Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tom Lantos on Yahoo cooperation with China

This is a few years old and I wasn't aware of it at the time. I admire Rep. Lantos for saying these things.

Thank you Richard for pointing out Yahoo and talking about this hearing when we were discussing the role of name-brand IT in Occupy and the new post-Lehman left.

In this graphic, the EFF calls out thirteen corporations: Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Myspace, Skype, Twitter, Verizon and Yahoo. Yahoo has since gotten one star out of four from the EFF, for fighting for user privacy in the courts. Good. But I think there is a serious deficiency of journalism that covers these 13 companies in a critical way. And in my opinion, the fact that some of them are part of the media's essential "social networking strategy" in itself will tend to ameliorate the coverage. Specifically, Apple and Google, for their mobile platforms, Amazon, for Kindle, and Facebook and Twitter as the de facto mediums for dissemination of news and ancillary promotions around news.

The elephant in the room is that as the endless war rolls into its third presidency (either now or in 2016,) I think quite a few of these information and computer corporations will continue to sell people out and cooperate with governments that are repressive now, and governments like the USA that are not facing a hell of a lot of outcry for codifying preemptive military detention. There is some, but not from the center. I don't view a Chinese dissident differently from an American one, but the idea of U.S. companies helping go after Americans, and being wrong a lot of the time, would shock a lot of Americans. Especially if you consider the high false-positive rate that JSOC is having with assassinations, according to Dana Priest, according to Stanley McChrystal. One would assume that the "elite" JSOC is about as good as it gets, and that isn't very good. It's a different agency, but I don't think that matters.

In addition to Yahoo we have the example of AT&T. I think Google did say no to something, so yeah, kudos to Google on that. I hope there will be a lot more people in the coming years who see through the fetishization of Silicon Valley's cool inventions, read them as news and not simply as an inert conduit over which you read news. And consider that they may be participants in a military-industrial complex where in place of military you can substitute the octopus legs of a militarized police response to Occupy, war, DHS, fighting terrorism and surveillance in the U.S., and in place of Boeing or Lockheed, the cooptable information sector. And the response could be aimed towards any Occupy demonstrator or, if the JSOC example is any guide, a high rate of innocent bystanders per success.

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