Surveillance Valley

The Secret Military History of the Internet
Narrated by: LJ Ganser
Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (90 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.

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.

©2018 Yasha Levine (P)2018 Audible, Inc.
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Profound look at the internet and surveillance

What an in-depth look at surveillance. This book starts off fascinating and interesting, and it never lets up. LJ Ganser I think is a good narrator for this novel as well. This is one of the best investigative books that looks into surveillance by use of the internet. It also touches on how it has affected the lives of everyday people, especially in and around Silicon Valley.

This was such an intriguing book! I would highly recommend it. Great listen and fantastic novel!

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Great story backed 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.

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Reader beware

This is a very decent book overall, the history provided covers the foundation of ARPA its intersection with MK ultra and the early history of the surveillance state especially jives very well with other material on these topics the more curious reader may have encountered. The overall history of the surveillance state is quite well laid out though with a pronounced anti-libertarian bent and while the treatment of such individuals as Edward Snowden seems fair in its skepticism towards this possible hacker sainthood its treatment of Julian massage and others in the cyberpunk movement are over fallacious at best and point to a hidden agenda nothing illustrates this more then the author's treatment of Ross Ulbricht in which mr. Levine casually inserts the murder charges that were used to sentence Ulbricht to Two Life terms plus 40 years charges that were never actually brought up at trial and likely were the invention of the Secret Service men and DEA agent that are now currently in prison for Grand theft while in the prosecution of Ulbricht case. It is only coincidence that I am aware of the Ross Ulbricht story and that knowledge leads me to believe there is a greater portion of this book that seeks to mislead the public in other matters that I am not yet cognizant of, that's said this is an informative book and for the novice witch would include myself it insights a desire for more research into these matters.

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Thank you, Yasha! Do read this book.

I’d been following Yasha Levine’s reporting for some 10 years now. Sometimes it seemed like he was too harsh on people and organizations he was reporting about. But in this book, he had a chance to put out a solid reporting, backing his points in a fascinating and an in-depth story that, while still pertains Yasha’s idealistic character, give the reader a clear picture of connections and records to form our own opinion.

I’d like to thank Yasha for this book. It must have felt like an unpopular topic. Yet it is a very important reminder of how things are.

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Stirring, but disturbing.

Very insightful, while I thought I understood the history of the Internet - I didn't fully. The true history of it's creation and how it was (is) created from military programs is stirring, but ultimately disturbing. Everyone loves to read about secret military technology and programs, but when you begin to merge big technology companies and the Federal government one should be concerned.

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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.

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  • Mr. M. J. Yeomans
  • 06-02-19

Pedestrian history of computers by US military

A really rather bland biopic of the development and use of computers by the US military and intelligence services particularly centred on DARPA. Not massively overt, the narrative is clearly hostile to this military-technological intertwining and doesn't consider the many benefits that have come thanks to the development of computers, that military investment has been key to creating. There have of course been many awful things that occurred in the Cold War and big private firms have done some very shady things as part of that, but this book neither properly analyses those issues, nor provides a wider contextual history of DARPA, technology's development through the battlefield, and big power politics of the Cold War era. While the conclusion nicely points out some of these issues, it is still perhaps under noted the considerable scrutiny with which regulators globally (the US less so than in the EU and national level elsewhere) have addressed Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others, not to mention public backlash to certain issues. Understanding the power of technology and the need to make it work for good is something true throughout history and that isn't really properly understood here and that's a real pity.

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  • I. VICKERS
  • 10-12-18

Scary Stuff

Quite an eye opener on the insecurity of 'secure' methods of Internet communications. Interesting history of Internet development and of the characters involved. Would recommend this book to anyone who has even a passing interest in Internet freedom and anonymity.

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  • Robert Barwick
  • 09-03-18

Stunning - out-Snowdens Snowden!

This book is the ultimate eye-opener, about the ubiquitous network infrastructure that controls the world.