In the age of the internet and smart phones, if you wanted to suppress change who would you go to? North Korea perhaps. The Chinese have embraced capitalism but they still are not big on free speech, free press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble or to petition (most U.S. police departments are not fond of the last two either). Ironically or maybe not that ironic, you could go to a number of U.S. or western European corporations who will be happy to sell you the technology and software to help shut down those pesky freedom fighters – Corporations from western democracies are facilitating digital censorship by repressive regimes
Is the market for these technologies being driven solely by repressive regimes?
The majority of surveillance technology companies are based in wealthy Western countries and exist primarily to fulfill domestic demands. Much of what they sell is dual-use, i.e. it can be used innocuously and it can also be used to facilitate mass surveillance and censorship. For example software that might be used as a spam filter in the UK could be used to block, or otherwise interfere with, emails containing the word “democracy” in Bahrain.
Given that this is the case, one might have expected these companies to exercise caution in selling such potentially lethal technologies—but instead most of them have been eagerly marketing their products to repressive regimes in the Middle East and Africa, and turning a blind eye to the consequences. Because of the lack of judicial or regulatory oversight and their willful disregard for human rights, these governments are effectively buying themselves unfettered access to every citizen’s movements, activities and communications.
Some companies have gone above and beyond for their clients, like Area SpA, an Italian firm that built a sophisticated mass surveillance system in Assad’s Syria. Area even flew teams of employees out to Damascus to construct a monitoring center under the direction of the Syrian secret police. After the project was exposed, Area quietly withdrew from the contract.
There is a list of companies that sell surveillance and censorship technology at the link – that includes U.S. companies.
In I did not know this. The science fiction effect
Luigi Galvani, an Italian physician, discovered electric currents in nerves when his assistant, who was standing next to an electrical machine, touched his scalpel to a frog’s dissected leg causing it to twitch. Galvani called it “animal electricity.” This chance discovery prompted other physician-scientists to use electrostatic machines to zap dissected frog muscles and, well, make them twitch. The mysterious process was called galvanism; today, it’s called neuro- or electro-physiology.
While the group of friends at Lake Geneva imagined the ghoulish possibilities of galvanism, one young woman was so horrified by the idea of reanimating corpses that she subsequently had a dream in which she saw “the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.”
Who was that young woman and the story she wrote based on the paper published by Luigi Galvani(1737-1798)? Mary Shelley. She had first decided to write a short story, but her husband Percy Shelley persuaded her to write what would become the world’s first science fiction novel. Also in the same article is how H.G. Wells story The Island of Doctor Moreau gave rise to what would become the anti-vivisection movement. While vivisections are still done, at least the animals are anesthetized. Just recently the United States suspended all new grants that use chimpanzees in research experiments.
black backed jackal, kenya – sure take a quick pic and then i’m off to lunch
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
Launched in May 2004, Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation — news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda — every day, in real time.
Using the website mediamatters.org as the principal vehicle for disseminating research and information, Media Matters posts rapid-response items as well as longer research and analytic reports documenting conservative misinformation throughout the media. Additionally, Media Matters works daily to notify activists, journalists, pundits, and the general public about instances of misinformation, providing them with the resources to rebut false claims and to take direct action against offending media institutions.
So having done this ground breaking investigation, gasp, Carlson has found that Media Matters lives up to its mission statement. Carlson will soon be investigating gravity for making people fall down rather then up, the sun for setting and the anal cyst on Rush Limbaugh’s ass in a future hard hitting pieces of right-wing journalism.
Elizabeth Gilbert: A new way to think about creativity
Above all, Gilbert makes a powerful case for the tremendous importance of showing up — of good old-fashioned hard work — in the creative process, something we all intuitively understand but often roll our eyes at because it isn’t as exciting and glamorous and alluring as the prospect of a Eureka moment or a single flash of insight that magically transforms our mediocrity into genius.
This should not be mistaken for NYT”s David Brooks strange take on the idea that hard work alone can produce the next Beethoven.
Grace Woodroofe – I’ve Handled Myself Wrong. Gorgeous video even if the music is not to your taste.