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Friday, June 12, 2015

Julian Assange: 'Western Civilization Has Produced a God, the God of Mass Surveillance'

Seung-yoon Lee, CEO and Co-founder of Byline, recently conducted an exclusive three-hour interview with Julian Assange in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. The interview will be serialized in three parts over the next month.
In part one, Assange talks about how we now live in surveillance society, if Facebook and Google are spying on us and how on earth WikiLeaks out-smarted the United States to rescue Edward Snowden from Hong Kong. 

Seung-Yoon Lee (SY): You recently wrote in the New York Times that "not only do we live in a surveillance state but in a surveillance society." Can you explain what you mean by this?
JA: We've increasingly become accepting of the surveillance that exists at all levels of society. It's hard to escape from that in any traditional way. But I think there are ways to escape. On one hand, we are taking into ourselves the notion that there should be various form of surveillance of individuals -- that we can be surveilled. At the level of national security, this is still fresh. Other national intelligence agencies engage in bulk Internet monitoring. But over time, there will arise an acceptance that this is simply how society is -- as has already arisen with other forms of surveillance. At that point, society develops a type of self-censorship, with the knowledge that surveillance exists -- a self-censorship that is even expressed when people communicate with each other privately. There are examples of this in history, when everyone believes that the person they are talking to is not trustworthy or the communications medium is not trustworthy. That was the situation in East Germany, not because of mass electronics surveillance, but because up to 10 percent of people were at some stage of their lives informants for the state. A double language evolved where no one was saying what they really meant. And conformity was produced because of this low-level fear.