The internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.
In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon counterinsurgency surveillance project.
A visionary intelligence officer, William Godel, realized that the key to winning the war in Vietnam was not outgunning the enemy, but using new information technology to understand their motives and anticipate their movements. This idea--using computers to spy on people and groups perceived as a threat, both at home and abroad--drove ARPA to develop the internet in the 1960s, and continues to be at the heart of the modern internet we all know and use today. As Levine shows, surveillance wasn't something that suddenly appeared on the internet; it was woven into the fabric of the technology.
But this isn't just a story about the NSA or other domestic programs run by the government. As the book spins forward in time, Levine examines the private surveillance business that powers tech-industry giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, revealing how these companies spy on their users for profit, all while doing double duty as military and intelligence contractors. Levine shows that the military and Silicon Valley are effectively inseparable: a military-digital complex that permeates everything connected to the internet, even coopting and weaponizing the antigovernment privacy movement that sprang up in the wake of Edward Snowden.
With deep research, skilled storytelling, and provocative arguments, Surveillance Valley will change the way you think about the news--and the device on which you read it.
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About the Author
Yasha Levine is an investigative journalist for Pando Daily, a San Francisco-based news magazine focused on covering the politics and power of big tech. He has been published in Wired Magazine, The Nation, Slate, Penthouse, The New York Observer, Playboy, Not Safe For Work Corp, Alternet, and many others. He has also appeared on network television, including MSNBC, and has had his work profiled by the New York Observer, Vanity Fair, and The Verge, among others.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Oakland, California 1
Part I Lost History
Chapter 1 A New Kind of War 13
Chapter 2 Command, Control, and Counterinsurgency 35
Chapter 3 Spying on Americans 73
Part II False Promises
Chapter 4 Utopia and Privatization 101
Chapter 5 Surveillance Inc. 139
Chapter 6 Edward Snowden's Arms Race 185
Chapter 7 Internet Privacy, Funded by Spies 219
Epilogue: Mauthausen, Austria 271
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Conventional wisdom says that, in the 1960's, a group of universities started what became the Internet with help from the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency. The reality is very different. William Godel, a military intelligence officer, thought that a better way to win in Vietnam was to use new technology to anticipate the movements and understand the motives of the enemy. Such new technology was also used on domestic war opposition. That is what led ARPA to create the Internet; using computers to spy on Americans. Today, all of the major Internet firms, like Google, Facebook and Amazon, all collect private information for profit. They also let agencies like the National Security Agency scoop up their activity for its own purposes. Silicon Valley and the military are generally one and the same; a sort of military/digital complex. The Tor browser was supposed to be The Answer: a method of communication that the government could not read. But, Tor got most of its original funding from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (the people behind Voice of America and Radio Free Europe). For most of its existence, it has subsisted on large government contracts. Why is one part of the government, the BBG, supporting Tor, and another part of the government, the FBI, trying to shut it down? It keeps all the activists and other anti-government types in one place. Tor's credibility is certainly helped by an endorsement from Edward Snowden. This is an excellent book. For some people, this book might be common knowledge. For the vast majority of people, this book is full of revelations about how ubiquitous surveillance has become in America. Nobody comes out clean in this book, which is highly recommended.