Civil Liberties  
comments_image Comments

Glenn Greenwald: How America's Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear

Once the government is able to monitor everything we do and say, we will be unable to fight back.

Continued from previous page


Rosa Luxembourg said, “He who does not move does not notice his chains.”

You can acculturate people to believing that tyranny is freedom, that their limits are actually emancipations and freedom, that is what this Surveillance State does, by training people  to accept their own conformity that they are actually free, that they no longer even realize the ways in which they’re being limited.

So the last point I just want to mention, and we can talk about this in the discussion that follows and it probably will, it’s usually what discussions afterwards entail, is what can be done about all this?

There are just a few quick points I want to make about that.

One is that you can do things that remove yourself from the surveillance matrix. Not completely, but to the best extent that it can. There are people who only engage in transactions using cash, as inconvenient as that is, it at least removes that level of surveillance. There are ways of communicating on the internet using very effective forms of anonymity, which I will talk about in a minute. There are ways of educating yourself about how to engage in interaction and activism beyond the prying eye of the U.S. government.

There are important ways to educate yourself about the rights that you have when interacting with government agents. So much of what the government learns about people is that they let them learn that without having any legal obligation to do so. So much of government searches or government questioning is done under the manipulative pretext of consent, where people thought they had to consent or they don’t have the right to, and give up information about information they didn’t need to give up. And educating yourself about what your rights are by going to the Center for Constitutional Rights Web site or the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms or the ACLU. Lots of places online will tell you how to do that.

Very important means of subverting this one-way mirror that I’ve described is forcible, radical transparency. It’s one of the reasons I support, so enthusiastically and unqualafiably, groups like Anonymous and WikiLeaks. I want holes to be blown in the wall of secrecy.

The way that this ends up operating effectively is only because they’re able to conceal what they do, and that’s why they consider these unauthorized means of transparency so threatening.

The last point I want to make about things that can be done is that there are groups that are pursuing very interesting and effective forms of anonymity on the internet.

There are things like the Tor project and other groups that enable people to use the internet without any detection from government authorities. That has the effect of preventing regimes that actually bar their citizens from using the Internet from doing so since you can no longer trace the origins of the Internet user. But it also protects people who live in countries like ours where the government is trying to constantly monitor what we do by sending our communications through multiple proxies around the world that can’t be invaded. There’s really a war taking place: an arms race where the government and these groups are attempting to stay one tactical step ahead of the other. In terms of ability to shield internet communications from the government and the government’s ability to invade them and participating in this war in ways that are supportive of the “good side” are really critical as is veiling yourself from the technology that exists, to make what you do as tight as possible.