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This episode features journalist and writer Yasha Levine discussing some of the topics covered in his forthcoming book, Surveillance Valley. Yasha argues that the biggest threat to our privacy comes not directly from the government, but via the ubiquitous corporate platforms we all use every day – including Google, Facebook, eBay and others – and the ‘data brokers’ that buy and sell the most intimate information about our lives.

Decentralisation, one of the big themes of this show, was supposed to make all our lives better – improving freedoms to express ourselves, to communicate and to organise. But Yasha argues that decentralisation never really happened, and that in fact, new incumbents have moved onto the free, open net and taken control. Bitcoin and Tor, says Yasha, aren’t actually liberatory technologies, but conceal sophisticated operators, pulling strings behind the scenes. And in fact, he presents a compelling case that some of the tools we’ve been relying on to protect our privacy may actually be working to the specific agenda of the U.S Government’s spy services.

Yasha recommends the following to explore the topics discussed in this show:

From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner
IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black
The Pentagon’s Brain by Annie Jacobsen

Part Two of United States of Secrets, PBS
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace by Adam Curtis

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Riley Byrne
Original Music David Triana | Web Production Siraje Amarniss

Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access & Premiumize

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch.

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  • Eric Barch

    Really interesting discussion, as usual!

    That being said, I do feel a few points are worth clarifying:

    1. It was stated in the episode that the US government is the sole supporter of the Tor project. Although it’s high (over 90%), it comes from many different departments and individual donors/organizations do provide the rest of the support. Obviously the minority, but it’s not nothing. [1]

    2. It was mentioned that entry Tor nodes know where you are making a request to. That’s not really accurate. A request is first encrypted with the EXIT node’s public key. That data is then encrypted with the middle node’s public key. Finally that data blob is encrypted with the entry node’s public key. Hence the onion metaphor. [2]

    3. Tor does not have hard coded DNS servers. The exit node is used to relay DNS traffic. [3]

    [1] http://www.whoishostingthis.com/blog/2014/11/17/who-funded-tor/
    [2] https://youtu.be/LAcGiLL4OZU?t=7m12s
    [3] http://tor.stackexchange.com/a/26