The Perfect Citizen program markets the idea of corporations and government working together in a joint effort to thwart Cyberterrorism. This is truly a message designed to be spread far and wide, as corporations can sell infrastructure upgrades to terrified American citizens who once again are being required to trade liberty for supposed security. Taxpayers already have provided billions to the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative as funding for their own cyberprison. Both political parties have supported the campaign of perpetual National Security, and the new program is yet another example of how they agree upon initiatives that will ultimately benefit corporate interests:
The classified program is now being expanded with funding from the multibillion-dollar Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which started at the end of the Bush administration and has been continued by the Obama administration, officials said.
Like any good viral campaign, the goal is to issue a message that will increase sales through brand awareness. At the tip of the spear to implement the directive is the National Security Agency, which the WSJ article attempts to sell as, "the government's eavesdropping agency . . . and the only agency equipped to manage electronic assessments of critical-infrastructure vulnerabilities." The first part is true; the NSA, as a matter of record, is an eavesdropping agency that was established in 1952 by Harry Truman to "protect U.S. information systems and produce foreign intelligence." However, the reality is that the agency has been turned inward to spy on American citizens since at least 2001 with the assistance of corporations such as AT&T. Increasingly, they have become specific in their endeavors: in 2004 they were exposed for spying on a Quaker-linked peace group. The spying has since been revealed as much more widespread than previously believed.
Citizens shouldn't worry, though, because The Wall Street Journal tells us that "a U.S. military official called the program long overdue and said any intrusion into privacy is no greater than what the public already endures from traffic cameras." Until one remembers that The NSA was found to be tracking the Internet surfing habits of visitors to their own Web site by using cookies that don't expire until 2035. Not to mention that most Americans are not happy about the increase in surveillance technology. Americans are not alone, either; it seems that traffic cameras have had a dual use tracking peaceful protesters in Britain, as well as monitoring their behavior.
Then there is Raytheon, the defense contractor behemoth that always seems to be well positioned for a National Security Directive. Raytheon has profited wildly from other government press releases like the War on Terror -- another attempt at creating a market for security. Raytheon is a Fortune 500 company with 80,000 employees who have worked hard to bring the world Bunker-Buster bombs, Tomahawk, and Patriot missiles. Now they have been granted access to cyberspace via, "a classified contract for the initial phase of the surveillance effort valued at up to $100 million." Can Americans really expect solutions to be provided when more money can be made from prolonging the problem than from solving it? Doubtful. The Wall Street Journal is quite honest when it says:
The information gathered by Perfect Citizen could also have applications beyond the critical infrastructure sector, officials said, serving as a data bank that would also help companies and agencies who call upon NSA for help with investigations of cyber attacks, as Google did when it sustained a major attack late last year.
There it is in plain view. Government will use any threat against safety -- perceived, contrived, or real -- to usurp control of both the infrastructure that Americans rightfully own as taxpayers, as well as the information that comes from it.
There is good news, though -- we have heard this all before. As any marketer worth their salt will say: overused viral campaigns eventually become toxic.