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SurveillanceOver the last ten years we have had a  spectacular set of whistleblowers originating from official government snooping agencies and/or corporations cooperating with them. A handy list can be found in Wikipedia searching for "List of whistleblowers". What all these people told us is that governments are involved in massive surveillance operations against everybody foreign or domestic. Surveillance operations have been growing constantly, fed by black budgets so secret that even their amounts are classified. A veritable alphabet soup of government acronym agencies now monitors our every move through every possible source of data. What cannot be intercepted directly is purchased from willing corporations. What cannot be purchased is acquired from other governments. We are talking about a massive network of information processing and storage.

IN THE BEGINNING

The original goal of surveillance operations was simply to collect and analyze metadata. Metadata is data about data. It is also called traffic analysis. It is simply finding out which station called which one, when and how often. Traffic analysis is based on the idea that the knowledge surrounding a message is very important even if we don't have access to the contents of the message itself. Metadata seems benign snooping since private information is not released. For example, it is possible to know that person A sent an email to person B yesterday at 4:34 AM without compromising the privacy of neither A nor B. The problem with metadata snooping is that it is a slippery slope. Once agencies begin to walk through this road, they invariably want more. Since there isn't a definitive line between data and metadata, it is easy to justify collecting more info. How about GPS coordinates of A and B? Sure! E-mail provider? Absolutely! Browser used? No sweat! Previous browsed page? Of course! And so on. At which point does the metadata end and the data begins? Well… this is also decided by nameless, faceless bureaucrats who are not under any type of scrutiny nor control. So much for safeguards!

EVENTUALLY

One of the most chilling statements that Edward Snowden issued is the title of our article: "They Want Everything". Snooping agencies have been operating on the slippery slope for so long and have had custom laws made for them to such a degree that metadata collection and analysis has been relegated to a second place. Now it is data. That's right. They want and collect everything. They want to know who you are and what you are doing. Where you are and what did you have for dinner. Who you know and who knows you. They want everything. This is indeed the "surveillance society". It is here and it is real. Everything and anything that is digitized is subject to scrutiny to one degree or another. Your degree of privacy is exactly ZERO. This is today. Tomorrow we will have even lower levels of apparatchiks having access to all your information (see for example The Death Of Privacy ). Do you feel safe yet?

BECAUSE A PROGRAM SAID SO

Many people believe that such massive amounts of information can't possibly be processed and feel safe from government intrusion. This is a total and complete deception. The truth is that all this information is sifted and analyzed by programs. They look for keywords and syntactic contexts. They look for statistical relations and possible connections. They create maps of your contacts and calculate probabilities that you may be up to something with your neighbour. Once all this massive amount of information is sifted, pre-analyzed and classified it is then passed on to humans who decide what to do next. It is at this stage that you become a "Person of Interest" or a suspect of being suspect. Because a program said so. Programs are now the apparatchiks of the surveillance society. Getting that warm and fuzzy feeling yet?

OVERT

Most "intelligence gathering" organizations (or SigInt) used to be Top Secret or above covert operations. Nowadays nobody really gives a rat's ass. Why bother? The Internet is constantly churning out their acronyms, objectives, locations and so on. Politicians are constantly upgrading laws to protect them and so allowing them to do whatever they want "in the name of national security"… right! Everybody pretty much knows these organizations or at least make a reasonable (and usually correct) assumption that they exist. It does not matter where you are or how benign you believe your country to be. If there is a government you can bet everything you have they are collecting information on you. It is just a matter of degree… yet…there is a constant: they want everything!

TOTAL CONTROL

As we have stated in many occasions, the ultimate goal of all these operations is ultimate control. Sure, occasionally they may dismantle a real threat or plot or help capture a few so-called "criminals". But don't delude yourself. Massive surveillance to this degree is ridiculously expensive and extremely hard to plan and implement. This is not a fly-by-night amateur operation. There are a lot of people behind this, dedicated to make it work. As such it is only ridiculous to believe that all these people are doing all this just because they feel like doing it or to catch a few loose so-called "terrorist" ends. The final end is much, much bigger; as big as the entire population of the world.

You may still believe that when we say that job security for politicians is their goal it cannot be so; it is too trivial. Well… it is not. Not if your salary is 10 or 20 or 100 times the average salary of a common person. Not if you have privileges and access to special programs and live a life of luxury. All thanks to being in government. All of this can only continue for as long as people are obedient servants and do not deviate from the apparent freedom that they are allowed. It is precisely these deviations that are critical to be watched because people do not react well to scams. Upset people tend to change politicians and this spells the end of their privileges. Hence, the need for total control. This need is, of course, even more critical for power elites. Those actually holding politician's strings. The only real power levers they have are politicians but for them to be effective there must be a government in play. Power elites are really frightened by truly free markets because they cannot be manipulated. For this reason they need total control. The entire hierarchical structure is based on total control. In the past control was exercised through fear but nowadays it is better exercised through the so-called Judicial system. Why enrage people with displays of naked power if troublemakers can be quietly removed from activity by tossing them into jail? Even better, make an example of them. Show the people the "right" way of thinking… or else.

THEY WANT EVERYTHING

This is their new motto. We know this much and we also know that it is not in our best interest if they get it. It is not that they don't need it (which they don't); it is that this data represent our very lives! We do not want to surrender who we are to them. Even if there was a way to ensure that they will use our data only to protect us (which does not exist), we would still oppose them based on principle. The fact that they want everything is telling us that they don't abide by any principle and this is telling us that their use of our data won't either.

CONCLUSION

There is a brave new world out there. They want your data, all of it. They want to know you, close and personal. They want your obedience, unquestionable and complete. They want you only because they can't get rid of you… yet. Privilege has its perks and a price. They are willing to pay it with your money and your suffering.

Even if you do not agree with our explanations, at least listen to what people such as Snowden have to say. Governments do indeed want everything. The only question left is this: do you trust them with your life and the life of your family?

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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