The story of how the Electronic Frontiers Foundation became so EFF’d up

EFF has taken millions in funds from Google and Facebook via straight donations and controversial court payouts that many see as under-the-radar contributions. Hell, Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s foundation gave EFF at least $1.2 million.

But the reason for EFF’s silence on the Facebook surveillance and influence scandal goes deeper—into the business model of the internet itself, which from the outset has framed user privacy as being threatened by ever-imminent government censorship, as opposed to the protection of users and their data from wanton commercial intrusion and exploitation. Put simply, the lords of the internet care very little about user privacy—what they want to preserve, at the end of the day, is their own commercial license against the specter of government regulation of any kind.

All watched over by machines, Surveillance Valley

Google building military drones, Facebook watching us all, and Amazon making facial recognition software for the police, need to be understood not as aberrations. Rather, they are business as usual.

Much of the early history of computers, is rooted in systems developed to meet military and intelligence needs during WWII – but the Cold War provided plenty of impetus for further military reliance on increasingly complex computing systems. And as fears of nuclear war took hold, computer systems (such as SAGE) were developed to surveil the nation and provide military officials with a steady flow of information. Along with the advancements in computing came the dispersion of cybernetic thinking which treated humans as information processing machines, not unlike computers, and helped advance a worldview wherein, given enough data, computers could make sense of the world.