cross posted on Salon.com (and some grammatical errors corrected) …
I have been fighting on-line scams and frauds for years by exposing them on my website and I used to get irritated that regulatory agencies didn’t even seem to care. For example, it is easy to claim NASA endorsed your product and get away with it. Even journalists that covered these scams had to be careful not to use the words scam or fraud or else their employers wouldn’t let them print the story – because minimizing potential legal risk to a TV station outweighed any public service value. Interestingly, the only scammers to ever go after me with international lawsuits were connected to US senator Joseph Lieberman – something that made more sense later. Nowadays, such concerns seem trivial.
Then after working as a senior manager for a large consulting firm and watching 2 billion dollars in shareholder equity vanish, I noticed the glowing ratings and target prices right up to the point of bankruptcy and beyond and marveled at the collusion between ratings agencies and crooked firms. It seemed that they were all part of a old-boys network and that the real losers were personal pension funds that had invested in them based on their investment grade ratings and employees that foolishly had all their retirement funds (401K) in company stock.
Over time, after reading sites like www.shadowstats.com and seeing how misleading government statistical figures are, and following Glenn Greenwald’s columns I began to realize that the level of corruption was an order of magnitude larger than I ever imagined and absolutely everywhere.
If there was a turning point for me, I think it was the fact that not a single nation on Earth had leadership willing to support Wikileaks or even the latest democratic revolution in Egypt. That really shocked me. Not even Canada had any guts. Was the entire leadership of the planet a bunch of evil psychopaths? Is Earth already a police state?
The biggest change I see now is that we have a younger generation that has coalesced because of Twitter, Facebook and social networking. Flash uprisings are possible. Cultures and language are merging. The anonymous nature helps too – there is no leader to assassinate or bribe and it is virtually impossible to stop. Short of temporarily shutting down the internet (which I believe every country must be seriously considering) there is little they can do other than wholesale slaughter of protesters and hoping of course that they win. Propaganda is in trouble too since one brutal post on YouTube is enough to wreck it.
I also suspect that if a few million Americans were to march on Capital Hill calling for the immediate dismissal of Congress and shut down DC until trials for corruption commenced that the USA would react no differently than any other police state. We just haven’t pushed the regime hard enough yet to see how ugly it would be. Would the US army fire on its own people if ordered to by the regime? I certainly hope not. If you are in the army I would love to know (anonymously of course) what you would do.
This brings me to the reason I am writing this. Many people here, including Glenn Greenwald, may very well be the ones that someday publish that masterpiece, the one that galvanizes millions into action and really upsets powerful people. He or you may very well be the next Julian Assange, Public Enemy. When that happens, many of you will be watched, accounts will be breached and your friends will be harassed. The fact that Glenn is on the radar (look up the HBGary scandal) ought to be pretty worrying.
I have been putting together a tutorial series on security / privacy issues that I think that all the readers here should take a look at. In particular, the last posting showing you how to encrypt your hard drive is important. This way, if anyone takes your laptop, your friends addresses and personal files will be safe. I think it is also worth considering learning how to post some things anonymously so that you can bounce ideas off each other without fear of ending up on the no-fly list or worse. If after reading the series you need additional tutorials, please ask and I’ll do my best to add them quickly.
BTW, salon.com stores your passwords so that they can send it to you when you forget. This is a bad practice. Make sure that your Salon.com password isn’t used for anything else.
Staying Alive in a mad world series – www.nlcpr.com/blog (seven tutorials as of this post)