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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 enemy but using new information technology to understand their motives and anticipate their movements. This idea - using computers to spy on people and groups perceived as a threat, both at home and abroad - drove ARPA to develop the Internet in the 1960s and continues to be at the heart of the modern Internet we all know and use today. As Levine shows, surveillance wasn't something that suddenly appeared on the Internet; it was woven into the fabric of the technology.
But this isn't just a story about the NSA or other domestic programs run by the government. As the book spins forward in time, Levine examines the private surveillance business that powers tech-industry giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, revealing how these companies spy on their users for profit, all while doing double duty as military and intelligence contractors. Levine shows that the military and Silicon Valley are effectively inseparable: a military-digital complex that permeates everything connected to the Internet, even coopting and weaponizing the antigovernment privacy movement that sprang up in the wake of Edward Snowden.
With deep research, skilled storytelling, and provocative arguments, Surveillance Valley will change the way you think about the news - and the device on which you read it.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Drybones on 08-17-18
Great story ba ks with research.
I am now retired Army. When I finished engineering school and returned to the Army as an officer I was assigned to a unit that was bringing the TCP/IP to the Arpanet. The year was 1985 and the RFC for TCP/IP had just been published in 1983. So listening to this book was both historical (confirming what I knew) and educational (filling in lots of blanks). I really enjoyed every minute. And now this review will become part of Bug Data for all time.
By Nathan D. Backlund on 04-06-18
Essential, Well Documented, and Well Written.
If you could sum up Surveillance Valley in three words, what would they be?
Frightening, Fascinating, and Provocative.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Levine gives us great capsule descriptions of many of the Silicon Valley oligarchs and the writers who celebrate them. However, it was Jacob Applebaum who interested me the most. Such a flamboyant figure who on the one hand was working with Assange and Wikileaks, and on the other was promoting the US government funded TOR Project to the hilt, and getting paid to do so. Truly stranger than fiction.
Which scene was your favorite?
The entire book was fascinating but it is Levine's research into TOR, and its connection to the US military intelligence complex that is most riveting, and also deeply disturbing. Most disturbing is the willingness of so-called internet privacy groups and activists to see Silicon Valley and the US government as somehow at odds on this issue, and to believe that we can somehow code our way around the prying eyes of the CIA and NSA.
Any additional comments?
If you are thinking about getting this book you will not be disappointed. The writing and narration are great, and this is really essential information for anybody who spends time on the internet.