The primary goals of the internet have always been surveillance and control. Today, it is merely following its original design.
Internet (originally ARPANET) was born out of a Pentagon surveillance and counterinsurgency project. It was implemented by ARPA, a US Department of Defence research agency that we know as DARPA.
The effort to change the public perception of the internet from a military surveillance project to a promised utopian land of opportunity took about twenty years and a lot of work – and it worked like a charm – but surveillance has always remained at the centre of what the internet is about.
World Wide Web: Whom Was It Designed to Catch?
The Birth of the Internet
Personally, I am a big fan of Yasha Levine’s book, “Surveillance Valley,” even though later on, our views on covid did not coincide. Yasha’s book describes the counterinsurgency and surveillance underbelly of the internet really well.
The Internet came out of a 1960s Pentagon project called ARPANET. ARPANET was a counterinsurgency, communications, and surveillance project developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (“ARPA”) and based on the idea of “Great Intergalactic Network,” a futuristic-sounding term coined by J. C. R. Licklider, nicknamed “Lick.” Lick was an American psychologist and computer scientist and one of the “founding fathers” of interactive computing.
How It All Started
We all know ARPA as DARPA, the creepy Department of Defence (“DoD”) agency behind the Operation Warp Speed. ARPA was originally formed in response to the shock of being “beaten” by the USSR in space after the USSR launched its Sputnik in 1957.
The agency was intended to protect the United States from the Soviet nuclear threat from space. It was designed as a lean Pentagon agency that would be almost like a management company, overseeing advanced military research projects but contracting a lot of their work out to private companies.
In the words of Ray Alderman:
In February 1958, reacting to the Russian lead in space technology, Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) inside the Department of Defence (DoD). The original mission was to stay ahead of our enemies and prevent future technological surprises like Sputnik.
ARPA’s initial focus was on missiles. Later in 1958, the money for missiles and space programs was transferred to another new agency, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). ARPA then changed their mission to long-range advanced military problems like the Defender missile defence programme, early warning radar, and satellite detection of nuclear tests by the Russians.”
ARPA was part of the Pentagon, a bureaucratic rats nest of inter-service rivalries and politics. The Air Force was broken-off from the Army and the CIA were created in September 1947, NSA was created in November 1952, and NASA was created in 1958. ARPA worked on projects for all these groups but was stuck inside the Pentagon.
In 1972, it was renamed DARPA, changed back to ARPA in 1993, and then back to DARPA again in 1996 … The director of DARPA reports to the Secretary of Defense just like the military services.
ARPA was formed under Defence Secretary Neil McElroy, who was thrust into his important government role straight out of his prior role of the President of Proctor & Gamble, a role in which he pioneered the format of “soap operas,” melodramatic television series designed with the primary goal of selling household products to housewives.