Monday, October 04, 2010

Orwellian Cyber Surveillance?

George Orwell warned us about doublethink, the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. He warned us of newspeak, designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.  And he warned of never ending global wars and universal surveillance.  Although he was off by a few decades, his predictions appear to be unfolding as constitutionally protected forms of political opposition including speech, the written word, and the right to assemble could fall under the broad definition of terrorism.

Here's one example of  the universal surveillance Orwell spoke of. The Obama Administration is currently pushing a legislative proposal that will require "Internet-based communications providers to support wiretap capabilities in their products." They want to "add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval"  In other words, the Obama Administration wants to wiretap the Internet.

Three of the proposed requirements:

  • Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.
  • Foreign providers that do business inside the United States must establish a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
  • Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their services to allow interception.
However, the proposed Internet wiretapping law may be fundamentally incompatible with security.

One more Orwellian example:  the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appears to be on the verge of prevailing in an attempt to put some information it receives from other intelligence agencies beyond the reach of Freedom of Information Act requests.


Electronic Police State -- every surveillance camera recording, every email sent, every Internet site surfed, every post made, every check written, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and all are held in searchable databases. The individual can be prosecuted whenever the government wishes.

Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program

President's Surveillance Program In the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the President authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a classified program to detect and prevent further attacks in the United States. As part of the NSA's classified program, several different intelligence activities were authorized in Presidential Authorizations, and the details of these activities changed over time. The program was reauthorized by the President approximately every 45 days, with certain modifications. Collectively, the activities carried out under these Authorizations are referred to as the "President's Surveillance Program" or "PSP."

The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative


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