The corporate cash behind the surveillance state

bigbrotherThe high technology and Silicon Valley companies that supported President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign are also deeply involved with the National Security Agency and other surveillance programs.

Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, after analyzing campaign finance reports from 2012, concluded that although Mitt Romney received more contributions from big business overall, Barack Obama received equal or stronger support than Romney from the telecommunications, software, web manufacturing, electronics, computer and defense industries.

They pointed out in an article for AlterNet that these industries supply the technology that makes possible the NSA’s total surveillance programs, and provide many suppliers and subcontractors that operate the system.  And, as Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden disclosed, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon and Facebook worked directly with the NSA to spy on the American and foreign public at large.

At the time President Obama took office, many of his supporters expected a radical change in course on national security policy. This did not happen.  For sure, limitations on some of the worst excesses were put in place, but there was no broad reversal.  The secret programs of surveillance expanded and … other policies … on indefinite detention, treatment of whistleblowers, and executive prerogatives relative to Congress stayed in place or broke even more radically with tradition.

Our analysis of political money in the 2012 election shines a powerful new light on the sources of this policy continuity.  We do not believe that it would be impossible to strike a reasonable balance between the demands of security and freedom that accords with traditional Fourth Amendment principles and checks abuses of government surveillance rapidly and effectively.  But a system dominated by firms that want to sell all your data working with a government that seems to want to collect nearly all of it through them is unlikely to produce that.

I thought that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs supported President Obama out of social liberalism or because they thought he was more modern in his thinking than John McCain or Mitt Romney.  Maybe they do.  But there is also this three-way relationship—the NSA funds high tech industry, high tech industry funds President Obama’s campaign, and President Obama supports the NSA.

Click on Who Buys the Spies for the complete article by Ferguson, Jorgenson and Chen on AlterNet.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: