Digital Deformation

satellite dish

Guest Post by Steven Miller and Satish Musunuru, September 1, 2013

 (Part 1 of a five-part series about the corporatization of Internet surveillance)

The executive branch has now confirmed that the ‘rules, regulations and court-imposed standards for protecting the privacy of Americans’ have been violated thousands of times each year.  We have previously said that the violations of these laws and rules were more serious than had been acknowledged, and we believe Americans should know that this confirmation is just the tip of a larger iceberg.”  US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall  (1)

The Surveillance State is the inevitable development of a corporate-controlled Internet. Today some 70% of the NSA budget goes to corporations, which routinely implement computer programs that are hidden from the public as “proprietary information.” It’s not much of a jump from privatized and hidden corporate systems to privatized and hidden state surveillance systems.

In this respect, Oakland, California is being transmogrified rapidly. Oakland is the country’s 4th largest port, is the port for Silicon Valley, and the site of the Port Shutdown by Occupy in November 2011. The city is spending $2 million to collaborate with the Port and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly kicking in more millions to develop a “Domain Awareness Center”. This center will centralize all video feeds from Port property, including Jack London Square, the Bay Bridge, the Port, the Oakland Coliseum the airport and Wal Mart.

The DAC is poised to extend into the city, through the city’s notorious police department, the highway patrol and the BART police, and intends to seize the video feeds from the high schools. There is a vicious irony here. Oakland’s Port is legally separated from the city. For decades, people have begged the Port to use some of their $100 billion-a-year revenue to help out the city’s impoverished schools. They have never given a penny, but now they take and privatize. All this video data will be collected by a private corporation that has a record of fraud, secrecy and kickbacks – SAIC, the Science Applications International Corporation. (2) Does this make any sense for democracy?

Mussolini is famously quoted as saying that fascism is the merger of corporations and the state. We always knew that corporations are in bed with the government. In fact, the US openly brags about the system of legalized bribery called Lobbying.

But how did corporations accrue the police powers of the state? One question, then, is… did corporations create the Surveillance State, or did the Surveillance State open the door for the corporations? Which is in control here?

Background and Notes

1)  Wyden, Udall. Statement on Reports of Compliance Violations Made Under NSA Collection Programs, Friday, August 16, 2013

 2) Bond-Graham, Winston. “Oakland’s Surveillance Contractor Has a History of Fraud.”, August 28, 2013

To be continued.

Originally posted at Daily Censored

photo credit: weaverphoto via photopin cc

Steven Miller has taught science for 25 years in Oakland’s Flatland high schools. He has been actively engaged in public school reform since the early 1990s. When the state seized control of Oakland public schools in 2003, they immediately implemented policies of corporatization and privatization that are advocated by the Broad Institute. Since that time Steve has written extensively against the privatization of public education, water, and other public resources. You can email him at


Satish Musunuru draws upon his training as an engineer and his experience as a professional in Silicon Valley to understand the relationship between technology and corporate capitalism and how it has brought us to the ecological and societal crisis we find ourselves in. You can email him at

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