Inside the Kremlin’s hall of mirrors

Late last year, I came across a Russian manual called Information-Psychological War Operations: A Short Encyclopedia and Reference Guide (The 2011 edition, credited to Veprintsev et al, and published in Moscow by Hotline-Telecom, can be purchased online at the sale price of 348 roubles). The book is designed for “students, political technologists, state security services and civil servants” – a kind of user’s manual for junior information warriors. The deployment of information weapons, it suggests, “acts like an invisible radiation” upon its targets: “The population doesn’t even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn’t switch on its self-defence mechanisms.” If regular war is about actual guns and missiles, the encyclopedia continues, “information war is supple, you can never predict the angle or instruments of an attack”.
The 495-page encyclopedia contained an introduction to information-psychological war, a glossary of key terms and detailed flowcharts describing the methods and strategies of defensive and offensive operations, including “operational deception” (maskirovka), “programmatical-mathematical influence”, “disinformation”, “imitation”, and “TV and radio broadcasting”. In “normal war” the encyclopedia explains, “victory is a case of yes or no; in information war it can be partial. Several rivals can fight over certain themes within a person’s consciousness.”
I had always imagined the phrase “information war” to refer to some sort of geopolitical debate, with Russian propagandists on one side and western propagandists on the other, both trying to convince everyone in the middle that their side was right. But the encyclopedia suggested something more expansive: information war was less about methods of persuasion and more about “influencing social relations” and “control over the sources of strategic reserves”. Invisible weapons acting like radiation to override biological responses and seize strategic reserves? The text seemed more like garbled science fiction than a guide for students and civil servants.

Confronting the surveillance state

By Memorial Day weekend, Congress will likely have decided whether the federal government’s mass surveillance programs — exposed first by The New York Times in December 2005 and more broadly by National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 — will be partially reined in or will instead become a dominant, permanent feature of American life.

The creation of what many refer to as the “American Surveillance State” began in secret, just days after the Sept. 11 attacks. As the wreckage of the Twin Towers smoldered, President Bush and his top national security and intelligence advisers were making decisions that would trigger a constitutional crisis over surveillance programs that the public was told was essential to combating terrorism. The first act in this post-Sept.11 drama began on Capitol Hill.


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In a cameras-everywhere culture, science fiction becomes reality

Science fiction writer David Brin calls it “a tsunami of lights” — a future where tiny cameras are everywhere, lighting up everything we do, and even predicting what we’ll do next.
Unlike George Orwell’s novel “1984,” where only Big Brother controlled the cameras, in 2015, cheap, mobile technology has turned everyone into a watcher.
A snowboarder with a GoPro can post a YouTube video of a friend’s 540-degree McTwist in the halfpipe. But also — as happened recently — a Penn State fraternity can upload Facebook photos of partially naked, sleeping college women.
A San Jose homeowner cowers behind a locked door while she watches an intruder stroll through her home on a surveillance video. A man launches a drone to spy on his neighbor tanning by her pool. Pet owners monitor their dogs.

Same Surveillance State, Different War

How government justification for mass surveillance during the war on drugs turned into rationalization for spying on citizens in the war on terror

It’s been a long 22 months since the first of thousands of classified government documents became public in what has turned into a drumbeat of astonishing revelations about the scope of mass surveillance carried out by the United States government.

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The History of the Board Ho

people who participate in chat boards like stratics often fail to realize that they are really part of a corporate data mining project in which their posts are scanned for personal information, preferences, buying habits etc. they are, by virtue of their contributions, giving away valuable information about themselves valuable to corporations that build video games and other tech toys. by providing this personal information, they also provide a jerry-springeresque spectacle for the entertainment of others, hopefully drawing more eyes to the board, hence more posts, hence more data for the marketing data crunchers. the participants, by giving away valuable personal information about themselves have commodified their private lives they have become board ho’s. the social structure of these boards is highly controlled to maximize this effect, with certain types of elite posters encouraged and rewarded these are the board ho divas. these posters play a pivotal role in ensuring that the product delivered to the marketing machine will be as useful as possible. in return the board ho divas receive a kind of social capital from the other board ho’s. At least they get something. The rest of us are getting broke off for free.

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I’m not a number, I’m a free man!

I am Brother X. I took the name, Brother X when I renounced my birth name. I have done so because I believe that my birth name is connected to my social security number, my credit records, my consumer behavior records, etc. etc. ad infinitum. This has effectively rendered my birth name a slave name.

No offense is meant to people like Malcom X, in fact it is in solidarity with former movements like the black power movements that I renounce the name my parents gave me and assume a moniker that is a symbol of my discontent with finding myself living in a panopticon. I am Brother X. I have no history, no behaviors, no metadata. I am not a number. I am a free man.

Beneath the Rose

There is a certain irony in discussing secrecy in the panopticon of the modern world. Beneath the suspended rose of the conspirators, whether for or against the state, the occult virtue of secrecy is a somewhat quaint conceit, I can ask you to turn off your phones, but that will do little good: it will in fact be a suspicious sign. Your GPS coordinates are known, the microphones and cameras you carry can be remotely activated. Your very interest in this subject has been duly noted, you are guilty by association, and that thought crime is logged and cross-matched with your other deviations. In the security industry phones are known colloquially as trackers and we use them to micro-manage our docility.

No phone?  The number plates of your car have been logged by roadside cameras on the way here, your credit card details when you paid for a ticket, your facebook page when you liked the event. You are haemorrhaging data, and in addition you have been trained to dutifully update your status and identify your friend’s faces to complete a picture that is almost perfected. As the refrain in Orwell’s 1984 goes ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me.’ You are being cyber stalked by your boss, your work colleagues, your exes, your ‘friends,’ credit agencies and corporations.

Everyone is a fucking cop nowadays.

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