P.L.: Yes, I mean people are alert to that and you made a really good point about the internet and it sort of opening people's minds to this thing. The internet is a tricky thing because it's a tool that allows us to collaborate with other people as equals but it is also a very powerful surveillance tool and it can be used to impose order in a Top Down manner and so the issue right now is that the internet is kind of a battle ground.
It's a battle ground between individuals that are looking for cooperative behavior in working together in an open manner, and individuals who are somewhat vested in maintaining a Top Down power structure. It's a problem because the people with the power, in effect, to some extent control the levers of the internet. That is, the NSA seems to be able to suck down everything that's on the internet at the moment and so that is tricky. It's a double edged sword with the internet at this point.
R.K.: Now you just said that the internet can be used to impose order in a Top-Down manner. Can you get in to that a little bit more?
P.L.: Well I think as a surveillance tool that's one of the key ways it can operate. So if the government is in a position, thanks to the internet where it's in, basically intercept and eavesdrop on all of our communications if it wants to, that puts us in a precarious position but it's worse than that. After the sort of NSA leak came out from Snowden everyone was saying things like, oh that's just meta data we're talking about. But of course, meta data is the most dangerous thing of all to give up as it were because -
R.K.: Why is that? Why is meta data the most dangerous thing to give up?
P.L.: Because what it does is show who your contacts are and it shows your network of connections so what it does, it allows the state to know who the central communications nodes are in any sort of protest group so for example, let's just speak hypothetically here, suppose you had a protest group or a bunch of protest groups that were concerned about fracking.
The meta data would immediately tell you who is connected with those groups and it would be able to tell you who the central nodes of communications are. It would make it easier to decapitate or neutralize the central nodes of the network so think of it in terms of like air traffic control, I mean we know how there are many, many airports in the country but there is just a hand-full of hubs right? And if you could identify the hubs and neutralize them, then basically you would bring air transportation to a halt. And -
R.K.: It seems to me that what you're saying, it's got me thinking -
R.K.: I'm involved in some activism and there are certain people who are more active, who are more leaders -
R.K.: And it would seem to me, I hadn't really thought about it but what you're saying is this meta data makes it real easy to identify the people who are sending out the emails, who are interacting with everybody and it would be so easy and maybe not even illegal for different agencies to just screw up the email so their stuff doesn't get out or they don't get stuff. I mean -
P.L.: Oh I see
R.K.: The vulnerability is not just in identifying the person and taking them out, literally just disrupting communications, which is the first step in a war, usually.
P.L.: I think, hypothetically that's possible, I mean I don't know of cases where this has been done but -
R.K.: It's a good FOIA question.