Google: The Surveillance State of the Art?

Big Brother EarthStill using Google, gmail, and now Google+?  I’m not.  Google seems to have inverted its motto, “Don’t be evil” and has been engaging in wholesale collection of data it gathers on its users and is now polluting what was once its premier product, its search engine, with commercialized, proprietary garbage. This has been going on for some time but many people still do not seem to be aware of it. See The Guardian’s “Google ‘improperly’ accessed Kenyan rival Mocality’s database” and read The Case Against Google for a comprehensive argument against using Google by Mat Honan on Gizmodo.com, both written in 2012.

Google was taken to court in a class action suit in 2013 regarding its intrusive data-gathering practices, a case that it lost.  In a victory for online privacy, an article on Consumer Watchdog.org entitled, ““Gmail Judge Holds Internet Accountable To Wiretap Laws In Key Consumer Victory” sums up the ruling against Google thusly:

“This is a historic step for holding Internet communications subject to the same privacy laws that exist in the rest of society. The court rightly rejected Google’s tortured logic that you have to accept intrusions of privacy if you want to send email,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “The ruling means federal and state wiretap laws apply to the Internet.  It’s a tremendous victory for online privacy. Companies like Google can’t simply do whatever they want with our data and emails.” Read the decision here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/GoogleGmailOrder092613.pdf

Google may be involved in much more than anyone might have imagined, and its influence/involvement may likely far exceed data collection. For a very disturbing examination of the larger issues of what Google may be involved in politically, see Google is Not What it Seems for a 2014 Newsweek article containing an excerpt of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange’s book, “When Google Met Wikileaks” regarding Eric Schmidt, previous Google CEO.

After reading these articles, you may agree that Google has abandoned its motto and is now being evil by its own definition as well as by that of many of its erstwhile users.  This is an example of the kind of dismissal of ethics endemic in capitalism, where profit trumps all, and is the larger lesson we need to learn from this betrayal.  Some of us would argue that a system predicated on profit is inherently corrupt, self-serving, and, well, evil.  It is no small matter that the NSA spying has been piggybacking off information gathered by tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple and why these corporations need to be held accountable.  But even more disturbing, Google may be involved behind the scenes in larger world events.  This is why We the People need to take back control of our government and rein in these corporations who think they are “people” so that we can again have some privacy as well as some say in our lives.

New York Times and the Guardian Calling for Clemency for Snowden

Both the Guardian  and the New York Times published editorials this week calling for Obama to offer Snowden clemency! (See also the Huffington Post for a good synopsis). This is much-heralded news by the activist community for whom Snowden has become a cause celebre for civil liberties and right to privacy and for much of the public who recognize him as a whistleblower and consider him a hero and a patriot.

Snowden’s revelations have resulted in extensive outrage and worldwide demonstrations and have brought the issue of the surveillance state into the light of day so that it can finally be examined and debated by the public.  We at OCV are very grateful to him for this selfless act.  Our position is that Snowden not only did our nation and the world an incredible service, and that he not only should not be charged with a crime, he should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, earning it far more than Barack Obama, and that his leaking of governmental and corporate malfeasance in the face of such personal risk reveals his principled character and high-minded motives. This stands in stark contrast to the utter lack of scruples evidenced by NSA officials such as James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, who told bold-faced lies to Congress, denying what we now know to be true:  that we have been subjected to widespread surveillance that has vacuumed up all manner of electronic data on all Americans and that heads of state, allies, and foreign governments have been spied upon as well.

Exposing intrusive, unconstitutional, and even criminal activity of renegade agencies and corporations SHOULD NOT BE A CRIME, nor should these entities be able to operate in secret, while citizens have no privacy.  This is a reversal of the way a democratic society should function, where the citizenry have a constitutional right to privacy while the government has a duty to be transparent and open. But surveillance is a given in a country whose democracy has been subverted as has ours by corporate interests like Booz Allen Hamilton  who receive government contracts for cybersecurity and whose personnel are cycled through the Washington revolving door and are essentially getting corporate welfare to spy on the very citizens who pay the taxes that pay their salaries.

Chris Hedges, who formerly reported for the New York Times as an investigative reporter, calls an ultra-secret government run by Wall Street and the corporate criminal class an inverse totalitarian state in his book, “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt,” as we are now living in a country where the corporate world is running the government, enabled by a Supreme Court which has ruled corporations are “persons” and money is “speech.”

From Wikipedia:

“In Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt  by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, inverted totalitarianism is described as a system where corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy and where economics trumps politics. In inverted totalitarianism, every natural resource and every living being is commodified and exploited to collapse and the citizenry are lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in their government by excess consumerism and sensationalism.”

Much has been made of the recent brouhaha tech giants Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others have made of the back-door penetration of their networks by the surveillance state (see Tech Industry Leaders Recent Meeting with Obama), but this is mere posturing, as their interest is in their bottom line, certainly not the privacy of consumers or users of the Internet and their products. Google has been building psychological profiles of its users for some time: http://www.alternet.org/google-using-gmail-build-psychological-profiles-hundreds-millions-people and there is Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State .

Chris Hedges was let go from the New York Times because of his unswerving devotion to reporting the truth and we sincerely hope that this editorial is a sign that the New York Times is becoming more willing to risk speaking truth to power and covering issues important to the 99%.  It is our fervent wish that Snowden’s revelations continue to cause a ripple effect throughout all levels of our society and that it results in government and corporate surveillance being heavily curtailed and monitored so that we can again live in a freer, democratic state wherein our civil liberties and right to privacy are respected as inviolable human rights.

Education Under Attack

Education is being taken over by corporate interests and religious extremists whose intent is to privatize for profit and dismantle public education in the case of the former, and to replace scientific information with fundamentalist, patriarchal religious dogma in the case of the latter.  Our educational institutions are in crisis and citizens’ access to education threatened.

See these articles:

“The Corporate Takeover of Education” by Luma Nichol http://www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/?q=node/2120 

“The dark side of home schooling: creating soldiers for the culture war” by Katherine Stewart

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/08/christian-home-schooling-dark-side?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Religious groups pushing for more and more influence in public schools:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/08/18128914-cheerleaders-can-quote-scripture-on-banners-judge-rules?lite