Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex

Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex

The internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon counterinsurgency surveillance project.A visionary intelligence officer, William Godel, realized that the key to winning the war in Vietnam was not outgunning the ene...

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Title:Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex
Author:Yasha Levine
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Surveillance Valley: The Rise of the Military-Digital Complex Reviews

  • Avery

    To really understand what makes this book interesting it's probably best to get yourself in the right frame of mind, by reading something like Jacques Ellul's

    or Dmitry Orlov's

    . What is a technology? Our gut instinct as Americans is that technology makes our lives easier. But can it make them harder as well? Has the Internet turned America into a nation of serfs?

    With the proper background, you will understand what makes this book so interestin

    To really understand what makes this book interesting it's probably best to get yourself in the right frame of mind, by reading something like Jacques Ellul's

    or Dmitry Orlov's

    . What is a technology? Our gut instinct as Americans is that technology makes our lives easier. But can it make them harder as well? Has the Internet turned America into a nation of serfs?

    With the proper background, you will understand what makes this book so interesting. Yasha Levine discovers many omissions in Internet history -- the true earliest uses of the technology and the way that the public is still being dazzled with "technology to reclaim our privacy" today. We are being trained to eagerly participate in systems of monitoring and control.

  • Adam  McPhee

    The first part is a history of the Internet. It reminded me of reading

    in high school: on the one hand, constantly dismayed by the appalling practices used to create and sustain an industry, but on the other hand, I was also left with the feeling of wanting a burger (or in this case to reminisce about my early experiences with the Internet and to to

    The first part is a history of the Internet. It reminded me of reading

    in high school: on the one hand, constantly dismayed by the appalling practices used to create and sustain an industry, but on the other hand, I was also left with the feeling of wanting a burger (or in this case to reminisce about my early experiences with the Internet and to to celebrate the technological achievements, even though they're being used to track dissidents and kill public services). Perhaps it's a testament to all of the pro-Internet propaganda I've consumed. Not that the author is anti-Internet, rather, he thinks we're framing the debate wrong. For example, he points out that the surveillance/privacy debate is completely skewed with 'privacy' somehow always being a good thing, except that it's letting corporations and government bodies run wild without oversight.

    The second part of the book focuses more narrowly on this surveillance/privacy question, looking at the Tor Project in fine detail. Always found myself reminiscing here, for the heyday of Levine's reporting for the NSFW Corp and Pando websites. And he's completely vindicated. Well, he was right at the time too, but the insane amount of vitriol sent his way made it feel less triumphant. He completely exposes Tor as a honeypot, a cover for spies (something I'd had trouble conceptualizing when I'd read about it earlier, Levine lays out the details more clearly here), and not the mathematically infallible tool it's booster (once?) claimed it was.

    The whole book is incredibly well-researched (something I think Levine, and also his sometimes writing partner Mark Ames, don't get enough credit for).

    One thing I'm left curious about: is Tor still revered among the Silicon Valley elite the way it was in '13/'14? I suppose it's a moot question though, because after reading Surveillance Valley it's hard to see how anyone could defend it.

  • Kars

    A tour the force. Levine offers a radically alternative history of the internet. Like most people I bought into the narrative of its inherently liberatory nature for quite some time. My career would not exist if it wasn't for the internet, so like many of my peers I am severely biased towards it. But for a while now, a sense of unease with this perspective had been growing. And this book was the final nail in the coffin for me. The internet was conceived as a weapon of social control and surveil

    A tour the force. Levine offers a radically alternative history of the internet. Like most people I bought into the narrative of its inherently liberatory nature for quite some time. My career would not exist if it wasn't for the internet, so like many of my peers I am severely biased towards it. But for a while now, a sense of unease with this perspective had been growing. And this book was the final nail in the coffin for me. The internet was conceived as a weapon of social control and surveillance, by governments with aid from the private sector. There is nothing inherently good about it. Levine convincingly shows how flawed the internet freedom movement is. The only way we can make this technology work for the many, is by increasing the democratic control over it. It is no mean feat, but at least now we have our eye on the ball.

  • lauren  g

    A post-modern must-read.

  • Noah Skocilich

    Great investigative journalism about something that matters.

    Told elegantly and intelligently.

    This is one of those books like Shock Doctrine or Democracy in Chains that has reshaped and deeply clarified my understanding of current events.

  • Vikas Erraballi

    I’m so concerned about this I post my entire reading list on goodreads

  • Denise

    I went into this book expecting a quick read, but this isn't that type of book. It starts off with a lengthy history of the internet, beginning at its very infancy as a tool to help census counters collect and sort information, all the way up to the present day. This background was necessary to lay the foundation for the rest of the book, but while interesting, it could be a bit dense at times.

    Surveillance Valley picks up speed about halfway through, when the author behind detailing how basicall

    I went into this book expecting a quick read, but this isn't that type of book. It starts off with a lengthy history of the internet, beginning at its very infancy as a tool to help census counters collect and sort information, all the way up to the present day. This background was necessary to lay the foundation for the rest of the book, but while interesting, it could be a bit dense at times.

    Surveillance Valley picks up speed about halfway through, when the author behind detailing how basically all the big names -Google, etc- are in bed with the government and in fact being paid by them to spy on us. The most shocking part to me was learning that Tor was basically funded and created more or less by the government and not by anti government hackers as I've always been led to believe. Oh - and it's not secure in the slightest.

    This is a scary read that will have you thinking twice about the internet, technology, and everything you do on your phone or computer.

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

  • Janet

    Wow, Surveillance Valley is one of those books I had to read and digest a little at a time. Yasha Levine has certainly piqued my interest and the desire to read more about the subject. I wished that I had a reading buddy to discuss and debate the information contained in this book. It would be an excellent selection for a book discussion group, simply based on my own wishes. The book is organized well and the references are explained in a conversational manner. My paranoia has definitely been tr

    Wow, Surveillance Valley is one of those books I had to read and digest a little at a time. Yasha Levine has certainly piqued my interest and the desire to read more about the subject. I wished that I had a reading buddy to discuss and debate the information contained in this book. It would be an excellent selection for a book discussion group, simply based on my own wishes. The book is organized well and the references are explained in a conversational manner. My paranoia has definitely been triggered by this riveting book.

  • Ralph Cooper

    Interested in the timeline of the Internet development. Good review of key milestones and some of the players I'd not known about.

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