Nowhere to Run To; Nowhere to Thrive

nowhereIt’s something of a truism in physics that closed systems tend toward entropy. In other words, building walls around a process will make it degrade faster than it normally would. And this principle clearly applies beyond physics.

An academic named John B. Calhoun famously documented this effect in rat populations. He gave his animals everything they could possibly need but enclosed them in a limited space. Inside their closed system, some males became aggressive, others withdrew psychologically, mothers stopped caring for their young, and eventually their population plummeted, even though there was plenty of food.

Humans are not rats, of course; we are self-referential, thinking beings. Subjected to fully closed systems, we’d break down mentally long before we starved ourselves.

The Human Experiments

The human analog of the rat experiment wouldn’t be constrained physical space, but constrained mental space. And that’s precisely what we’re getting now with mass surveillance. In other words:

Surveillance locks our minds into a closed system.

We know we’re being watched. Every time we look around to see who might be listening, every time we avoid expressing ourselves freely (speaking, writing, whatever), every time we lower our voices so the punishers won’t hear, we are conscious of the fact that we’re living in a closed system. Fear of shame and punishment are the walls around that enclose us.

And we do have empirical evidence on the effects of such closed systems. In a paper entitled The Legacy of Surveillance, Marcus Jacob and Marcel Tyrell wrote this about East German surveillance:

Our empirical evidence suggests that a one standard deviation increase in Stasi (secret police) informer density is associated with… a 10% decrease in organizational involvement, and a 50% reduction in the number of organs donated across the districts in East Germany.

We furthermore find robust evidence that surveillance intensity has a strong negative effect… on current economic performance, and may explain approximately 7% of the East-West differential in income per capita and 26% of the unemployment gap.

So, the surveillance of East Germany produced serious, measurable, and strongly negative results.

Jacob and Tyrell conclude:

[W]e find that people’s experience of living in a regime in which state security informers had their tentacles in every aspect of people’s lives has resulted in a strong and lingering sense of mistrust of members of society outside the immediate family circle.… We furthermore find robust evidence that surveillance intensity has a strong negative effect… on current economic performance in these regions.

So, if we try to imagine that modern surveillance – in many ways much worse than it was in East Germany – will have no negative effects, we delude ourselves.

Closed mental systems – like the most intense surveillance that has ever existed on this planet – is a war on our minds, a war on will. It leaves people unable to make autonomous and ethical decisions. They become truly selfless; that is, they have no solid self that can exert choice, will, and effort… that can strive, risk, defend, and grow.

As Hannah Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism:

The disturbing factor in the success of totalitarianism is the true selflessness of its adherents.

When the State Overtakes Society

One of the primary effects of mass surveillance is to suppress individual judgment. We dare not act on our own minds, because authority will see it and disapprove. And that, as I mentioned last week, makes us less conscious, less alive.

Large central structures, like surveillance states, remove initiative, adaptation, and self-reference from individual men and women, forcing them into a fixed structure.

The crucial thing is this:

When regulation is within the individual, complex and beneficial interactions thrive.

When regulation is outside the individual, personal virtues fail.

When people cannot rely on themselves, their patterns of thinking change. Rather than referring to their own perceptions, their own knowledge, and their own analysis, they defer to the judgment of an external voice. They lose themselves in the process.

The inevitable product of this is denuded individuals and non-adaptive structures.

Coming to a Closed System near You…

Having nowhere to run has always meant death to the finer elements of human nature, and it remains true now.

Over time, mass surveillance will cause motivation and production to fall and human happiness to decline. We are thinking creatures, and if we are prevented from acting according to our natures, we will fail to thrive. And once that point is reached, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t put it back together. They couldn’t in East Germany and they haven’t in North Korea.

Mass surveillance is a war on the best within us. It is already bearing bad fruit, but the worst is yet to come.

Assert your will. Now.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Free Services Are for Suckers

free services internetJust a few weeks ago, it was revealed that the FBI will be going through a huge stack of emails they stole from a free service, to find some peaceful people they can publicly prosecute. The service was called Tor Mail…and their advertising slogan was Free Anonymous Email.

Supposedly, this system was ironclad and immune from government attacks. And, presumably, the operators would do this very hard thing, forever, and for free. That’s just not rational, regardless of the operator’s intentions.

Nonetheless, a small army of people signed up and used the service. It was free, after all!

Now, they are being burned, and maybe badly. That sucks, and they almost certainly don’t deserve it, but it was also rather predictable.

Free is for suckers. Always has been, still is. Jump at “free,” and you volunteer to pay the piper eventually.

Free Contributions Versus Free Services

There is a fundamental difference between free contributions and free services. Free contributions can be honest, important, and noble.

Phil Zimmerman gave us PGP, Tim Berners-Lee gave us HTTP, and Satoshi Nakamoto gave us crypto-currency. All of these were gifts, for which we should be grateful.

Operating a service, however, is something different:

  • The contribution – the gift – requires a specific and limited expense of time and passion.
  • A service requires daily work, most of it less than exciting. And there is no end to it.

Gifting something to the world is wonderful and deserves our gratitude. There’s nothing wrong with it. Nor is there a real problem with the shareware model, or with a free trial before buying, or the donations model.

Doing the daily grind that is necessary to run a service, however, is something very different. These are not acts of passion; they are acts of determination and endurance. Sure, there can be moments of passion, but an ongoing service requires far more than that. And, any service provider that can’t deal with “grind it out” work doesn’t survive.

The Free Service Game

Right now, free services rule the Internet. Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest… their business model involves getting people to use their systems for free.

But if you use something for free, you are NOT the customer. These companies DO have customers who pay them money, but that’s not you… which means that you are the product!

Let’s not forget what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously texted his friend:

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard, just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

Friend: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb f*cks

Anything you run through a free service goes beyond your control, immediately and permanently. These companies are monetizing your life, and the lives of your family and friends. Again, you are the product, and they’re selling you to anyone who will pay.

No one really runs a service for free.

The same thing goes for smartphone apps, by the way. They give them to you for free, or for almost free, and they also sell your life to anyone who will pay. The primary purpose of most apps is to spy on you. Read their privacy statements sometime.

“Nothing Bad Will Happen”

This is said every day, as it has been by more or less all the victims of history. I’m not for walking around in fear of course, but if you grab at “free” products, you are stepping into a trap.

If you don’t know the price in advance, you’ll be charged anyway (in this case, by having your life sold), and you’ll overpay.

And bad things do happen, as they did to Brandon Raub.

Is ‘saving’ a couple bucks really that big a deal?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

What You Need to Know About Microsoft’s Spying Ways

microsoftI had a conversation the other day with the best and most knowledgeable computer guy I know. After discussing privacy threats, he made this statement:

Everybody buying a Windows computer today is a traitor to humanity.

Now, this is a very technically oriented guy, and he quickly agreed with me that most people don’t have a clue about such things. Still, the primary point stands: Whenever any of us buys a Microsoft product, we are supporting the tools of our own slavery.

Here’s the problem:

Because people keep buying Windows, computer manufacturers are forced to buy and provide “Licensed for Windows” products. And those products include a lot of bad things. As I’ve pointed out before, Microsoft cooperates massively with the NSA to provide them with records of your thoughts and actions. But the problem my friend referred to was something else… something called TPM,

Trusted Platform Module.

It’s a little chip in your computer that is, in my friend’s words, “way evil.”

Microsoft’s goal (with Apple following in their footsteps, by the way) is to kill the general purpose computer. Combining this Trusted Platform Module with Windows provides something that Microsoft and their government pals have been after for a number of years: something called Digital Hygiene.

If that sounds slightly Nazi-ish to you, I’m glad, because it is.

Digital Hygiene means that unless Microsoft approves of all the software on your computer – or any number of other factors, to be determined in the future – your Internet access will be instantly cut-off.

Here’s what Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing was quoted as saying (by multiple sources, at a conference in Berlin) in 2010:

Infected computers should be quarantined from the Internet, and PCs should have to prove themselves clean with a digital health certificate in order to access the Internet.

Now they are doing it, and my friend is right to raise an alarm.

More and more computers cannot run anything except a “signed” operating system – signed by Microsoft or the hardware manufacturer. In other words, if they haven’t given the A-OK that what you’re using is as it should be, you get cut off. Moreover, the “we certify it or what you bought won’t work” extends to every program you run.

This is already inside any computer that is sold as “Ready for Windows 8.” When you install Windows 8, these capabilities are automatically activated.

Once that’s done, you will need major computer skills to wipe it off your machine and install something better.

What this all means is that, in the not too distant future – if you use a Windows machine – you might be limited to a small selection of pre-approved, pre-sanitized, privacy-questionable programs.

And I can almost guarantee all the tools we use now to protect ourselves from the reach of digital snoops will be blocked too, leaving us naked and vulnerable.

But there is a solution.

Buy a Linux machine. Not only will it protect you against the above, but it’ll be cheaper, and doesn’t have all the problems that Windows does (e.g., the blue screen of death).

Here’s how to get started:

  • Buy an older model computer with an AMD processor. They’re cheaper and still offer WAY more power than you’re likely to need. Just be sure to ask if the thing comes with “vPro,” “CompuTrace,” or a “TPM chip.” If it has any of these, don’t buy it!
  • Install Linux Mint on it; a user-friendly version of the program.

Most likely, unless you’re technically minded, you’ll need to enlist the help of your local independent computer retailer. Do so – they will be a great resource as you shift to a non-Microsoft world.

Remember, Microsoft is a traitor to their customers, relying upon their ignorance to keep the game going.

Don’t be their zombies!

microsoftSource: Edward Snowden

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Cryptohippie Responds to the NSA’s Attack on Encryption

cryptohippieEditor’s Note: The founder of FreemansPerspective.com, Paul Rosenberg, has spent many years trying to protect Internet users from unjustified surveillance by groups like the NSA. He is part of the team at Cryptohippie, who offer something called a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It’s a service that helps its users avoid tracking by the snoops.

However, it’s just come to light that many such “protection” services have been compromised themselves. Lest people think Cryptohippie has suffered the same fate, he’s asked us to publish a clarification on just how Cryptohippie protects its users – and indeed, what you should look for before using such a service yourself.

– Thomas Anderson
Editor, FreemansPerspective.com

——————

On September 5th, Glenn Greenwald and others revealed that the NSA was able to break the vast majority of encryption used on the Internet. You can find the story here or here, and commentary by cryptographer Bruce Schneier here.

Below, we’ll explain why you need not worry about your Cryptohippie service, but first, here is a short list of what was revealed:

  • Tech companies and Internet providers are cooperating with the NSA to break encryption everywhere. They are installing “secret vulnerabilities” and “covertly influencing product designs.”
  • Encryption for Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook is already broken.
  • Your data streams are recorded and decrypted, since the NSA (and their British counterpart, GCHQ) already have access to your secret keys.
  • These attacks involve something called key exchanges (involved in all encryption) and the subversion of certificate authorities, such as Symantec, Comodo and GoDaddy.
  • They have already broken 30 VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and are working toward 300.
  • The NSA has capabilities against HTTPS (used to protect online shopping and banking) and voice-over-IP.
  • Encryption is still effective, if used well. As Edward Snowden said, “Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

It appears the NSA and GCHQ are specifically targeting “certificate authority” services. These are services that verify the authenticity of cryptographic keys.

In particular, it seems that the NSA is colluding with, intimidating or subverting these companies.

Why Cryptohippie Remains Safe

None of the leaks so far have changed anything in our threat assumptions. Almost all of this has been assumed among industry professionals, and we have done a few things from the beginning to keep such problems at bay. In specific:

  1. We run our own certificate authority (CA).
  2. We separate server keys from client keys.
  3. We force clients to verify that they are talking to a server-key and that it is signed exactly by our CA.
  4. We do not allow new keys to be generated.
  5. We generate all keys with a known good generator.
  6. We only rely on static asymmetric keys for authentication, not for negotiating the session keys for content encryption. For that we use DH to generate ephemeral session keys.
  7. We use good random source on the servers (combination of hardware and software source, with a FIPS check on randomness).
  8. Because we use DH and good random sources on the server, we can assure good session keys for each connection, even if the user’s computer cannot provide good quality randomness itself.

In other words, our network remains highly secure.

Our public facing website is less secure. We have to use official CA keys there. That, however, matters very little; we don’t have any non-public data attached to that site at all.

Our mail servers have that same certificate issue, but only on the public facing side, not internally. This doesn’t affect our security either: Mails sent out of the Cryptohippie (CH) network have never been safe from the NSA, only mails that stay inside our network – to and from other Cryptohippie users.

Implications

The long-term implication of this for Cryptohippie is that we may face the day when they come knocking, or come hacking. So far, all goes well for us.

The bosses at NSA apparently see this as absolutely necessary for the survival of the United States. (The fact that it survived for 200 years prior is ignored.) One of their documents from 2007 said this:

In the future, superpowers will be made or broken based on the strength of their cryptanalytic programs. It is the price of admission for the U.S. to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace.

In other words, they are obsessed with this, and see it in the starkest possible terms. We’re not sure whether this is just rah-rah talk for the techies who work for them, or whether they really believe it (which would border on mental illness), but it is very dangerous. There’s no worse tyrant than one who believes he’s righteous.

The implications for the Internet community in general are these:

  1. Do not use a VPN unless it has its own Private Key Infrastructure.
  2. Do not trust certificate authorities.

Specifics

This may be a little technical, but we want to be clear on so serious a matter. Here’s what we see at the moment:

  1. From the data we have both from Snowden and from other sources, plus our own experience, the base algorithms are secure.
  2. The NSA is doing exactly what has been asserted among professionals for some time: subverting certain software, systems and providers, then promoting them as the ones to use.
  3. Several of the protocols used – or at least certain of their implementations – are insecure, not just by accident, but also by design.
  4. The global public key infrastructure is broken.
  5. Some key generation implementations have been tweaked to give out keys that can be cracked more easily. That has happened accidentally in the past, but the NSA seems to have done it on purpose. There are good hints as to which implementations are subverted.
  6. The NSA’s plan is to: give up on controlling crypto itself (it’s unfeasible); don’t rely on breaking algos (too expensive or not possible); subvert stuff, then push the subverted stuff; and kill stuff that isn’t subverted.
  7. The NSA has active capabilities to intrude into many connections. This requires a lot of technology, which is in place all over the world.
  8. We can still protect intergroup communications.
  9. Public communication without secure key exchange and traveling over the clearnet is broken, likely beyond repair. It’s almost impossible to roll out an alternative to x509 on a global scale.
  10. This might lead to a push for a general overhaul of the security infrastructure on the internet.

Key Authentication

Here’s what key authentication means:

To connect the owner of a key to his/her key, most systems today use a trusted third party for verification. In order to trust the verifications of these parties, you must trust three particular things:

  1. That the trusted party is acting faithfully, not deceiving, and not deceived itself.
  2. That the signature system is unbroken; that is, both the signature algorithm and the hashing used in it are secure.
  3. That the signed key is secure, that it hasn’t been leaked, and that there has not been a private key generated from the public key that has been signed.

That leads you to questions (and answers) like the following. We have omitted the complicated discussion of hashing.

Is the trusted party trustworthy? (No. Most CAs are surely not trustworthy.)

Is the trusted party competent? (Some are; others are not.)

Is the signature algorithm secure? (Yes, the signature algos are secure.)

Is the public key algorithm irreversible? (That depends on random number source. We have seen many such attacks in the past few years.)

Is the private key secret? (Clearly many secret keys are being sold to the NSA, or stolen.)

Key exchange is only secure if you can answer “yes” to ALL of the above questions. Clearly, we can’t, in most cases today. The math is generally good, but the implementations and organizations are not.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The NSA’s Secret War Against Online Privacy Seekers

nsa surveillance privacyIf you haven’t seen this yet, I’m sorry to drop it on you:

On September 5th, Glenn Greenwald and others revealed the extent of the NSA’s destruction of privacy – not just the privacy of people who are oblivious to the situation, but that of privacy seekers as well. You can find the story here or here, and commentary by a legitimate expert here.

Here’s What Was Revealed

  • The biggest tech companies and Internet providers are cooperating with the NSA (which may be why they’re big) to break encryption everywhere. They are installing “secret vulnerabilities” and “covertly influencing product designs.”
  • Encryption for Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook is already broken. Others as well.
  • Your data streams are recorded and decrypted, since the NSA (and their British counterpart, GCHQ) already have access to your secret keys.
  • These attacks involve something called key exchanges (involved in all encryption) and the subversion of certificate authorities, such as Symantec, Comodo and GoDaddy.
  • They have already broken 30 Virtual Private Network systems and are working toward 300.*
  • Greenwald and others report that in the NSA documents, ordinary Internet customers are referred to as “adversaries.”
  • The NSA has capabilities against “HTTPS, voice-over-IP… [which are] used to protect online shopping and banking.”
  • However, it can be said that encryption is still effective, if used well. As Edward Snowden said, “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

What This Means to You

If you hadn’t taken this seriously or were content to let others keep you safe, now’s the time to wake up and act. You have to protect yourself. No one is going to step in and do it for you. Magic hackers will NOT ride in to your rescue.

You must either learn to handle your own security, seriously, or pay for a top-notch service. If you go cut-rate, you’re just paying for the NSA to spy on you.

I may be preaching to the choir here, but don’t even try to pretend that the government will fix this – they are the people who are doing it – and they love the power. And don’t pretend that the military will step in either – the NSA is part of the military.

We’re all perps now. If all Internet users are “adversaries,” do you really think anyone is safe?

What This Means to Us All

Forget about the US Constitution; it’s a non-factor now. This is just the latest example of people who are drunk on power and don’t care about the principles on which this country was founded.

The NSA and the entire US/UK “security” apparatus is a gigantic drunken beast. The operators are arrogant and untouchable. Their bosses have openly lied to Congress, with no consequences. Do you really think they will remain angels? (Did you ever really think they were?)

The reality is, the system is beyond broken, no matter what kind of happy talk you hear on TV.

Make no mistake, this is the eye of Sauron. It is the empowerment of arrogance and power… and ultimately of death. You might think me dramatic but history doesn’t lie: Surveillance kills.

Once they have your communications, they have your thoughts. They are currently analyzing those thoughts and have already begun to quietly manipulate them. That is, if you choose to let them. Yes, it is your choice.

Be aware of the danger, take it seriously and become the kind of person you want to be… not the one they want to manipulate you into becoming.

[Ed. Note. An important paid report… yours today for free: How Surveillance Destroys Us (and what we can do to stop it).]

While the various program specifics of government surveillance have been well covered, Paul Rosenberg has come up with a brilliant perspective different from anything else we’ve seen.

In this important report, he talks about the (often subtle) psychological effects that non-stop surveillance has on us as living, breathing and thinking human beings.

Specifically, he sheds light on how governments routinely use surveillance to quietly manipulate us into doing what they want without question. That may sound crazy but the evidence doesn’t lie. And it’s all out there in plain sight for those who choose to see it.

This is traditionally a paid members-only benefit, but for a limited time, we’ll make it available to anyone who wants it. Click here to grab your copy.]

* The service I am associated with, Cryptohippie, is unaffected by this. Like other professional services, we operate our own public key infrastructure, without outsourcing trust and control to a third party, like an unaccountable Certificate Authority. We use Perfect Forward Security cipher suites, which prevent communication from being decrypted after the fact, or when keys are lost. We will be publishing a detailed explanation of why Cryptohippie remains safe for our customers, and we’ll ask FreemansPerspective.com to post it as well.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Digital Diversification: How to Do It

digital diversificationThank God for Edward Snowden. I used to warn people about surveillance and the death of privacy, but most of them found it hard to believe me; it was just too far out of the mainstream. Not so anymore.

Just as the diversification of investments has become crucial, so has digital diversification. Not only are the Western nations (especially the US and UK) abusing every piece of data they can touch, but the Hollywood/DC complex has been throwing around their power thuggishly. It’s way beyond suing 12-year-old girls, by the way; if you haven’t seen the raid on Kim Dotcom’s house, you really should. And not only are they forcibly shutting down many web services, but they are pushing laws that allow the Hollywood studios to break into your computer – legally.

Since I have been involved with an international privacy company (Cryptohippie.com) for some time, let me report to you what we have found on the subject of digital diversification.

Privacy Laws

The first thing many people think about for digital diversification is privacy laws. I’m sorry to tell you, however, that they don’t matter very much. They can be important for networks and data centers, but not often for individual users.

The reason for this is the international construction of the Internet. Your Internet traffic (surfing, email, Skype, whatever) is not contained within any single country – it flies right past national borders without the slightest delay.

Making things worse, it probably passes through the United States, whose NSA grabs it all and shares or sells it to god knows who. (Again, I refer you to Mr. Snowden, as well as to William Binney, Russell Tice, and Mark Klein, previous whistle-blowers.)

Take a look at this representation of world Internet traffic, and notice that nearly all of it passes through the US.

digital diversification

So, regardless of local privacy laws, your Internet traffic will more than likely be grabbed by the US and UK. (Not to mention non-government data thieves.)

The Copyright Thugs

As noted above, the Intellectual Property (IP) thugs have been unleashed, and they have often ruined businesses for the ‘crime’ of merely linking to a site where some kind of pirated music, video, or software may have been found. To avoid these excesses of law, you definitely do not want your server to be located inside the US, or in any country that cooperates too closely with the US government.

Which locations to choose depends on what you want to do with your server. Here are some examples:

  1. If you run a very simple, static site, just for fun and with no controversial content, you can pick anywhere that gives you a good price and fast access (even the US). But don’t allow links to be posted by users. If they link to a copy of Braveheart, you could have a problem on your hands.
  2. If you want a server (or a virtual server, which is smaller and cheaper) and you want to allow people to post comments, go offshore. If your site is very simple, will see little traffic, and requires very little in the way of resources, you can go with anything you find. But if you choose a server in the Caribbean, for example, be aware that your server may fall offline from time to time. (I know from personal experience as well as reports from others.)
  3. If you will see more traffic, make sure to check on the connection your data center (where your server is located) has to the Internet. The larger the connection and the larger the number of connections to international fibers, the better. You will, of course, pay more for these servers.
  4. If you run a professional service, look for data centers that will give you real customer service. You cannot allow your professional service to just vanish for a few days, while you track down a technician who likely doesn’t speak your language. In our experience, servers in central and northern Europe are the best choice: Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Austria, and so on. The laws there are fairly good for networks, and the data centers employ professional technicians. You’ll have to pay more, of course, but if you’re running a serious service, it is well worth it.

Political Persecution

If you’re running a Free Tibet web site, or anything like it, consider first who your enemies are likely to be, then avoid them and their allies – rent your servers somewhere that they and their friends are not.

The Dutch have long prided themselves in shielding such groups, so the Netherlands may be a good choice. (Some of the Scandinavians have taken that position as well.) But take a look at other politically persecuted web sites and see where they keep their servers.

And DO tell the data center what you are doing. If they know, they may very well protect you as best they can; but if not, your site will come down, probably at the first attack.

Surveillance

There is nowhere on the planet that is free from surveillance now – it’s simply too cheap, too easy, and too profitable.

The BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are planning fiber optic cables that they do not share with the US or UK, so data centers on that line may be a better choice at some point. Rest assured, however, that Russia, China, et al, will be running their own surveillance. It will merely be a question of who is reading all your traffic.

Protection from surveillance requires encryption and an anonymity network. We covered that in a previous article, here.

Last Thoughts

It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of effort to secure your digital world, but you have to DO IT. Most people don’t want to be bothered and just go with whatever someone else is willing to set up for them.

But you wouldn’t diversify your finances based on the word of a friend’s brother-in-law, would you?

Likewise, don’t build your digital world blindly, taking the first and easiest option you can find. This doesn’t require weeks of work, but it does require some thought and some effort. It will be a good investment of your time.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

“Digital Diversification: How to Do It”  was originally published at InternationalMan.com

The New Era of Surveillance is Here

surveillanceSome have said it’s better to make decisions under the influence of alcohol than under the influence of fear.

But in late 2001, Americans made an entire set of decisions under the influence of fear… and created a monster.

We all remember what happened: A frightened public allowed politicians, secret agencies, and militaries to spend any amount of money and build any kind of system they wanted, to “protect us from the terrorists.”

To cash in on the new zeitgeist, new TV shows practically worshiped military and police forces; thousands of churches gave themselves over to the glorification of soldiers; and corporations scrambled for government money to build these new systems.

10 years on, it’s not just the “paranoid crackpots” anymore who can see that Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984 is terrifyingly real and more sinister than even he could have imagined.

The reality is this: Americans now live under the largest and most invasive surveillance state in the history of the world. This has been confirmed and admitted, even by the talking heads of the mainstream press.

I know there have been too many stories, passing too quickly, for most people to see this in all its gory detail, so I want to clarify and simplify a bit.

First, I’ll give you a list of recent stories (all since mid-May), with links, so you can check any of them you want to. Then, I’ll give you a brief, simple summary of where Americans stand now.

To Sum Up

The list above contains only recent and major stories. There are many others, but I want to keep this brief.

So here’s where we stand now:

  1. There are no more legal protections that matter. The 4th amendment is (was) “the law of the land,” and it is very clear. But that doesn’t matter: A pile of court rulings have been given precedence, and the Constitution no longer applies.
  2. The US military can – if and when it wants to – arrest and imprison anyone (foreigner or citizen) for as long as they want, without a trial.
  3. Acts of torture (“advanced interrogation techniques”) are legal, and secret courts are in regular operation.
  4. The US government (through many agencies, most notably the NSA and FBI) is collecting nearly every email, text, chat, phone call, and web site surfed. This information is already being used in government prosecutions.
  5. Government officials lie to citizens with impunity. Citizens who lie to officials go to jail. (Ask Martha Stewart, and a thousand less-famous people.)
  6. You are physically tracked 24/7 by your cell phone and car license plates.
  7. Large corporations are helping the US government run the most complete surveillance state in the history of the world.

Is this is something you would agree to, if given an option?

Is this what you want your children or grandchildren to grow up in?

Do you think Thomas Jefferson would agree to this? Would Abraham or Moses support this? Would Jesus?

What Now?

The first thing we have to do is to gain moral clarity: to be clear on the fact that this is morally wrong. Not legally wrong, but morally wrong.

Because if it is morally wrong, then it remains wrong, no matter how many high-and-mighty authorities proclaim it to be right.

In other words, you need to believe that morality is more important than legality, which is really the core of the Judeo-Christian ethic that underpins our society. (You can deny it if you want, but that doesn’t make it false.)

Once we are morally clear on this subject, the rest follows naturally. But you have to get clear on this, inside of yourself. Writers like me can provide you with facts, but no one can do your internal work for you.

So, do you think this is morally wrong? And if so, why?

Be clear about the answer to this question. It’s the starting point to the struggle for personal freedom.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Other (Worse) Side of the PRISM Scandal

prism online surveillanceThe fallout from the PRISM scandal has reached Stage Two, where faces in front of television cameras promote memorable slogans to give people reasons to accept their abuse and to pretend that everything is okay. And, overall, these slogans and their promoters break down into to two primary models –  predators and battered women.

Let’s start with the predators.

These abusers –  who are building the largest blackmail archive in all of human history – keep coming back with the same old hateful slogan:

If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Understand this clearly: these are the words of a predator speaking to his hostages.

As you sit, his gun pointed at your chest, he says, “As long as you keep the rules, I won’t shoot.” This phrase is intended to hold you in that position, under the complete control of the gunman.

The trick of this evil phrase is that it takes the first position – with you as a hostage – as a given; as an assumed starting point. The phrase allows no possibility of you existing without a gun pointed at you.

Your captor says, “Don’t transgress me and I won’t kill you.” But all the while he maintains that it is righteous for him to keep you in permanent fear of the SWAT team breaking down your door at 3 am and sticking their automatic weapons in your face.

But, of course, it’s never “terror” when they do it, and you can be sure that, after you’re taken in, their friends at the TV stations will call you “suspected terrorists.”

Never accept a predator’s right to say this to you. Don’t accept his right to hold such a position over you. Instead, say something like:

I don’t grant you that position.

You’re not my master.

Why would I want you (or your bosses) to hold such a position over me?

Whoever throws this phrase at you is justifying your position as a hostage and is locking you into it.

Now, let’s move on to the equally disturbing issue of battered women.

The sad truth is that quite a few women have been beaten by their boyfriends or husbands, and they stay, rather than leave. Instead, they find ways of justifying their abusers, saying things like:

We’re working it out.

It wasn’t like it seems.

If I just ease up a little on him, it’ll be alright.

It’s not that bad. At least he doesn’t…

He said he’s sorry.

I can’t manage without him.

This is ugly stuff, but spousal abuse is, sadly, not uncommon.

But notice that people routinely use variations of the same “it’s not so bad” slogans to justify government abuse:

Mass surveillance is good because it also collects the data to prove people to be innocent!

I’d rather trust a computer and algorithm to spy on me than a human.

The primary job of the state is providing security for its citizens.

Surveillance on financial data is a whole different subject. That is about taxes, not free communication.

And there are many other variations.

So, we have hit the season of a two-fold attack on reason:

  • First, we have the predators trying to lock everyone into place in front of their guns.
  • Second, we have the sycophants trying to convince us that it’s okay – that we really do need our abusers.

This is the other side of the PRISM scandal, the one that most people don’t (or don’t want to) see: the subtle manipulation of our minds to ultimately turn us into sheep… those that will accept the role of the abused without question or complaint.

And to me, that’s the most disturbing side of all.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning

dangers of telling the truthOne of them has been tortured; another is surrounded by armed men and trapped; and the third is hiding ten thousand miles away, in fear of his life. And what were their crimes? Telling the truth.

Talk about a sick commentary on the modern world.

For those who didn’t know, Ed Snowden is the young man who released evidence of the US government purposely trashing the Constitution that they swore to protect. Coming on the heels of the press surveillance, Verizon, IRS, and Boundless Informant scandals, his information on project Prism has capped off quite a run. Whether Americans still have the emotional strength to give a damn, or they are simply looking for reasons to believe, is another question, but this young man is a hero of the highest order.

So is Julian Assange and so is Bradley Manning. They released the truth about what they saw happening. And the gigantic operations are threatening their lives because they do not want you to know the truth.

Let me quote Jesus here:

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

So, who’s on which side of this issue?

The haters of light proclaim that they see more than you do, know more than you do, and are wiser than you. And they go further: first demanding that you give them your money, and then that you thank them for keeping you in the dark.

What would you think if someone who proposed that to you as a business deal?

Yet, these people proclaim that they are empowered to do dark deeds by the great LAW. When questioned, they quote dozens of statutes and rulings and regulations. Yet, it all crumbles as soon as anyone refers to the original and paramount law. That “supreme law” reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

That paramount law does not say, “unless you have appropriate statutes, or rulings, or executive orders, or international treaties, or other impressive scraps of paper.” It says shall not be violated.

In response, they call you stupid, uneducated, and deceived. Then they will threaten you.

Their threats, of course, have to be taken seriously. After all, they’ve purchased how many billion bullets in the past couple of years? And how many people have they tortured in Cuba? And how many violent, international kidnappings have they undertaken under the more pleasant term of “rendition”?

And they claim to be righteous. Don’t you believe it.

When Snowden, Assange, and Manning walk free, you can reconsider. But until these three truth-tellers are publicly thanked, these agencies – no matter how many dollars and guns and agents they have – are the enemies of light and truth.

[A note to my religious friends: Don’t you dare try to say that these agencies are agents of God’s will. By doing so, you are calling Jesus a liar.]

Paul Rosenberg
The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning
FreemansPerspective.com

Paul Rosenberg on RT: Online Surveillance in the US

online surveillance in the usYou will probably be quite familiar with the idea that the government has a nasty habit of spying on Americans who haven’t done anything wrong.

Until recently, most of us have been called kooks, conspiracy nuts and worse… But, as the scandals keep coming, the general public is starting to wake up to the abuses.

One leading voice in the effort to help people recognize and make sense of what’s going on is outside the Matrix author Paul Rosenberg. A few days ago, media network RT invited him into the studio to talk about these things.

Paul Rosenberg on RT: Online Surveillance in the US

Click here to watch the video on youtube.com: Paul Rosenberg on RT: Online Surveillance in the US