Designing Database Transparency

HBGary – Network of Business Relations


Research and data visualization (poster)
HB Gary – Network of Business Relations, detected after Cybersecurity Firm’s E-mail Leak

→ Workshop Designing Database Transparency at MaHKU by Metahaven, May 2011.
The designer as data miner, investigator and analyst.

HBGary Inc. and HBGary Federal are two affiliated technology security companies. They sell products to the US Federal Government and other clients like information assurance companies, computer emergency response teams, and computer forensic investigators. My research and the resulting map of business network provide a view on HBGary’s relations with prime contractors, other subcontractors, security technology firms, private companies and government end user agencies.
HBGary e-mails leaked by the hacker collective Anonymous early in 2011 provide a glimpse of the intertwining of private and public security power. The surveillance and national security state has become largely privatized with very little separation between government and unrestrained corporate power as a result. Corporations like HBGary actively exploit the power of the state to further establish and enhance their businesses.
Like Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and journalist, said: “The nexus of private and public security power is a dangerous mix.”

The full-scale merger between public and private spheres is easily one of the most critical yet under-discussed political topics. Especially in the worlds of the Surveillance and National Security State, the powers of the state have become largely privatized.
There is very little separation between government power and corporate power. Those who exert the latter basically exert the former. The revolving door between the highest levels of government and corporate offices rotates so fast and continuously that it has basically flown off its track and no longer provides even the minimal barrier it once did. It’s not merely that corporate power is unrestrained; it’s worse than that: corporations actively exploit the power of the state to further entrench and enhance their power. “The real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power.”