Security expert reveals: What I’ve been afraid to tell people about gov’t spying
Editor’s note: Today we’re presenting another “must read” post from our friend Paul Rosenberg. Paul is the founder of Cryptohippie USA, a company dedicated to protecting individuality and privacy on the Internet.
From Paul Rosenberg, Founder, Cryptohippie USA:
I’ve been traveling the world for years now, delivering the scary news about mass surveillance. I haven’t done it because I enjoy scaring people, but because it was necessary. But in almost every case, I’ve held back. Certain facts about mass surveillance seemed too much for people to take. I was afraid that I’d overwhelm them.
After all, there’s no point in speaking to people if the net result is for them to crawl into their shell and pull it closed.
The Snowden revelations, however, have helped a lot. Before them, I was laying lots of things on people that they had never heard before… things that “respectable” people would call crazy theories. Now they know better.
But, unfortunately, the surveillance monster is still charging forward. So, it’s time for me to talk about what’s starting to hit now. And it is scary.
Bernays Gets Automated
You may have heard of Edward Bernays. He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and used psychology to create methods of manipulating entire nations at once. He began his career working for Woodrow Wilson, convincing Americans that they wanted to get involved in World War I.
Here are two quotes from Bernays that will help you understand what this man was doing:
If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.
In almost every act of our lives… we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
Bernays turned propaganda – mass manipulation – into a science. He only changed the name of his science to Public Relations after the Nazis copied his techniques and gave Propaganda a bad name.
Back when Bernays was using his new science to “engineer consent” for wars and cigarettes, his techniques had to be applied by experts, and there were very few such people. Over time, more people learned Bernays’ skills, but they still had to be applied by individual humans.
Over the last 10-15 years, however, those experts have been working for the NSA, Google, Facebook and others. They’ve been automating the Bernays system.
Understand this please: Computers are better at reading and reacting than humans are… much better, much faster, and much cheaper. What computers lacked was an intellectual base for making those decisions.
I’m sorry to tell you that that intellectual base has already been built and the process is fairly well automated.
You’ve been seeing primitive versions of this for some time. For example, when you do a Google search on skis you’ll instantly get ads for discount travel to ski resorts that are near you, or that you’ve previously expressed an interest in.
But that was kindergarten level… What comes next is proactive rather than reactive, and it’s much, much worse.
Here’s the crucial point to remember:
If I know what motivates you, I can change your environment based upon that knowledge, and I can induce you to act in ways that I prefer.
That’s a deep and nasty kind of slavery – not of the body, but of the mind.
If you’ve heard of Big Data, this is what it’s about.
And the really scary thing about this is not that Google, Facebook, the government, and others are manipulating people, but that the entire process is automated… that computers are learning to manipulate you by interacting with you!
The more experience Google has with you, the more it learns what will or will not affect you. And, again, all of this is automated. We are quickly moving into a situation where many people will not be living in the real world, but in a world built specifically for them – to make use of them.
Can you see why I held this back?
Is This Real?
Yes, it is. We at Cryptohippie have been watching it grow for years.
One of Obama’s “Czars” has been writing about this for a decade or more. His name is Cass Sunstein, and he is about as high in the U.S. power structure as one can get. Here are some thoughts he has published:
It is legitimate for choice architects to influence people’s behavior. (“Choice architects” are people who will decide which choices you should see and which you should not.)
Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories.
Governments can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes.
This kind of manipulation on chat and comment boards has been going on for some time, and the NSA and its partners are training operatives to destroy people’s reputations online. We have lots of proof.
This suite of operations has government, corporate, and academic support, and lots of experts are getting very nice paychecks for building it.
Consider also that advertisers are finding their “Holy Grail” in this: Being able to put you into the right mood, then show you how to scratch the itch they implanted.
What these systems provide is unseen, persistent, scientific manipulation, based upon deep psychological profiles. And it will be continually revised in real time.
All the governments, mega-corps, and NGOs are working with these tools. To them, it’s an arms race.
Throwing Sand in Their Eyes
There is still a way to live an authentic life, but not by staying plugged in to their “Matrix” Lite. If you play that game, you’ll end up living the life that serves them, and you may never even know it.
If you want to retain your own mind in this new world of 24/7 manipulation, you’ll have to make your information unavailable to them. They must not know who you communicate with or what you say.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are two ways to do that:
- Get several encryption and security programs, learn to use them, and stay up to date with them. This method costs very little, but will take a lot of your time.
- Pay for professional data protection. Almost no time or study are required and the cost is below a dollar per day, but you will have to pay it.
If you want to do it yourself, download a copy of the Cryptohippie Guide To Online Privacy, for free, right here.
If you want to let professionals do it for you, try the Cryptohippie service, which will protect your surfing, email, and chat, as well as your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
There are competitors, of course, but they fall far short of Cryptohippie’s standards. If you want to compare, here are the things you should ask:
- Do they have their own Public Key Infrastructure? This one is crucial. The NSA has already hacked all (or almost all) of the certificate agencies. If the service doesn’t run its own infrastructure, consider them pre-hacked.
- Do they provide multiple, jurisdictionally-aware hops? (Just ask for a yes or no.)
- Do they operate their own DNS system?
- Do they have real customer service?
Crux note: Paul has agreed to extend a free trial subscription to any Crux reader interested in trying his powerful Cryptohippie service. Click here to claim yours now.
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