The “Hi Tech” Corporate Police State: “Reengineering” the Internet … for Persistent Surveillance
Ghost in the Machine: Secret State Teams Up with Ad Pimps to Throttle Privacy
by Tom Burghardt
December 2, 2010
The secret world of “cyber situational awareness” is a spymaster’s wet dream, made all the more alluring by the advent of ultra high speed computing and the near infinite storage capacity afforded by massive server farms and the ubiquitous “cloud.”
Within that dusky haze, obscured by claims of national security or proprietary business information, take your pick, would you bet your life that the wizards of misdirection and deception care a whit that you really are more than a disembodied data point?
Lost in the debate surrounding privacy invasion and data mining however, is the key role that internet service providers (ISPs) play as intermediaries and gatekeepers. From their perch, ISPs peer deeply into and collect and analyze the online communications of tens of millions of users simultaneously, in real-time.
Concerted efforts to eliminate online anonymity, in managed democracies and authoritarian regimes alike, are greatly enhanced by the deployment of deep packet inspection (DPI) sensors and software on virtually all networks.
As Canadian privacy watchdogs DeepPacketInspection.ca tell us, DPI offer ISPs “unparalleled levels of intelligence into subscribers’ online activities.”
“To unpack this a little” they aver, “all data traffic that courses across the ‘net is contained in individual packets that have header (i.e. addressing) information and payload (i.e. content) information. We can think of this as the address on a postcard and the written and visual content of a postcard.”
All of which is there for the taking, “criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial,” Cryptohippie chillingly informs.
Still the illusion persists that communication technologies are somehow “neutral.” Neither good nor bad but rather, much like a smart phone loaded with geolocation tracking chips or the surveillance-ready internet itself, simply there for all to use.
Reality as is its wont, bites with ever-sharper teeth.