For centuries the most powerful intelligence gathering service on the planet was the Catholic rite of ‘confession’, where millions of people told vital info to the Pope on guilty acts which could then be used to blackmail them and their co-sinners.
But you’d be wrong if you thought that was mostly over with Luther and the reformation. Priest-spooks of the new church at Google and Facebook took over where the confession box left off.
“Facebook have my life and I worry, ‘what will they do with it?’” a friend admitted to me this week. It’s a fair concern and one the software and social media giants have skirted round, paying their PR and legal departments to keep public debate to a minimum. Without a cast iron assurance that our data really is private we have to assume they hand everything to the NSA.
By shilly-shallying with our privacy, Zuckerberg and his Facebook board, by omission, are making it clear they are more afraid of ‘them’ than ‘us’, and they're bending over for the spooks.
Why worry if we have done nothing wrong? The chilling character of Gestapo torture chief Sturmbahnfuhrer Kessler summed it up precisely in the BBCs 1978 drama series on the French resistance ‘Secret Army’. In the episode ‘Trapped’ he explains: “Information. That’s the most important weapon we have. Information. My job is obtaining it. Every government fighting terrorism faces this problem and always will, I expect.”
Yes, those power-crazed NATO spooks crossed back over the line, into Gestapo-land, when they decided to treat the entire population of planet earth as the Nazis and the fictional Kessler did the French resistance. By obtaining our private information without going to a judge for a warrant they broke the law and criminalized their own profession. The vast abuse of private information by the Nazis was the very reason those laws were put there in the first place, to prevent anything like the Gestapo establishing itself again.
As internet users we need cast iron assurance that our data really is private, but we have never had it. We are not just required to have a password anymore. We hand over the keys to our lives. In medieval times something the Vatican can only have dreamed of. From our private mobile phone number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name (to help construct our family tree) as well as our primary and secondary schools (for those forgotten pupil records). Armed with all these signposts NATO intelligence, GCHQ and the NSA now know more about us than we know about ourselves.
What happens then? Someone might leave our information on a train or lose it through careless exchanges with a private company. If it doesn't slip out organized crime too will pay unscrupulous employees very well for dirt on their political enemies. As London's flaccid Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) proved in September 2013, not only might unscrupulous private detectives who have created an organized crime market in hacked and purloined private data not be prosecuted, they will not even be named. London's black market in stolen personal data just got another green light.
Collection of our mothers' maiden names etc. is done in the name of making our online accounts ‘secure’, yet using a Yahoo! ‘verification code’ sent by SMS to my mobile phone recently I was presented with a screen telling me someone was trying to hack my identity with a fake code and that I would therefore be locked out of my account. So what are we getting for giving up this personal information? Nothing? Or worse than nothing?
Call me cynical, but the very idea that you can switch between ‘public’ and ‘private’ in the world of social media only serves to point the spooks towards the information which might be used against you. Opinion-formers such as journalists and politicians are the stated targets when it comes to Information Operations cells and Psychological warfare.
Spyware on Vodafone Greece's network was found to be listening in very closely to the country's top politicians' phones back in 2005 and the engineer that blew the whistle Kostas Tsalikidis is widely believed to have been 'suicided' soon after he told the world of this technocratic intrusion into democratic politics. Who was it that wanted the inside story the Greek debt negotiating position? Who were they negotiating with at the time?
Vodafone are hardly a mobile phone firm that's 'for the people', more into forging new paths to tax avoidance and 'chancers' seeing what they can get away with. Having a smart phone with mobile data, I seem to have become some kind of plaything on Vodafone and the spooks' desktops. Switching on data these days I've found that my phone's microphone can be switched off remotely any minute, even in the middle of a conversation. How very chic, they don't have to sack me any more just silence me by remote control.
Leaving messages on MPs voicemails when I don't know if my microphone is working has become a cat and mouse game. How long will I keep trying to invite the politician on the radio, or will the hackers stop me? Hackers can now detach a journalist from his source with the click of a mouse, or perhaps simply program an NSA behemoth mainframe to do it for them.
I uninstalled my 'Twitter app' too last week because the damned thing was shutting off the internet and would cut my phone completely off from the network on a whim. Life has been a lot easier without Twitter messing around on my phone. But here's the rub: it is Twitter, not the spooks, that demands its app has permission to - excuse me - alter my contacts book, and alter my password-secured account settings. Twitter is bending over backwards for the spooks.
Most of us know about the Goldman Sachs ‘technocrat’ banksters with their power-crazed hands on the law making and tax spend tillers of more and more European countries as they lurch to the right but what about the social media corporate gurus to which the term ‘techno‘ can be more accurately applied? Just like the banksters; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Amazon all subscribe to the Bilderberg creed, attending these secret meetings of the transatlantic elite.
It’s at the annual Bilderberg conferences where the EU/US ‘divide’ begins to show out as nothing but a ‘good cop, bad cop’ deception. Here banking, media, energy and defense corporations straddle and dominate policy across the ‘united states’ of both America and Europe. The Pentagon is the aggressive power while the EU appointees smile sweetly with ‘soft touch’ diplomacy, holding up their hands and saying “what ARE we going to do with those gun-ho Americans?”
However good and original the idea the small fry of the internet are being assimilated into the NATO Bilderberg cyber-Borg, the intergalactic civilization devouring contraption of Star Trek fame, or they are crushed. One example is oldversion.com which used to supply spy, mal and bloatware-free older versions of programs for us cyber-Luddites. Now something strange has come between us and what we wanted, we're told to install a special mystery program we don't want before we get the software we do want. That's another website torpedoed then.
When it comes to regulation of the internet to prevent monopolies, you can simply forget that one. If well-known branded internet ‘services’ such as Yahoo! AOL and eBay have not already been quietly bought up by the Bilderberg bedfellows: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Amazon, they will be soon. With money no object 'everyone has their price’, those stragglers will come round in the end.
In order to force the big software and social media firms to hand our data over the NSA has had to use secret US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) courts but such orders are likely not to be valid in the UK legal jurisdiction. Social justice journalist and author of ‘Who Owns Britain’ and ‘Who Owns the World’ Kevin Cahill is suing Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft for breaching the UK’s stringent Data Protection Act.
It is legal actions like these where social media and software corporations could let it be known that they will pull out all the stops to defend our privacy but instead their evasiveness and whimpering speaks volumes. Just one carefully chosen case where they champion their customers against the spooks is all they need to show they have some backbone.
Just this week San Jose US District Court Judge Lucy Koh stopped a handful of Google’s hundreds of millions of Gmail users from filing a class action against the internet giant. They all accuse Google of violating Gmail users’ privacy by reading messages so Google can better target advertising.
Although the allegations are all about the Google ad seeking intrusion Koh said the plaintiff’s claims were too dissimilar to justify combining them in a single lawsuit. Those Gmail users could be the ammunition Google need, but Eric Schmidt's will to join with his customers to fight the spooks is not there and so all these brave plaintiffs get, fighting for the people, is divide and rule.
The 'soft power' cyber war that's quietly being waged by NATO intelligence services against their own people may be 'non-lethal' for now, but it is destroying democracy and the rule of law. It's funneling criminals into positions of public trust and as such stoking up despotism and quite possibly a civil war to boot.
In 1996, the man that predicted Bin Laden would be blamed for a massive attack on America, former US Naval Intelligence officer and Texas radio host William Cooper, shared with us what he believed was a true but ghastly vision of a technocratic elite future, every bit as horrifying as George Orwell’s ‘1984’.
Speaking of a secret NATO power elite creed he declared “Their goal is to destroy all existing religions, save theirs, all existing governments, save theirs and shackle the mob in a system of eternal oppressive debt chained to a computer for the rest of their life. In a propagandized world to make them believe that they are happy in this system.”
This week a beamed-in virtual NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden took to the stage to share a dark insight into the internet's direction of travel with inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The pair used the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) event in Vancouver, Canada to launch a campaign to 'save the web' from corporate takeover, to preserve 'net neutrality', calling together for a kind of internet 'Magna Carta' which will rein in the powerful combination of the 'Security Industrial Complex' lobby which, through complicity, includes the Googles and the Facebooks.
The internet is fast becoming an essential part of our lives in the age of the ‘connected world’. Unless we heed Edward and Tim's advice, and heed it now, everybody will have to ask themselves 'do I want to be connected, or do I want my freedom?' However that quiet war plays out it's clear that humanity, East and West, is not going to bend over, like Google and Facebook have, without a fight.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.