Thursday, September 1, 2011

The 5 Most Evil Things Tech Companies Helped Happen

If oppressive regimes want to stay oppressive, they need to fear—and wield—technology like a sword covered in napalm. And in most cases, they can’t do that without using outside help. Here are the five worst corporate collaborators in technology.

IBM & The Holocaust
You really cannot get much worse than helping the Nazis perpetrate the Holocaust. You just can’t. And yet, the company that used to make our laptops and now entertains us on Jeopardy helped create the most rationalized, methodically-perfected means of genocide in human history. As author Edwin Black explains in his exhaustive “IBM and the Holocaust,” the computer firm’s services were perfectly suited for the machinations of the Third Reich. The Nazis wanted to perfect human murdering. To turn it into a science. Genocide was to be flawless, smooth, and predictable. Sort of like a computer:
“The only way to eliminate any mistakes,” [Nazi scientist Dr. Karl] Keller insisted, “is the registration of the entire population. How is this to be done?” Keller demanded “the establishment of mandatory personal genetic-biographical forms…Nothing would hinder us,” he assured, “from using these forms to enter any important information which can be used by race scientists.”
For this, Germany needed computers. IBM made great computers—and they were sold to Hitler, straight from the New York office. IBM’s custom made punchcard computers were specially designed for the Third Reich, and Nazi computer scientists were personally trained by IBM engineers. The statistical might of these machines were able to facilitate the chilling ease with which the Holocaust was executed.

Nokia Siemens & Torture in Bahrain
Authoritarian regimes don’t usually need much evidence before torturing citizens within an inch of their lives. But in Bahrain, government torture squads use intercepted phone, text, and internet transcripts as sufficient reason to devilishly torment its people into submission (or worse). And how do they do it? With equipment sold to them by Nokia Siemens. As in, the same companies that sell phones and electrical equipment. The systems provided by Nokia Siemens are hardwired into Bahrain’s communications infrastructure—inescapable eyes and ears. This listening and whispering menace is also the reason Bahrain hasn’t joined in with other Middle Eastern nations in overthrowing—or at least rallying against—their harsh governments. It’s hard to organize change when you’ve got an omniscient torture goon standing over your shoulder.              More