This is a talk given by the journalist Yasha Levine at the Seattle Town Hall which centres on the theses of his book “Surveillance Valley, The Secret Military History of the Internet”, which I am presently reading, and which I would highly recommend.
The talk, of course, can give only a small insight to the wealth of detail that Yasha managed to collect for the book. In the talk he introduces the work first, then makes a few readings from its contents, and then takes questions and answers for the remainder of the time.
Yasha points out that the internet was originally a military enterprise meant as a tool for counterinsurgency, both at home and abroad, and nearly all major early developments were funded by the American security forces, and played out at top American Universities.
Later, when the internet became a commercial enterprise, then large scale corporations like Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. developed, which have also cooperated with the government’s surveillance efforts.
Where Yasha got into trouble was by pointing out that even counter culture projects and heroes have been funded by the American government, and pointing out the limitations of projects like TOR, which did not go down too well in those circles.
How far you are willing to go along with what he says, and what doubts you may have, can only be substantiated after reading the book, which I think anyone interested in the current debates must do. This is certainly an informed and useful look at the continuing symbiosis of government and corporation.
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