Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people within their effort to protect their privacy have tried to set a boundary to what could possibly be monitored and snooped. This boundary has kept shifting; particularly advancements in technology have always made it possible to reach further in to the lives of common people and their personal details. Increase that another powerful entity, the corporations, who within their quest for holy profit have tried to learn customer behavior to ensure their profit targets are met. History shows businesses and governing powers have often done common agenda. Increasingly bypassing laws designed to protect people from unreasonable interference within their life.
The line between governments and corporations is fading away. This is simply not a prediction but an undeniable fact which is happening worldwide. The govporation use and deploy whatever it could to help keep the status quo despite the increasing gap between your common people and the few who own almost anything. Despite all the negativity most of us see, hear and read, there are always people within governments and corporations who usually do not agree with certain actions or policies. Hopefully that they can bring change from the inside by doing whatever they are able to to steer the ship to an improved destiny. One cannot indicate a whole government or corporation and say everyone in it has gone out to dictate life to the others to serve holy profit.
Now the world has turned into a global digital community in which a large percentage of people and devices are connected to this entity called the Internet. One of the ways the Internet enriches our lives is that people can reach anyone on this net wherever they are. But, do not forget that if you can reach anyone easily, others can reach you equally easily and dig into your daily life. When it started, it had been a tool for collaboration between researchers and security issues weren’t on your brain map of developers. Any security mechanisms that we build today are retrofits trying to cover the gaps. The web, or the net to be short, reaches into most modern devices in one way or another. It’s in your house, office, outside “watching” you or even on your body as a wearable. More worrisome is the rise of intelligent mobile technology that’s potentially high-risk whether you are at home or outside jogging in the park.
Several social-political trends indicate why those in power and in the monitoring / tracking business will seek to grab additional power and access. Shop around you and see what is going on while reading this to comprehend we are not seeing a decrease of threats to people everywhere but an increase. The additional capacity to monitor your lives in-depth will be justified through certain, man-made, events and technical developments. The threat is not just to privacy anymore but to life and limb. We will take a look at several current and upcoming developments which impact the non-public world of the “commoner”. The pressures to give up personal data will undoubtedly be immense and relentless. An important defense for individuals is awareness and make an effort to set the boundary which governments, corporate bodies or other people must respect by real laws. Suitable laws will have to be enacted, you need to be aware of new developments and their consequences. As somebody once said; eternal vigil is the price one has to cover to maintain freedom. You don’t want to live in an Orwellian world where “your government” watches your every move! Boundaries of one’s privacy have to be guarded zealously.
Assuming by default that many people are a threat and therefor justifying total surveillance and control of individuals is not the ideal solution. It opens a giant can of worms that is a guaranteed ticket to a society we usually do not want. One reason is human nature as demonstrated countless times by history, not discussing the good kind. Another reason is that governments come and go similar to the world keeps changing. When, not if, we enter another dark period in history it will be a digital disaster as all of the data gathered is now offered by the hands of evil. Innocent data will not exist, it is only a matter of the right time and the incorrect hands to turn it right into a weapon.
Automated Multi Source Profiling
Automated multi source profiling is now part of daily life whether you prefer it or not. Such profiling is used to narrow down targets that require to be watched for just about any specific reason. The reason may be good or bad, the technique itself is flawed and will cause a lot of visitors to land in databases where they do not belong. The part of gathering data from as much sources as possible and automatically utilize it to categorize people is requesting problems. Now that humongous levels of data can be easily analyzed and computer technology supplies the tools to manage this “big data” there will be increasing pressure to mix databases from many sources. Data gathered from government branches, commercial parties to non-profit organizations providing another piece of the puzzle about your daily life. With the technologies on the market, it will be easy to collect, merge and manage the info about an individual. That is collected without reason, innocent or not, for profit or just because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The application of biometric data would be to help determine the identity of people in an authentic manner, particularly if multiple sets of data are employed. For instance, the passport documents of many countries now routinely are the fingerprint information but iris scan data and face recognition data are making an introduction too. Today the Canadian government uses the US biometric database in addition to what they have to determine the desirability of a person to enter the country. Sadly enough the application of biometric data is currently also applied on the streets and by alternative party organizations for different uses. Think of identifying someone at specific places within the country and saving that information for later use. Bitcoin Era will not target international travelers anymore, but everyone within borders can be remotely identified by face recognition camera’s without reason. Many experts have accused biometric data of raising a lot of false positives. You can find automatically identified as an unhealthy person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations and others are linking progressively more of their databases to create a giant worldwide database where a lot of folks have access. Some with not so good intentions.
Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime
Consider the recent spate of news concerning the NSA snooping. Although for some people this was not just a surprise, for others who always called worried citizens tinfoil crazies, it is embarrassing by all of the revelations concerning the widespread mass surveillance. Not only have they been monitoring domestic citizens, they have been cited for snooping on people and political parties far away. No doubt, the extensive option of internet technologies and the reach of the Internet have made these activities possible. That some well-known whistle-blowers could access the data acquired by NSA, is really a testimony that even intelligence agencies have difficulties protecting their operations and data contrary to the human factor. It’s of-course not merely the NSA, basically any similar agency in other countries does exactly the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. Plenty of their operations are not reported with their own governments or only limited to a few people who are not allowed to state much. One of the reasons is that public figures can keep claiming you’ll find nothing to worry about and life continues on for the common man. Also traditional intelligence gathering shifted to economic intelligence to help the own economy. In commercial terms it’s called business intelligence however when it comes to the level of secret agencies it goes beyond the known horizon. Everyone is a target, just by scanning this article you’re probably already being monitored and categorized in a few database. Sorry to break it to you.
Hardware Bigger Target
There is a trend that is slowly finding its solution to the general public to use encryption software to secure data rather than leaving it in the clear. This applies to exchanging data but also storing data on an area computer which range from tablets, phones, desktops to servers. The awakening of everyone is now also forcing lots of companies to start implementing some kind of encryption and privacy rules. That is encouraging but not enough, especially the dominating corporations will always discover a way to breach that trust while at the same time enjoy protection from their friends in governments. Recent, leaked, information shows that hardware may be the new priority target to intercept data. Not just criminals but additionally government agencies are, with or minus the understanding of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. That they gather plenty of information which has nothing in connection with a legitimate target they’re after is ignored. Everything is stored for future use. Now with the web of Things, IoT, it really is more important than ever before to implement proper security. Still it is not a warranty as other events show how shady agencies influence companies to weaken their product security to permit them quick access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing thanks to the cooperation of worldwide communities of individuals and is an alternative to “blackboxes”. Combined with more decentralizing of encrypted data flows mixed through Tor-like networks it will mean people can still get data from A through X to B. Even if such progress is unwanted it cannot be stopped without destroying the web as it is and turning the world into one big surveillance state. Crime in every its forms and shapes will always be part of humanity to handle, so using this as grounds to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is really a no go. Perhaps it would benefit only the few who have a different agenda and need to spread fear to help keep people in line serving them.
Increase of Cyber Strikes, Disinformation & Infiltration
It seems to be getting normal to attack first and investigate later as that’s “always” the best defense against those pesky enemies of the state; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation has been spread through “bought” press outlets. Add to that infiltration of organizations and other entities and we have been another step closer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes aren’t as visible to the mass so they do not appear to be important enough to question or consider even if they get reported. Some media outlets spread disinformation on command, another example of the govporation complex. The question is what is accomplished beside creating a potential situation worse by pre-emptive strikes, corrupting press for hidden agendas and spreading distrust in society by more infiltrations? By knowing the why and who society can determine if this is actually the world we want to live in or do we need to make changes.
More Secret Courts
Here we take as an example the U.S secret courts but that is by no means the only country using such setups for specific operations. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the FISA of 1978 allows a secret court to be setup. It is regarded as almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and so are argued by the government only. There is a review process to appeal decisions of the FISA court but these are few and far between. Not just one case has gone in interest the Supreme court. This is the court that issues warrants for (mass)surveillance including phone taps on individuals. The extent of these warrants reached 1800 in 2013 alone. The state story is to stop terrorism and protect people which alone is logical. The point is that there is forget about accountability for the people in this technique. These warrants are bound to increase and specific judges of FISA are likely to be amenable to issuing more of the authorizations. The authorizations often allow massive levels of data to be supplied to the NSA along with other agencies by telecom operators. In its rulings the court often takes on questions about constitutional validity and delivers interpretations which never undergo any public scrutiny. That is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and indicate others which are not. A lot of the developed countries, specially the ones growing in to the “developed” club, certainly have such secret courts. The troublesome part, beside legality, may be the use of such data for more control and economic espionage on everyone. The old mission to safeguard and serve the people seems to be getting less important with each passing year.
More Threat Branding
It is no secret that lots of entities come beneath the scanner of government agencies and even companies trying to dominate part of that job. As increasing numbers of people get “connected”, like on the web, their activities become visible to those who wish to monitor and track them. How or on what basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is often a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, you will have higher prospect of getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the current newest technologies it is easy to get tagged as a threat but extremely difficult to fight against it and even know such entry exists in some database. The broader powers the govporation complex gets the more entities will undoubtedly be branded as a potential threat. Right now everyone who critically followed worldwide developments can predict that a “threat” could be based on economic motivation or perhaps asking the “wrong” questions, even as a journalist.
Weaponized Urban Drones
Amazon has announced that it will be delivering products bought by its customers through drones. Which could or may not become reality, nonetheless it clearly demonstrates that commercial behemoth thinks it is feasible. Drones that have capability to reach the required addresses are feasible today. However, authorities in various countries need to finalize regulations governing flying drones in urban airspace before commercial projects could launch. It is easy to realize that the various governmental agencies already are increasing the urban use of flying drones for surveillance and monitoring purposes. Beside that it contributes to mass-surveillance, a worrying development is arming drones with lethal and non-lethal weapons for use against civilians. These are not the type of heavily armed drones used in military operations but rather the compact type with an increase of features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps an initial step to robocops into the future with the authority of a genuine cop. Around this writing there are several companies already offering armed drones for crowd control with pepper-spray, rubber bullets, blinding lasers, ear-piercing audio etc. A drone equipped with high-definition cameras and other light spectrum modes can quickly identify targets in real-time linked to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there’s a growing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. Your day may not be remote when police drones can launch missiles along with other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard rather than in a a long way away country.
World Events Impact Liberties
Today’s world is quickly changing with each negative event accelerating certain unpopular agendas. Not saying that change is always bad, but we focus here on the effect it is wearing liberties and how some powerful groups benefit from it. After every major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do exactly what we ought to not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so difficult for in the past merely to get yourself a false sense of security. That sort of flawed logic has helped raise the monitoring, tracking, limiting freedom of citizens and increasing the energy of the govporation for its own agenda. Might know about be doing is discover the real cause of why a conflict or event happened to begin with and learn from it instead of just fighting the outward symptoms as usual. If you still think in the end what has happened so far and leaked to the public there’s still no reason to hit the alarm button then nothing else will change your view until it really is too late. Perhaps it really is too late.
The Rise Of Crypto Currencies
Several crypto currencies attended into existence during the last few years. Bitcoin may be the most well-known of these while there were 275 crypto currencies around by 2014. One clear trend it is simple to notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The market capitalization is a good indicator of this though it is a bumpy ride with all the current speculators involved. The Bitcoin market cap happens to be around $4.3 billion, Ripple as a second reaches $774 million and Litecoin as a third at $96 million. With economic and political issues affecting various countries on the globe, more people start to hedge their bets on the national currencies and work with these crypto currencies that are not controlled by any government or entity. It is another exemplory case of how people push back by starting to develop and offer alternatives to something which does not serve them anymore.
Cash Limits & Debt Increasing
Most developed countries, governments, float nowadays on credit while an increasing amount of citizens tell you their credit limits and begin to live to pay the rotating credit repayments. The bigger this burden, the lesser is the freedom of the person to really follow his free will. The principal concern of the individual involved will be to stick to the current job, not rock the boat at all and go through the daily grind to guarantee the debt repayments happen. One very effective way of control would be to have greater burdens on everybody’s shoulders. To keep that control it is vital for those in power to restrict ways of trading which cannot be easily monitored, taxed and controlled. God forbid visitors to actually miss the middleman and deal directly with each other and change the system from within.
Worldwide Increase of Conflicts
By the finish of year 2013, The Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK) reported the existence of some 400 conflicts around the globe. At least 20 of these fit the category war. By 2015 the rise of conflict areas in a year is worrying since elements of such are starting to find a way into the daily life of several people in stable communities. That in itself could be bad or good if it awakens visitors to reality and see why these things happen, the story in it and not just a symptom out of the blue. The next is really a limited list, in no particular order, of major ongoing conflicts which keeps growing:
– Democratic Republic of Congo, where in fact the army of the ruling government is fighting with the M23 rebel group and religious tensions are flaring up between Christians and Muslims.
– Mali, where Islamist rebels are actively seeking to take over the country fighting against mostly French forces who intervened.
– The war between Ukraine, backed by the US/EU, against rebels in the east of Ukraine where they declared their very own Republic states backed by Russia.
– Nigeria, where terror group Boko Haram in their try to introduce Sharia law, keeps attacking moderate Muslims and Christians.
– Sudan, where sets of mixed ethnic origin are fighting with government forces and one another.
– The long bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine without real solution in sight.
– Afghanistan, remains a war zone of fighting between government forces, assisted by the united states mostly, and the Taliban.
– Unstable Pakistani border with Afghanistan and increasing drone strikes on extremist groups.
– Mexico, remains the hotbed of drug-wars, human trafficking, blackmail and smuggling by the drug cartels.
– Syria, the civil war continues to rage on with the terror group IS taking over a considerable part including a bit of Iraq.
– Iraq, fighting the war against IS, assisted by a global coalition consisting of the united states, Arab countries, Iran and the EU. Religious violence between Sunnis and Shiites can be increasing.
– The Philippines where Moro people continue their struggle for independence.
– Somalia continues to possess problems arising out of fighting between the rebel Al-Shabaab group and the government forces. Part of it really is spilling to surrounding countries.
– South Sudan, created as a new country this year 2010 2010. You can find two wars going on. Fight between your ex-vice president’s and the president’s forces is one of the conflicts. While the presidential force is also engaged in supporting autonomy struggles of two provinces in neighboring Sudan.
– North Korea and South Korea, occasional skirmishes and technically still in war.
– Yemen, rebel groups fighting contrary to the central government mixed with terror groups utilizing the country as their base of operations.
Although a lot of the above conflict areas have an extended violent history it is likely to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict is not directly expected. Economic disparities will always be known reasons for flare-ups throughout history. Now that the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) break right into the “developed” countries club one must anticipate serious friction over market, influence, resources and territory. Internal conflicts, within countries, sometimes differ but often it involves a combination of one or more of the following causes: poor economy, corruption, police state, religious tensions, foreign influence, oppression, unpopular politics, extreme difference poor vs rich, racial inequality. The same old story for humanity as you may be thinking, yet another flavor and color.
Corporate Influence online & ICANN
You can find major developments in the digital world that indicate the increasing dominance of major corporations online. They are closely dealing with multiple governments on policies, shared projects and sharing data. Most willingly cooperate despite understanding that some of what they’re doing is illegal or at the very least very unethical. But holy profit, power and status is something shared by both parties giving it the name “the govporation”. Before we continue it is important to understand what ICANN is, taken from the ICANN website a short introduction:
” To reach another person on the web you need to type an address into your computer – a name or perhaps a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers around the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is just a not-for-profit partnership of individuals from worldwide dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers. ICANN doesn’t control content online. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it can have an important effect on the expansion and evolution of the web. “
Now with the push for ICANN to remove itself from governmental oversight to a far more corporate setting it is a lot more worrying for the future of the internet since it exists now. Of-course it is currently choosing between the lesser of evils until hopefully a better solution is found. We have seen what happens when the so called “free market” takes over, often people will not reap the benefits of this but again those that are able it in wealth and power will applaud it. It is too much for this article to discuss the limits of “free market” by those that control it but be confident we will achieve this in a fresh article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others intend to provide internet services to poor regions in the world where there’s none or hard to get online. Of-course it isn’t just because it creates their heart warm but they wish to also decide what people pay, see, do and obtain on “their” version of the web. Just like what the lobby of corporate groups wants online as it is now. That is also why some countries went ahead to repair net neutrality by law, although some implemented a weak version of it under pressure from the corporate lobby. So you may want to have a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.