Theses on NSA

nsa 1. No shit, Sherlock. WTF did you think they were doing this whole time?

2. NSA’s operation is tiny and one-dimensional compared with the data-gathering happening in the marketing operations of the 1,000 largest business corporations.

3. Much of the data being gathered by NSA already exists — and is submitted by — corporations like Google and the cell-phone squatter-oligopolies/profit ranches.

4. One excellent answer to all this spying would be to empower the US Postal Service to set up and run a national, not-for-profit, no-ads, no-spying internet and cellular network, with the explicit charge of out-competing the private sector.

5. We await any kind of left stirring…

6. “Market totalitarianism” is not hyperbole.

8 Replies to “Theses on NSA”

  1. TCT issues the definitive statement about this.
    As for number 5, yes we await something more than yet another insignia on a protest household coffee mug. Does the micro-left want to simply salute, with our raised wine glasses, one more wonderful, brave, truth-telling hero who will march off, in due time, to a long, long time in one of our finer prison-education establishments?

  2. Rebellion is fine
    (as long as it is artfully curated in history museums OR happening in other countries)

    Although it is certainly true the private companies collect far more data, ultimately they don’t give a damn about you, as long as they can predict and finely influence your next purchase.

    However, the ONLY major use that the NSA can have for this trove of data is to retroactively pwn any enemies of the state, should any emerge at some point.

  3. “One excellent answer to all this spying would be to empower the US Postal Service to set up and run a national, not-for-profit, no-ads, no-spying internet and cellular network, with the explicit charge of out-competing the private sector.”

    But wouldn’t this stymie our ‘best and brightest’? Wouldn’t this kill ‘invention’ and deter ‘entrepreneurship’? Wouldn’t this be ‘anti-growth’?

    Just kidding, of course. It’s a fantastic idea, which is why the US Postal System is being eviscerated.

  4. Of course a public entreprise managing the telecommunications would be great. Unfortunately, at this point this seems as an utopia (or at least the transparent and accountable version of it).

    No one would possibly entertain this idea after the recent leaks. For mass surveillance, the corporate-government merger is a truly match made in heaven.

    Well, anyway. Silly or not, I’m letting my paranoia fly unrestricted. Facebook, Google – gone from my life. Twitter, still in. Cell phone, still in, but a cash prepaid one. Computer, internet browsing, anonymized and encrypted (still in transition). If nothing else, at least I see a notable drop in the volume and accuracy of banner ads. Another thing that has been revealing is the sheer number of different tracking applications that get activated upon visiting a site. It’s impossible not to leave a trace, but it is possible to scrub enough to see some difference.

  5. Marla, I’m not at all belittling the meaning of the NSA spying. In any decent society, Obama would be headed to jail for it (or, more properly, have his war crimes sentence lengthened).

    But I’m also not sure private marketing-spying adds up to anything less troubling. It’s decentralized and aimed at tiny objectives, but I also do think the Piranha Effect is real. In the aggregate, it works just as uniformly as any state psy-op, and with greater deniability. If I could wave my wand and immediately abolish either this NSA operation or big business marketing, I would choose the latter, hands down. The culture could then reclaim its democratic aspects and aspirations, not to mention the means of communication. As it stands, we are held motionless and brainless by the profit seekers.

  6. Sure, unfortunately it is precisely this relative diffusion and decentralization makes it harder to perceive (not that there are that many companies left, but still “looks” like a market in comparison with NSA).

    Just as Bob Black (whom I learned about here :)) said about the workplace being the source of more orders and opression in a week than the police is in a lifetime, the subtle molding of behavior and ideas by private information infrastructure on which we increasingly depend surely makes us dumber and less critical than any state-sponsored propaganda could.

  7. Ultimately, you are right, Michael. A few days after this surveillance fiasco, I begin to realize that a big, perhaps the main, driving force behind my current withdrawal from many online services is precisely the realization of the control they have over my life, and the dependency they instill.

    After the initial scandal, I am now indeed more peeved about the increasingly intrusive nature of all these “free services”, and I think it is worth it to wipe the slate clean and start over judiciously, even if it means more daily inconvenience for now. (so what if my amazon account no longer recognizes me? so what if i miss out on the inane stuff on facebook?)

    It’s a shame that such great, potentially liberating, technologies are being shaped in concerning directions simply because of the profit imperative.

  8. Speaking of totalitarianism, apparently you can’t just log into your amazon account and delete it (like you still can with gmail, facebook etc.) – nope, you have to contact them and specifically ask them to delete it for you, which in turn is not easy to locate. And there you go, I still got it, and even bought something today šŸ™

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