Blogs are different to newspapers. You can get away with greater subjectivity in a blog than you can in a newspaper. But newspapers cannot absolve themselves of their responsibility for pure objective fact by calling a particular section a blog.
So when Martha Gill wrote about Anonymous in the Telegraph blog, it was wrong. Her headline says it all: Anonymous have been exposed as hypocrites. Watch them try to wriggle out of it (6 November 2013). You can hear the glee in her voice – this is personal, not factual.
Anonymous responded with an open letter to the media in general. It accused Gill of being inaccurate in one of her two accusations (that their masks are produced in what she strongly implies is a sweatshop) and hypocritical in another (that Warner Bros benefits from every sale of a mask). On the latter, Anonymous suggests that royalties are a sad fact of life; and wonders how many Telegraph staff support Foxconn by using Apple or Dell, Sony or HP equipment. “Since 2010, at least 17 deaths occurred when employees committed suicide by jumping from the roof of the building. To use a phrase from Martha Gill’s article, these are certainly ‘unpleasant conditions.’”
But in reality, this incident is just a small local battle in a much larger war. Anonymous – and it’s not alone – believes that much of the media has been bought and usurped by government and big business; and supports the agenda of government and big business to the exclusion of truth. It is no coincidence that there is a nationwide (US) march against corporate media planned for next Saturday:
We are planning a march and rally in Washington DC to raise awareness of the privatization, corporatization, and monopolization of the mainstream media and the corruption of our fifth estate. The failure of the corporate networks to adequately cover critical social issues has allowed for the rampant corruption of our political and economic system to go unquestioned and unchallenged.
March against mainstream media
If you have already thought about this, it cannot be denied. A few (very few) newspapers have kicked back in recent months with the Snowden revelations (notably the Guardian, Washington Post and Der Spiegel); but it’s also noticeable that the Guardian is under threat of prosecution in the UK for doing so.
And if you want a specific current example of this media betrayal, consider an EFF blog from Thursday: How Can the New York Times Endorse an Agreement the Public Can’t Read?
The New York Times’ editorial board has made a disappointing endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even as the actual text of the agreement remains secret. That raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn’t yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.
TPP is the successor to ACTA. ACTA was defeated by European activism. It is dead. TPP allows the same provisions to be established everywhere else without European involvement. Once this is achieved, the new discussions on an EU/US trade agreement will be dragged into the same agreements – it will be inevitable.
But where is the mainstream media’s concern over either? In defeating ACTA, the people made it very clear that they do not want ACTA – more specifically the internet-controlling, copyright-enforcing aspects of it. To understand the great Battle of ACTA, read Monica Horten’s new book, A Copyright Masquerade.
Rather than accept the will of the people, big business and government withdrew, regrouped, renamed and returned from a different direction, calling it TPP and being equally if not more secretive.
The problem is that the mainstream media is not on the side of its readers, but on the side of its owners.
Quite simply, the majority of US news outlets are owned by the same media companies that are lobbying in favour of trade agreements that will take over control of what appears on the internet, who can see what, and who goes where. Quite frankly, we can no longer believe what we read in the press any more than we can believe what government tells us.
The following information is intended to list characteristics of persons that may be involved in terrorist activity that are described as “sleepers” or otherwise persons who camouflage their involvement in terrorist activity or planning by attempting to fit in with others in our society.
It then provides five ‘attitude indicators’:
- Support for militant Islamic groups
- Excusing violence against Americans on the grounds that American actions provoked the problem
- Fury at the West for reasons ranging from personal problems to global policies of the U.S.
- Conspiracy theories about Westerners (e.g. the CIA arranged for 9/11 to legitimize the invasion of foreign lands)
- Accusing the West of trying to destroy Islam
Let’s look at these.
1. Support for militant Islamic groups
No, I support no militant groups; but that includes large sections of the UK and US governments and their intelligence and law enforcement agencies whom I classify as militant groups (incidentally, I’m seriously not sure whether the governments run the agencies or the agencies run the governments).
2. Excusing violence against Americans…
No, I do not excuse violence against Americans
…on the grounds that American actions provoked the problem
But, yes, I do believe that US global policies (particularly globalization, control of oil, and support for western banks, defence industries and drug companies) are the ultimate cause of many of the world’s problems.
3. Fury at the West…
Fury, no; but anger, yes.
4. Conspiracy theories about Westerners…
I absolutely believe that the west has engaged in false flag operations to legitimize many things, including the invasion of foreign lands and the restriction of personal freedoms.
5. Accusing the West of trying to destroy Islam
The west is not trying to destroy Islam — the west needs Islam as a fear figure to justify bigger budgets, stronger laws, higher taxes, and, yes, the invasion of foreign lands. Rather than destroy Islam, the west needs to maintain it; but as the bogey man.
On the basis of this document, it seems clear that I am potentially if not actually a sleeper terrorist. This, says the document, “may indicate suspicious activity that warrants law enforcement scrutiny.” My neighbours should, therefore, “notify law enforcement authorities.”
I’m so glad I live in the free world.
Even if you can’t get off the pot, at least you can decide which side of the fence you wish to pee. Bruce Schneier, precariously positioned as the CTO of one of the ISPs known to have helped GCHQ tap the world’s fibre cables, and simultaneously a director of the EFF, has decided on the direction of his stream of anger.
I have resisted saying this up to now, and I am saddened to say it, but the US has proved to be an unethical steward of the internet. The UK is no better.
(Actually, the UK would be far worse if GCHQ had half the money that the NSA commands.)
But what to do? Schneier offers three suggestions: expose, design and influence governance.
Expose means to subject bad things to the disinfectant of sunlight. We need whistleblowers, says Schneier.
I already have five stories from people like you, and I’ve just started collecting. I want 50. There’s safety in numbers, and this form of civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.
Design is to redesign the internet and its software and hardware components in a manner that is resistant to government subversion.
In particular, we need open protocols, open implementations, open systems – these will be harder for the NSA to subvert.
And governance requires influencing the future governance of the internet.
We need to figure out new means of internet governance, ones that makes it harder for powerful tech countries to monitor everything. For example, we need to demand transparency, oversight, and accountability from our governments and corporations.
But he accepts that it won’t be easy or overnight.
Has any country that engaged in mass surveillance of its own citizens voluntarily given up that capability? Has any mass surveillance country avoided becoming totalitarian?
What we need now is for all the internet and security luminaries of the world to come out and stand with Schneier, and to say to government in a voice that cannot be ignored: Enough. You don’t get security by spying on everyone. And you don’t have secret projects hidden from your own people. You are our servants. You are not our masters.