A Prehistory of the Cloud

1. The first part of my provisional definition, the system of networks, is technically what is known as a “network of networks”: there are multiple kinds of disparate networks, from fiber to wireless to copper, within it. The Internet was so named because it moved data between satellite, packet radio, and telephone networks (inter-networks). To take the example of video streaming, when the video moves from a computer network operated by, say, Netflix or Amazon, to a different network, the cellular network, this is a “network of networks.”

2. Businesses, in contrast, typically date the term’s introduction to 2006, when it was used by Google to describe a new business model. Finally, researchers often list the date as 1996: the MIT Technology Review finds a reference to a patent for “cloud computing,” an unrealized model, in 1996, while the research studio Metahaven incorrectly cites 1996 as the first use of the word “the cloud” as it refers to network design. See Antonio Regalado, “Who Coined ‘Cloud Computing?’” and Metahaven, “Captives of the Cloud, Part I.”

3. Lewis Fry Richardson’s Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (1922), as identified in Seb Franklin, “Cloud Control, or the Network as Medium,” 452 – 453.

4. Perhaps the only other legacy of Picturephone, which has been discontinued and is now a relic, is the “pound” or “number” key (#) on the phone, pressed to differentiate Picturephone calls from voice calls. 5. As Allan Sekula writes, most cargo still takes the same amount of time to travel across the Pacific Ocean — eight to twelve days. Sekula, “Dismal Science, Part I,” 50.

Scholars Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey Pingree have suggested that a new medium engages in a period of “discursive conflict” with an older medium in order to define its uses for society. A medium is successful, they note, when we naturalize it and view it as completely transparent to our historical frame — when it seems to become “unmediated.” As a result, the cloud is simultaneously transparent — it feels completely natural — and opaque — it hides the things that are unnatural to us behind its user-friendly interface. Gitelman and Pingree, “Introduction,” xiv.

7. Scholars who think this way often base their argument on John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, Networks and Netwars, producing studies such as Samuel Weber, Targets of Opportunity, and Manuel Castells, The Power of Identity, which asks: “How can states fight networks?”

8. James Boyle, “Foucault in Cyberspace.”

9. This idea is forcefully voiced in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire: “The fundamental principle of Empire as we have described it throughout this book is that its power has no actual and localizable terrain or center. Imperial power is distributed in networks, through mobile and articulated mechanisms of control” (384). This extends a strain of thinking most typically exemplified by communications scholar Manuel Castells in The Rise of the Network Society, and by Yochai Benkler in The Wealth of Networks.

10. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 201.

11. This Deleuzian argument about control is most clearly laid out in books such as Alexander Galloway, Protocol, Wendy Chun, Control and Freedom, and Raiford Guins, Edited Clean Version, and embraced by scholars in more “traditional” disciplines, such as D. N. Rodowick, Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media.

12. Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” 4. For more on this shift, see Franklin, “The Limits of Control.”

13. Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” 7.

14. Most critiques of Deleuze’s historicity have centered on the relationship between disciplinary and control societies, perhaps because they are more obviously coterminous in time. Sovereignty receives rather less attention. In response to this common line of thought among technologists, Geert Lovink has commented that “Internet protocols are not ruling the world ... In the end, G. W. Bush is.” This rejoinder, sent by email to Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, is what opens their book The Exploit (1); they propose that sovereignty and networks may be related, most notably in examples such as Al Qaeda and the “swarm.” What differentiates our approaches is one of method: they focus on the technological mediation of wars, while my study, directed at its historical precedents, suggests that this mediation is largely a construct. Despite this disagreement, this book’s line of thinking is very much a response to Lovink (via Galloway and Thacker)’s challenge.

15. Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 143. As Judith Butler writes, political theorists Wendy Brown and Giorgio Agamben have productively “refuse[d] the chronological argument that would situate sovereignty prior to governmentality” (Butler, Precarious Life, 60).

16. Jean Baudrillard, Paul Virilio, and James Der Derian are perhaps the bestknown scholars of this school.

17. John Horvath, “Freeware Capitalism.”

18. David E. Sanger, “Mutually Assured Cyberdestruction?”

19. Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics.”

20. Davey Alba, “It’s Time to Fight for Your Digital Privacy.”

21. The term “medium specificity” comes from art history and generally refers to theories of Greenbergian modernism, though the idea ultimately dates back to ancient Greek philosophers, the Renaissance paragone between painting and sculpture, and Enlightenment texts such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Laocoon, or the Limits between Painting and Poetry (1766). The phrase has been reappropriated in places such as N. Katherine Hayles, “Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis,” and Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media, which (though Manovich does not use the term explicitly) attempts to map the specific attributes of new media through several organizing principles, such as the database. Numerous ever more specific subfields — such as “critical code studies” and “software studies” — have now internalized this method of study, to the point where it has become one of the dominant (if not the default) methods of analyzing new media. Thinking about the attempts by film scholars to define the “medium specific” properties of film from the 1890s to the 1930s — is film a (photo)play? is it an art? is it science? — one quickly understands the parallel impulse to find the “newness” of new media.

22. Such studies, particularly in English, are relatively rare. One recent exception is Anita Chan’s study of Peruvian digital culture; see Chan, Networking Peripheries.

23. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 3.

24. The term “tactical media,” originating in 1993, refers to a set of unconventional artistic practices organized around opposition, and often describes artist groups such as Critical Art Ensemble, Yes Men, Electronic Disturbance Theater, and eToy. Perhaps the clearest definition of the term comes from Rita Raley as “a mutable category” that revolves around “disturbance”; examples include “reverse engineering, hacktivism, denial-of-service attacks, the digital hijack,” and so forth (Raley, Tactical Media, 6).

25. This point is made most succinctly in David Joselit, Feedback. For more, see my discussion in chapter 1 on the Ant Farm collective.

26. Technological determinism has been embedded in the very foundation of “new media” studies, at least since Marshall McLuhan. Lev Manovich offers a typical example: “Today we are in the middle of a new media revolution — the shift of all culture to computer-mediated forms of production, distribution, and communication ... Mass media and data processing are complementary technologies; they appear together and develop side by side, making modern mass society possible” (Manovich, The Language of New Media, 19, 23). Wendy Chun offers an important corrective to the scholar’s assignation of too much power to technology: “Thus, in order to understand control-freedom, we need to insist on the failures and the actual operations of technology” (Chun, Control and Freedom, 9).

27. On walling off the commons, see James Boyle, “The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain.” On rhizome, see John E. Newhagen and Sheizaf Rafaeli, “Why Communication Researchers Should Study the Internet.”

28. Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture, 120.

29. Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms.

30. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor.

31. Ibid., 200.

32. Peter Lunenfeld, User.

Captives of the Cloud: Part 1

1. Wael Ghonim, cited in Rebecca MacKinnon, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom (New York City: Basic Books, 2012), xx.

2. Brandon Teddler, “To The Cloud!,” Ezine Mark, February 20, 2012.

3. Sharon Gillett and Mitchell Kapor, “The Self-governing Internet: Coordination by Design,” presented at Coordination and Administration of the Internet Workshop at Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Boston, MA, September 8–10, 1996.

4. John Markoff, “An Internet Critic Who Is Not Shy About Ruffling the Big Names in High,” New York Times, April 9, 2001.

5. Eric Schmidt, “Conversation with Eric Schmidt Hosted by Danny Sullivan,” Search Engine Strategies Conference, August 9, 2006.

6. “Amazon: The Walmart of the Web,” The Economist, October 1, 2011.

7. Nathan Eddy, “Cloud Computing to Drive Storage Growth: IDC Report,” eWeek, October 21, 2011.

8. Nick Bilton, “Data storage server, and founder, move quickly.” International Herald Tribune, August 28, 2012.

9. Barb Darrow, “Amazon Is No. 1. Who’s Next in Cloud Computing?,” GigaOM, March 14, 2012. Cade Metz, “Google: ‘We’re Like a Bank for Your Data,’” Wired, May 29, 2012.

10. Zack Whittaker, “Summary: ZDNet’s USA PATRIOT Act Series,” ZDNet, April 27, 2011.

11. Jeffrey Rosen, “Too Much Power,” New York Times, September 8, 2011.

12. Matthew C. Waxman, “Extending Patriot Act Powers,” interview by Jonathan Masters,, February 22, 2012.

13. Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights. From Medieval to Global Assemblages, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006 (2008), 180.

14. Paul Taylor, “Privacy Concerns Slow Cloud Adoption,” Financial Times, August 2, 2011.

15. Lucian Constantin, “Google Admits Handing over European User Data to US Intelligence Agencies,” Softpedia, August 8, 2011.

16. Winston Maxwell, and Christopher Wolf, “A Global Reality: Governmental Access to Data in the Cloud,” A Hogan Lovells White Paper, May 23, 2012.

17. Mike Masnick, “Senators Reveal That Feds Have Secretly Reinterpreted The PATRIOT Act,” Techdirt, May 26, 2011.

18. Kim Zetter, “Unknown Tech Company Defies FBI In Mystery Surveillance Case,” Wired, March 14, 2012.

19. Ryan Singel, “Egypt Shut Down Its Net With a Series of Phone Calls.” Wired, January 28, 2011.

20. Claire Connelly and Lee Taylor, “FBI Shuts down, Anonymous Shut down FBI,”, January 20, 2012.

21. Ibid.

22. See Jennifer Granick, “Megaupload: A Lot Less Guilty Than You Think,” Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, January 26, 2012.

23. David Kravats, “Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It’s .Seizable,” Wired, March 6, 2012.

24. Michael Geist, “All Your Internets Belong to US, Continued: The Case,”, March 6, 2012.

25. Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Jonathan Zittrain (eds.), Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010), 6.

26. Ibid., 11.

27. Ellen Nakashima, “A Story of Surveillance,” The Washington Post, November 7, 2007.

28. Ibid.

29. Dan Levine, “US Court Upholds Telecom Immunity for Surveillance,” Thomson Reuters, December 29, 2011.

30. Ronald Deibert et. al., Access Controlled, 381.

31. Declan McCullagh, “FBI: We Need Wiretap-Ready Web Sites – Now,” CNET, May 4, 2012.

32. Geoff White, “‘Black Boxes’ to Monitor All Internet and Phone Data,” Channel 4, June 29, 2012.

33. Alex Wawro, “What Is Deep Packet Inspection?,” PC World, February 1, 2012.

34. Declan McCullagh, “Report: Feds to Push for Net Encryption Backdoors,” CNET, September 27, 2010.


36. “Facebook’s Name Policy – Facebook Help Center,” “Google+ Page and Profile Names – Google+ Help,”

37. Alexis Madrigal, “Why Facebook and Google’s Concept of ‘Real Names’ Is Revolutionary,” The Atlantic, August 5, 2011.

38. “ Help: Pen Names and Real Names,”

39. Mark T. Kieczorek, “Amazon Real Name Badge,” Maktaw, July 23, 2004. Amy Harmon, “Amazon Glitch Unmasks War Of Reviewers,” New York Times, February 14, 2004.

40. Declan McCullagh, “Obama to Hand Commerce Dept. Authority over Cybersecurity ID,” CNET, January 7, 2011.

41. Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Things People Say,” The New Yorker, November 2, 2009.

42. Cass R. Sunstein, 2.0, (Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2007), 44.

43. Cass R. Sunstein, Adrian Vermeule, “Conspiracy Theories.” Harvard University Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper Series, Paper No. 199, University of Chicago Law School, 2008, 22.

44. Michael Kan, “Beijing to Require Users on Twitter-like Services to Register With Real Names,” PC World, December 16, 2011.

45. Michael Bristow, “China Arrests Over Coup Rumours,” BBC News, March 31, 2012. David Eimer, “China Arrests Six Over Coup Rumours,” The Telegraph, March 31, 2012.

46. Shiv Malik, “Facebook Accused of Removing Activists’ Pages,” The Guardian, April 29, 2012.

47. Tim Bradshaw, “Mark Zuckerberg Friends David Cameron,” Financial Times, June 21, 2012.

48. MacKinnon, Consent of the Networked, xxii.

49. “Internet Freedom.” The prepared text of U.S. of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's speech, delivered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Foreign Policy, January 21, 2010.

50. Evgeny Morozov, “Is Hillary Clinton launching a cyber Cold War?” Foreign Policy Net.Effect, January 21, 2010.



53. Tim Wu, “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.” Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law, Vol. 2, p. 141, 2003.

54. Joichi Ito, “Weblogs and Emergent Democracy.”

55. On a related note, cyberlaw professor Jonathan Zittrain in 2008 wrote The Future Of The Internet—And How To Stop It, a book focusing on the rise of the web's “tethered appliances,” which, like North Korean radio sets, can be attuned to exclude or disregard certain content, and are designed not to be tinkered with by their users. Zittrain argued that such closed service appliances—emphatically including design icons like iPods and iPhones, for example—would in fact contribute to stifle the generative and innovative capacity of the web. See Jonathan Zittrain, The Future Of The Internet—And How To Stop It, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008.

56. Christina Bonnington and Spencer Ackerman, “Apple Rejects App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes.” Wired, August 30, 2012.

57. Nick Wingfield, “Apple Rejects App Tracking Drone Strikes.” New York Times Blog, August 30, 2012.

58. MacKinnon, ibid., 119.

59. Gregg Keizer, “Apple boots WikiLeaks app from iPhone store.” Computerworld, December 21, 2010.

Captives of the Cloud: Part 2

1. Julian Assange, in: “The Julian Assange Show: Cypherpunks Uncut (p.1)”,, July 29, 2012.

2. Milton Mueller, Networks and States. The Global Politics of Internet Governance. Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press, 2010, 9-10.

3. Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Vol I: The Rise of the Network Society (Malden, MA: Blackwell 1996 [2000]), 442.

4. Ibid.

5. Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu, Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 73.

6. James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2011), 396.

7. James Glanz, “The Cloud Factories: Power, Pollution and the Internet,” New York Times, September 22, 2012.

8. When, for example Dutch filmmaker Marije Meerman, while working on a documentary about the financial crisis and the role of high-speed trading, wanted to find data centers servicing the New York Stock Exchange, she found no official record of where these were located. Instead, Meerman tracked them down by looking for clues on the web sites of the construction companies that built them, and by flipping through local files of New Jersey town hall meetings. Eventually, she mapped a ring of data centers around New York City. See Marije Meerman, lecture at Mediafonds, Amsterdam, January 12, 2012.

9. Pier Vittorio Aureli. In Pier Vittorio Aureli, Boris Groys, Metahaven, and Marina Vishmidt, “Form.” In Uncorporate Identity (Baden: Lars Müller, 2010), 262.

10. Boris Groys. In Pier Vittorio Aureli, Boris Groys, Metahaven, and Marina Vishmidt, “Form.” In Uncorporate Identity (Baden: Lars Müller, 2010), 263.

11. John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, February 8, 1996.

12. Saskia Sassen, Territory – Authority – Rights. From Medieval to Global Assemblages, (Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006, 2008), 330.

13. Milton Mueller, Networks and States, 268.

14. “About Microsoft”

15. See Gillian Reagan, “The Evolution of Facebook’s Mission Statement.” New York Observer, July 13, 2009.

16. See “About Skype”

17. See Instagram FAQ

18. A. Michael Froomkin, “Flood Control on the Information Ocean: Living With Anonymity, Digital Cash, and Distributed Databases,”University of Pittsburgh Journal of Law and Commerce 395 (1996).

19. See “Data Haven by Bruce Sterling from Islands in the Net”,

20. The Principality of Sealand is discussed at length in our book, Uncorporate Identity. In our interview with hacker, cryptographer, and internet entrepreneur Sean Hastings, a self-styled inventor of Sealand’s data haven, Hastings declared that “the world needs a frontier. Every law, for good or ill, is an imposition on freedom. The frontier has always been a place for people who disagree with the morality of current law to be able to get away from it.” Sean Hastings, in “The Rise And Fall Of The Data Haven, Interview with Sean Hastings,” Metahaven and Maria Vishmidt eds., Uncorporate Identity (Baden: Lars Müller, 2010), 65. Later examples include Seasteading, an enterprise founded by Patri Friedman, designed to be a set of sovereign floating sea vehicles under ultraminimal governance without welfare or taxes. In 2011, Seasteading received funding from Paypal founder Peter Thiel. This “libertarian sea colony” was directly modeled after the Principality of Sealand, mixed with the gated community, the ranch, and the cruise ship. It is uncertain whether such physical havens, if realized in the first place, will ever escape their founding vision of conservative-libertarian frontier romanticism. See Cooper Smith, “Peter Thiel, PayPal Founder, Funds ‘Seasteading,’ Libertarian Sea Colony,” Huffington Post, August 19, 2011,

21. Joi Ito, “Havenco Doing Well According BBC.” Quoted from Slashdot, July 10, 2002.

22. James Grimmelmann, “Sealand, Havenco, And The Rule Of Law.”Illinois Law Review 405, 2012, 460.

23. Grimmelmann, “Sealand, Havenco, And The Rule Of Law.” 462.

24. Grimmelmann, “Sealand, Havenco, And The Rule Of Law.” 463.

25. Cory Doctorow, “Pirate Bay trying to buy Sealand, offering citizenship.”, January 12, 2007.

26. Michael Froomkin, “Internet Regulation at a Crossroads.” Lecture at Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, June 2012. YouTube.

27. See Liz Gannes, “The Vanity of the ‘Acqhire’: Why Do a Deal That Makes No Sense?” AllThingsD, August 10, 2012.

28. Grimmelmann, “Sealand, Havenco, And The Rule Of Law.” 479.

29. James Boyle, Foucault In Cyberspace: Surveillance, Sovereignty, and Hard-Wired Censors, 1997.

30. Ibid.

31. Grimmelmann, “Sealand, Havenco, And The Rule Of Law.” 484.

32. “Icelandic bank Kaupthing threat to WikiLeaks over confidential large exposure report.”, July 31, 2009.

33. See Xeni Jardin, “WSJ obtains Wikileaks financial data: spending up, donations down.” Boingboing, December 24, 2010. and Joshua Norman, “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Now Making $86k/year.” CBS News, December 24, 2010.

34. See “Banking Blockade.”

35. Ryan Paul, “Wikileaks kicked out of Amazon’s cloud.” Ars Technica, December 1, 2010.

36. Alexia Tsotsis, “Sen. Joe Lieberman: Amazon Has Pulled Hosting Services For WikiLeaks.” Techcrunch, December 1, 2010.

37. Paul Owen, Richard Adams, Ewen MacAskill, “WikiLeaks: US Senator Joe Lieberman suggests New York Times could be investigated.” The Guardian, December 7, 2010.

38. Yochai Benkler, “WikiLeaks and the Protect-IP Act: A New Public-Private Threat to the Internet Commons,” Daedalus 4 (2011), 154–55.

39. James Grimmelmann, e-mail to author. July 17, 2012.

40. Charles Arthur, “WikiLeaks claims court victory against Visa.” The Guardian, July 12, 2012.

41. James Grimmelmann, e-mail to author, July 17, 2012.

42. Omar R. Valdimarsson, “Iceland Court Orders Valitor to Process WikiLeaks Donations.” Bloomberg, July 12, 2012.

43. Charles Arthur, The Guardian. Ibid.

44. William Neuman and Maggy Ayala, “Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying Britain.” The New York Times, August 15, 2012.

45. Tiina Pajuste, “Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority: the (mis)application of European and international law by the UK Supreme Court - Part I.” Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, June 20, 2012.

46. The British authorities sent a letter to Ecuador saying that “You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy. We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange’s presence in your premises, this is an open option for us.” See Mark Weisbrot, “Julian Assange asylum: Ecuador is right to stand up to the US.” The Guardian, August 16, 2012.

47. Sarah Oliver, “‘It’s like living in a space station’: Julian Assange speaks out about living in a one-room embassy refuge with a mattress on the floor and a blue lamp to mimic daylight.” The Daily Mail,September 29, 2012.

48. See Raffi Khatchadourian, “No Secrets. Julian assange’s mission for total transparency.” The New Yorker, June 7, 2010.

49. Twitter.

50. See “AWS Security and Compliance Center.”

51. See “Amazon Web Services: Risk and Compliance White Paper July 2012.”

52. See Malcolm Ross, “Appian World 2012 – Developer Track.”, March 16, 2012.

53. Rebecca J. Rosen, “How Your Private Emails Can Be Used Against You in Court.” The Atlantic, July 8, 2011.

54. Ibid.

55. James Gleick, The Information, 395–96.

56. Glenn Greenwald, “DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers.”, January 8, 2011.

57. Kevin Poulsen, “Feds: WikiLeaks Associates Have ‘No Right’ To Know About Demands For Their Records.” Wired, June 2, 2011.

58. Birgitta Jónsdóttir, “Evidence of a US judicial vendetta against WikiLeaks activists mounts.” The Guardian, July 3, 2012.

59. Bernard Keane, “The Boston fishing party and Australians’ rights online.” Crikey, January 17, 2012.

60. Twitter.

61. Bernard Keane, ibid.

62. See Gabriella Coleman, The Many Moods Of Anonymous: Transcript. Discussion at NYU Steinhardt, March 4, 2011.

63. Steve Fishman, “Hello, I Am Sabu ... “ New York Magazine, June 3, 2012.

64. Nate Anderson, “LulzSec leader ‘Sabu’ worked with FBI since last summer.” Ars Technica, March 6, 2012.

65. Charles Arthur, Dan Sabbagh and Sandra Laville, “LulzSec leader Sabu was working for us, says FBI.” The Guardian, March 7, 2012.

66. Saskia Sassen, Ibid., 382-3.

Captives of the Cloud, Part 3: All Tomorrow's Clouds

1. August 16, 2013.

2. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. J. J. Graham (London, 1873).

3. Smári McCarthy, “Iceland: A Radical Periphery in Action. Smári McCarthy interviewed by Metahaven,” Volume 32 (2012): 98–101.




7. Senator Ron Wyden: “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says.” Quoted in Mike Masnick, “Senators Reveal That Feds Have Secretly Reinterpreted the PATRIOT Act,” Techdirt, May 26, 2011.

8. “All of your friends, that's one hop. Your friends' friends, whether you know them or not—two hops. Your friends’ friends’ friends, whoever they happen to be, are that third hop. That’s a massive group of people that the NSA apparently considers fair game.” Quoted in Philip Bump, “The NSA Admits It Analyzes More People's Data Than Previously Revealed,” The Atlantic Wire, July 17, 2013.





13. A document that reveals this NSA plot was published by the Huffington Post. The document’s origin is “DIRNSA,” the agency’s director. See Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, Ryan Grim, “Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit ‘Radicalizers,’” Huffington Post, November 26, 2013.

14. Ruth Marcus, “James Clapper’s ‘least untruthful’ answer,” The Washington Post, June 13, 2013.

15. Jason Howerton, “James Clapper Apologizes For Lying To Congress About NSA Surveillance: ‘Clearly Erroneous’,” The Blaze, July 2, 2013.

16. Yochai Benkler, “Time to tame the NSA behemoth trampling our rights,” The Guardian, September 13, 2013.

17. Jennifer Granick, “NSA SEXINT is the Abuse You’ve All Been Waiting For,” Just Security, November 29, 2013.


19. David Weigel, “New NSA Reform Bill Authorizes All the NSA Activity That Was Making You Angry,” Slate, November 1, 2013.

20. Mark Hosenball, “Obama halted NSA spying on IMF and World Bank headquarters,” Reuters, October 31, 2013.

21. Claire Cain Miller, “Google Bases a Campaign on Emotions, Not Terms,” The New York Times, January 1, 2012.

22. See our discussion of network power in the book Uncorporate Identity.

23. Julian Assange, “The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’,” The New York Times, June 1, 2013.

24. See “Evgeny Morozov on technology—The folly of solutionism,” The, May 2, 2013.

25. Milton L. Mueller, Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance (Boston, MA: MIT Press, 2010), 268.

26. Bruce Schneier, “The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back,” The Guardian, September 5, 2013.



29. Carne Ross, "Citizens of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your data," The Guardian, October 31, 2013.

30. The US Congress withdrew the bills proposing SOPA and PIPA in February 2012 after widspread protests. Around the same time, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was successfully defeated by citizens in the European Union.


32. Michael Boldin/NullifyNSA, email to authors, December 4, 2013.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. For NullifyNSA

38. Elizabeth Dwoskin and Frances Robinson, ‟NSA Internet Spying Sparks Race to Create Offshore Havens for Data Privacy,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2013.

39. Caroline Copley, “Swisscom builds ‘Swiss Cloud’ as spying storm rages,” Reuters, November 3, 2013.


41. Jonathan A. Obar, “Phantom Data Sovereigns: Walter Lippmann, Big Data and the Fallacy of Personal Data Sovereignty” (March 25, 2013).


43. See the extensive study by Anselm Franke, Eyal Weizman, and Ines Geisler, “Islands: The Geography of Extraterritoriality” Archis 6 (Amsterdam: Artimo, 2003): 19–21,



46. “The Constitutional Council hands over the bill for a new constitution.” Stjornlagarad, July 29, 2011.

47. “Iceland’s media law: ‘The Switzerland of bits,’” The Economist, June 17, 2010.

48. ‟Birgitta Jónsdóttir—Samara/Massey Journalism Lecture.” Uploaded on July 21, 2011.

49. “Iceland: A Radical Periphery in Action. Smári McCarthy interviewed by Metahaven,” Volume 32 (2012): 98–101.

50. James Grimmelmann, email to authors, July 17, 2012.

51. Eleanor Saitta, email to authors, November 4, 2012.

52. Ibid.

53. Ibid.



56. Electronic Countermeasures GLOW Festival video, Liam Young.

57. “The Pirate Bay Ships New Servers to Mountain Complex,” Torrent Freak, May 16, 2011.


59. Franke, Weizman, Geisler, ibid.

60. Pierre Englebert and Denis M. Tull, “Postconflict Reconstruction in Africa. Flawed Ideas about Failed States,” International Security, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Spring 2008): 106.

61. James Grimmelmann, email to authors, July 17, 2012.

62. Ozong Agborsangaya-Fiteu, “Another failed state? Cameroon's descent,” International Herald Tribune, April 10, 2008.

63. Andy Greenberg, “Cameroon's Cybercrime Boom,”, December 2, 2009.

64. James Grimmelmann, email to authors, July 20, 2012.

The Black Stack

1. Software (and hardware) stacks are technical architectures which assign inter-dependent layers to different specific clusters of technologies, and fix specific protocols for how one layer can send information up or down to adjacent layers. OSI and TCP/IP are obvious examples.

2. See Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum, trans. G. L. Ulmen (Candor, NY: Telos Press, 2006).

3. The reference is to James Scott’s Seeing Like a State, but the term seems to have expanded and migrated beyond his antigovernmental thesis. See also, for example, Bruno Latour’s lecture “How to Think Like A State” (“in the presence of the Queen of Holland” →). For this text, I mean to tie one thread to Scott’s connotation (how states see everything available to their schemes) and to a more Foucauldian sense of the actual optical technologies that conjure forms of governance in their own image. Today, these privileges are also enjoyed by the hardware/software platforms that manufacture such optics and leverage them as the basis of their own exo-state governmental innovations.

4. I mean “Cloud” in a very general sense, referring to planetary-scale software/hardware platforms, supporting data centers, physical transmission links, browser-based applications, and so forth.

5. My ongoing discussion on the political economy of platforms with Benedict Singleton, Nick Srnicek, and Alex Williams informs these last remarks.

6. See his “Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk” in Global Catastrophic Risks, eds. Nick Bostrom and Martin Rees (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).