Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

SURVEILLANCE VALLEY: The Secret Military History of the Internet

SURVEILLANCE VALLEY: The Secret Military History of the Internet
07 Feb
2019
by Yasha Levine • Icon Books • £14.99 (paperback)

You are being watched. That’s the message investigative journalist Yasha Levine wants to convey. And, as he is about to demonstrate, you really shouldn’t be surprised. 

By taking us on a history lesson of the internet and the people responsible for its creation, from its genesis during the Vietnam War via a military body called ARPA, to the use of the ARPANET by the US state in the 1960s and 70s to share data on political protestors and civil rights campaigners, Levine reveals that the internet was developed by the military, for military purposes. Surveillance, he says, was ‘baked in from the very beginning’.

This ‘secret military history’ seems to have been forgotten. In part two, Levine shifts to the 1990s, a time when PCs became common and seminal magazines such as Wired lauded the start of a new age. He examines how and why the internet was privatised and starts on the big tech companies, with a heavy focus on what he calls ‘Google’s surveillance business model’. Swiftly dismissing Google’s PR machine, which would have it seen as a geeky force for good, he examines its role as a government contractor and the fact that it, and other internet giants, provide a large range of services to the US military.

The final section is a work of pure investigative journalism and a story with a personal touch (Levine has been hounded by internet trolls for his work). In it, he plunges into the ‘dark web’ and Tor, the anonymisation system used to access it, revealing that this company, celebrated as a win for privacy against the snooping state, was actually developed and funded by the US government.

Surveillance Valley is a thorough telling of the internet story, though limited in scope by its focus on the US alone. While it is not a comforting or a light read, it is one that feels necessary in the current age. Though Levine attempts a hopeful ending, it is his insistence that ‘there is no escape’ that lingers longest, as he no doubt intended. 

Click here to purchase Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine from Amazon

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

by Caroline Crampton • Granta Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Alastair Humphreys • Harper Collins • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Ben Aitken • Icon Books • £12.99 (paperback)

Books

by Edward O Wilson • Allen Lane • £17.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Eimer • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Jubber • John Murray Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Rob Dunn • Basic Books • £22.99 (hardback)

Books

by Edward Davey • Unbound • £9.99 (paperback)

Exhibitions

From July 2019 to February 2020, the Oxford University Natural…

Books

by Stephen Smith • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Barrie • Hodder & Stoughton • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Juliet Blaxland • Sandstone Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Bill McKibben • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Exhibitions

A new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery flies forward 100…

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…