Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Origins Of Facebook & Google 1

Is there any connection between Facebook, Google and the National Security Agencies of the United States?
Read In New Wide Format

This post is based on a video that was uploaded and that has become somewhat viral amont certain groups.  We will embed it here now.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link:

The question we will deal is whether there is any truth to Facebook's and Google's connection to DARPA and whether those who serve on the board of directors of these companies have any connection to military/security agencies of the United States.  There are a wide spectrum of views on this subject.  They can range from these companies being nothing but puppets for security agencies to that there are some connections between them and those agencies.

The Interlocking Directorate
An interlocking directorate is the"...linkage among corporations created by individuals who sit on two or more corporate boards."  Nowadays, there are two types of networks.  G. William Domhoff, research professor of Sociology and Psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz and well known expert on interlocking directories, explains:
Today corporate interlocks are analyzed with bigger databases and sophisticated network programs, thanks to desktop computers. The databases are large matrices that contain information on the linkages between persons and groups. Either a corporate/organizational network, based on common directors, or an interpersonal/social network, based on shared board memberships, can be derived from these matrices. That is, the matrices contain a "duality of persons and groups" (Breiger, 1974). This is worth mentioning because this essay will discuss both "corporate networks," that is, the linkages among corporations created by interlocking directorates, and "social networks," that is, the linkages among people by virtue of the fact that they sit on the same corporate board.
Grant the NSA what it wants, and within 10 years the United States will be vulnerable to attacks from hackers across the globe, as well as the militaries of China, Russia and other nations. Susan Landau, Sun Microsystems
According to Domhoff, interlocking directorates serve different purposes than they once did.  He views them today as serving "...the incidental by-product of recruiting a diverse and experienced group of individuals who have a variety of skills and connections to bring to the table."   That there has been a concentration of power however, in earlier times in America cannot be denied.  For example, by 1845, 80 men known as the "Boston Associates" controlled 31 textile companies that accounted to 20% of the entire American textile industry.  Domhoff goes on to point out,
Seventeen of these men served as directors of Boston banks that owned 40 percent of the city's banking capital, 20 were directors of six insurance companies, and 11 sat on the boards of five railroad companies (Dalzell, 1987). It is very likely that these interlocks were used to coordinate the operations of these corporations and to look out for the overall interests of the general ownership group.
But according to Domhoff and others, this kind of corporate control died out in the early 1990s.  So, it is not clear to us that there is a formal connection between corporations any longer through these directorates.  Rather, it is our opinion that there is an informal Who Knows Who between many prominent business executives which, whether intended or not, seems to facilitate an informal consensus between them.  Domhoff somewhat concurs when he states,
The "small world" of the corporate community is created by a combination of the interpersonal ties and expertise of the people who already sit on one or more boards. This generates a community of directors who are not sitting on two or more boards for the purpose of cementing ties between the companies, i.e., with what is called "strategic intent" in the quote that follows, but because they have experience with the kinds of issues that boards face.
But, perhaps our views in this are better reflected by the following statement by, an encyclopedia of American Business with contributions by many university professors.
Any situation in which a director sits on the board of two or more companies simultaneously creates an interlocking directorate. While interlocking directorates are most associated with Japanese business, they are a powerful force in U.S. business practices. Individuals serving on more than one BOARD OF DIRECTORS provide an informal means of communication and facilitate the building of business relationships. The old saying “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts” summarizes the benefits of interlocking directorates. Depending on how information and influence is used, interlocking directorates can aid small companies attempting to build strategic relationships or assist large companies in finding new sources of ideas, talents, or products.
The most famous recent example of this, in a negative slant, dealt with Apple's iPhone and the later arrival of the Google Android phone.  Mashable, quoting Steve Jobs biography, states,
In the book, Jobs accuses Google of "grand theft" with Android - the Apple co-founder believed that the search giant's leadership "personally betrayed" him by stealing concepts like the app screen and multitouch.  Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (who sat on Apple's board of directors until August 2009) had inside information on the iPhone, while co-founders Page and Brin looked to Jobs for mentorship.
Although it is illegal to have an interlocking directorate according to section 8 of the Clayton Act, this law is seldom enforced.

Facebook and The Security Establishment
If one searches the phrase Facebook and the CIA there will be a host of links.  We list some of them:

Many of these articles repeat what the video posted at the beginning of this article documents with little additional information.  Some of them go into total speculative issues which are difficult to prove.  We will come back to them later.  If wikileaks founder Assange can be believed, Facebook is handing over information to security agencies all the time.  In a 2011 interview Assange stated,
Facebook, in particular, is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena – they have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.
This "interface" that Assange refers to sounds like a "backdoor" infrastructural addition to the internet connection.  The question is, is there a special interface that government security agencies have that allow them to almost instantly eavesdrop on email, text messages and phone calls?  The answer seems to be yes.

One example seems to be that of Sprint from 2008-2009.  Sprint according to a report supplied the law enforcement with GPS locations of individuals over 8,000,000 time in one year.  The number staggers the imagination.  That would mean about 21,917 location requests a day for one year.  That is 913 requests an hour and 15 requests a minute.  According to this report these requests were done through "...a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers."  A wired magazine article in quoted a Sprint official as saying,
We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests,” Taylor is heard saying. “So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy.
The article is clear to explain that law enforcement still needs a court order to be to do this.

Some have pointed out that this "backdoor" open the network to hackers.  There have been two well publicized cases were this happened.  The two victims were Google and the Prime Minister of Greece.  Hacking of Google's GMAIL system occurred in 2010, supposedly by the Chinese.  These hackers were able to enter Google's system through the very portals used by law enforcement.
...apparently were able to access a system used to help Google comply with search warrants by providing data on Google users, said a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press. "Right before Christmas, it was, 'Holy s***, this malware is accessing the internal intercept [systems],'" he said.
In a now well know oped in the Washington Post, Susan Landau from Sun Microsystems, titled, A Gateway for Hackers, she stated,
U.S. communications technology is fragile and easily penetrated. While advanced, it is not decades ahead of that of our friends or our rivals. Compounding the issue is a key facet of modern systems design: Intercept capabilities are likely to be managed remotely, and vulnerabilities are as likely to be global as local. In simplifying wiretapping for U.S. intelligence, we provide a target for foreign intelligence agencies and possibly rogue hackers. Break into one service, and you get broad access to U.S. communications.
In 2005, the Prime Minister of Greece as well as over 100 other individuals in the Greek government including an employee of the U.S. embassy were informed that their phone calls had been intercepted.  According to a report of the the American Civil Liberties Union, this occurred when, " put in place to enable wiretapping was hacked by still-unknown parties..."

We will continue with this series in our next installment.

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