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Tag: Assange

McLuhan’s prediction of World War III was spot on

Saturday, 30 June, 2018

1970. What a year: The Beatles released their 12th and final album, Let It Be; Brazil defeated Italy 4–1 to win the World Cup in Mexico; Soviet author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature; Hafez al-Assad seized power in Syria; Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died; Ted Cruz and Rachel Weisz were born, and the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was topped out at 1,368 feet (417 metres), making it the tallest building in the world.

And Marshall McLuhan’s Culture Is Our Business was published in 1970. Due to the adventurous layout of the book, this collection of quotes and ideas met with mixed reviews and it has dated considerably since publication, but the gems still shine:

“Privacy invasion is now one of biggest knowledge industries.” (page 24)

“World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” (page 88)

Who, in 1970, anticipated the business models of Facebook and Google? Who in 1970 would have imagined a world of data thieves like Snowden, disinformation channels like Russia Today, charlatans like Assange, battlefields like Twitter and the cyberspace battlegrounds of World War III…? Only one person did and he was Marshall McLuhan. The Canadian philosopher, professor of English literature, cultural critic and communications theorist coined the expression “the medium is the message” and his work is rightly regarded as a cornerstone of media theory study.

Culture Is Our Business


Assange, Snowden and Putin walk into a bar

Thursday, 9 March, 2017 3 Comments

First thing: Assange and Snowden and working with Putin. Second thing: Don’t believe what you read in the papers, especially regarding the WikiLeaks claims that the CIA can intercept encrypted WhatsApp and Signal messages. It can’t. If you have a secure device, then WhatsApp and Signal are secure. If your device is insecure, nothing is secure. As Robert Graham of Errata Security puts it:

The CIA didn’t remotely hack a TV. The docs are clear that they can update the software running on the TV using a USB drive. There’s no evidence of them doing so remotely over the Internet. If you aren’t afraid of the CIA breaking in an installing a listening device, then you should’t be afraid of the CIA installing listening software.

The CIA didn’t defeat Signal/WhatsApp encryption. The CIA has some exploits for Android/iPhone. If they can get on your phone, then of course they can record audio and screenshots. Technically, this bypasses/defeats encryption — but such phrases used by Wikileaks are highly misleading, since nothing related to Signal/WhatsApp is happening. What’s happening is the CIA is bypassing/defeating the phone. Sometimes. If they’ve got an exploit for it, or can trick you into installing their software.

Bottom line: Assange and Snowden are Russian agents. Bonus joke: Snowden and Putin and a dog walk into a bar in Moscow:

“Ow!”
“Ow!”
“Woof!”


Erdogan channels Assange and Morozov

Tuesday, 4 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best example of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” As protests engulf Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is blaming social media for the unrest. His targeting of Twitter, which has become a hub for activists and a major news source as Turkey’s mainstream media have downplayed the crisis, will be watched with interest by Evgeny Morozov, who has made a profession out of his cynicism for the popular notion that the internet can be an agent of regime change. In the internet-inimical Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which hosts a regular Morozov column, the Belarus-born author argues that the net is, in fact, a tool for mass surveillance and political repression.

Echoing Morozov’s fears, the alleged-rapist, Julian Assange, took to the New York Times at the weekend and declared, “The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism.” The notorious fugitive from justice was reviewing Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s book, The New Digital Age. He continued: “But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in ‘repressive autocracies’ in ‘targeting their citizens,’ they also say governments in ‘open’ democracies will see it as ‘a gift’ enabling them to ‘better respond to citizen and customer concerns.’ In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the ‘good’ societies closer to the ‘bad’ ones.”

When the dictatorial Erdoğan, the seedy Assange and the skeptical Morozov are on the same page, it’s time to count our digital spoons.

Twitter Istanbul


Prodding a man-shaped Assange bag with a pitchfork

Thursday, 23 August, 2012

After nearly three decades in the UK’s Diplomatic Service, Charles Crawford retired from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at the end of 2007. So, when it comes to matters consular and tactful, he knows the score. In his blog post, “Diplomatic Bags (Assange)“, Crawford points out that, “… if a man-shaped diplomatic bag is seen […]

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Libyan embassy 1984, Ecuadorian embassy 2012

Thursday, 16 August, 2012

The standoff between the governments of Great Britain and Ecuador because the latter has allowed its embassy to be used as a hideout for the alleged sex offender Julian Assange brings back memories of another London embassy drama, one which resulted in the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher. And the murderer got away with it, […]

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