Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people within their effort to safeguard their privacy have tried to set a boundary to what could be monitored and snooped. This boundary has kept shifting; particularly advancements in technology have always managed to get possible to reach further into the lives of common people and their personal details. Increase that another powerful entity, the corporations, who in their pursuit of holy profit have tried to read customer behavior to make sure their profit targets are met. History shows businesses and governing powers have often worked on common agenda. Increasingly bypassing laws designed to protect folks from unreasonable interference within their life.
The line between governments and corporations is fading away. This is not a prediction but a fact which is happening worldwide. The govporation use and deploy whatever it could to keep the status quo despite the increasing gap between the 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 differ from the within by doing whatever they can to steer the ship to a better destiny. One cannot point to a complete government or corporation and say everyone inside it is 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 linked 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 an instrument for collaboration between researchers and security issues were not on your brain map of developers. Any security mechanisms that people build today are retrofits trying to cover the gaps. The internet, or the web to be short, reaches into modern devices in one way or another. It’s in your own home, office, outside “watching” you and even on your own 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. Look around you and see what is going on while reading this to understand we have been not seeing a loss of threats to people everywhere but an increase. The additional capacity to monitor your lives in-depth will undoubtedly be justified through certain, man-made, events and technical developments. The threat isn’t 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 stop personal data will undoubtedly be immense and relentless. A significant 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 should be enacted, you need to be familiar with 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 “big brother” watches your every move! Boundaries of your privacy have to be guarded zealously.
Assuming by default that many people are a threat and therefor justifying total surveillance and control of people is not the way to go. It opens a huge 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 nice 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 an electronic disaster as all 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 into a weapon.
Automated Multi Source Profiling
Automated multi source profiling is now part of lifestyle whether you prefer it or not. Such profiling can be used to narrow down targets that require to be watched for just about any specific reason. The reason may be good or bad, the method itself is flawed and can cause a lot of people to land in databases where they don’t belong. The section of gathering data from as many sources as possible and automatically utilize it to categorize people is asking for problems. Now that humongous amounts of data could be easily analyzed and computer technology provides the tools to manage this “big data” you will have increasing pressure to mix databases from many sources. Data gathered from government branches, commercial parties to non-profit organizations providing another little bit of the puzzle about your daily life. With the technologies available today, it will be simple to collect, merge and manage the info about an individual. That all is collected without reason, innocent or not, for profit or just because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The application of biometric data is to help determine the identity of individuals in an authentic manner, particularly when multiple sets of data are employed. For example, 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 besides what they need to determine the desirability of an individual to enter the country. Sadly enough using biometric data is currently also applied on the streets and by third party organizations for different uses. Think of identifying some one at specific places within the country and saving that information for later use. This does not target international travelers anymore, but everyone within borders could be remotely identified by face recognition camera’s without reason. Many experts have accused biometric data of raising a large percentage of false positives. You can get automatically identified as an unhealthy person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations and others are linking an increasing number of of their databases to form a giant worldwide database in which a lot of people have access. Some with not so good intentions.
Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime
Think about the recent spate of news about the NSA snooping. Although for some people this was not just a surprise, for other people who always called worried citizens tinfoil crazies, it really is embarrassing by all of the revelations about the widespread mass surveillance. Not merely have they been monitoring domestic citizens, they have been cited for snooping on people and political parties in other countries. No doubt, the extensive option of internet technologies and the reach of the web have made these activities possible. That some well-known whistle-blowers could access the data acquired by NSA, is a testimony that even intelligence agencies have difficulties protecting their operations and data against the human factor. It’s of-course not only 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 to their own governments or only limited by a few people that are not allowed to say much. One of the reasons is that public figures will keep claiming there is nothing to be worried about and life goes on for the common man. Also traditional intelligence gathering shifted to economic intelligence to greatly help the own economy. In commercial terms it’s called business intelligence but when it comes to the level of secret agencies it goes beyond the known horizon. Many people are a target, just by reading this article you are probably already being monitored and categorized in a few database. Sorry to break it for you.
Hardware Bigger Target
There is a trend which is slowly finding its solution to the general public to use encryption software to secure data rather than leaving it in the clear. This goes for exchanging data but additionally storing data on a local computer ranging from tablets, phones, desktops to servers. The awakening of everyone is now also forcing a great deal of companies to start implementing some kind of encryption and privacy rules. This is encouraging however, 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 implies that hardware may be the new priority target to intercept data. Not just criminals but also government agencies are, with or without the understanding of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. They gather plenty of information which has nothing to do with a legitimate target they’re after is ignored. Everything is stored for future use. Now with the Internet of Things, IoT, it is more important than ever to implement proper security. Still it isn’t a guarantee as other events show how shady agencies influence companies to weaken their product security to permit them easy access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing thanks to the cooperation of worldwide communities of people and is an option to “blackboxes”. Coupled with more decentralizing of encrypted data flows mixed through Tor-like networks it’ll mean people can still get data from A through X to B. Even though such progress is unwanted it cannot be stopped without destroying the internet as it is and turning the planet into one big surveillance state. Crime in all its forms and shapes will always be part of humanity to cope with, so using this as a reason to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is really a no go. Perhaps it would benefit only the few who have a different agenda and have to spread fear to keep people in line serving them.
Increase of Cyber Strikes, Disinformation & Infiltration
It appears to be getting normal to attack first and investigate later as that is “always” the very best defense against those pesky enemies of hawaii; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation has been spread through “bought” press outlets. Increase that infiltration of organizations along with other entities and we have been another step closer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes are not as visible to the mass so they do not appear to be important enough to question or think about even though they get reported. Some media outlets spread disinformation on command, another example of the govporation complex. The question is what is accomplished beside making 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 it is 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 really is considered to be almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and so are argued by the federal government only. There exists a review process to appeal decisions of the FISA court but they are few and far between. Not just one case has gone in appeal to the Supreme court. This can be the court that issues warrants for (mass)surveillance including phone taps on individuals. The extent of the warrants reached 1800 in 2013 alone. The state story is to stop terrorism and protect people which alone is logical. The main point is that there is no more accountability for individuals in this technique. These warrants are bound to increase and specific judges of FISA will tend to be amenable to issuing more of these authorizations. The authorizations often allow massive levels of data to be supplied to the NSA and 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. Bitcoin Era is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and point to others which are not. Lots of the developed countries, particularly 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 protect and serve the people seems to be getting less important with each passing year.
More Threat Branding
It is no secret that many entities come under the scanner of government agencies and also companies trying to dominate part of that job. As increasing numbers of people get “connected”, like online, their activities become noticeable to those who wish to monitor and track them. How or on which basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is usually a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, there will be higher potential for getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the newest technologies you can easily get tagged as a threat but extremely difficult to fight against it or even know such entry exists in a few database. The broader powers the govporation complex gets the more entities will be branded as a potential threat. By now everyone who critically followed worldwide developments can predict a “threat” could be predicated on economic motivation or simply asking the “wrong” questions, even while a journalist.
Weaponized Urban Drones
Amazon has announced that it’ll be delivering products bought by its customers through drones. That could or might not become reality, but it clearly demonstrates that commercial behemoth thinks it really is feasible. Drones that have capacity 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 many governmental agencies are already increasing the urban usage 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 sort of heavily armed drones used in military operations but instead the compact type with more features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps an initial step to robocops into the future with the authority of a genuine cop. As of this writing there are various companies already offering armed drones for crowd control with pepper-spray, rubber bullets, blinding lasers, ear-piercing audio and so on. A drone equipped with high-definition cameras and other light spectrum modes can easily 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 far off when police drones can launch missiles and other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard rather than in a far away country.
World Events Impact Liberties
Today’s world is quickly changing with each negative event speeding up certain unpopular agendas. Not saying that change is definitely bad, but we focus here on the result it has on liberties and how some powerful groups benefit from it. After each 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 hard for in the past merely to get a false sense of security. That sort of flawed logic has helped raise the monitoring, tracking, limiting freedom of citizens and increasing the power of the govporation for its own agenda. Might know about be doing is discover the root cause of why a conflict or event happened to begin with and learn from it rather than just fighting the outward symptoms as usual. In the event that you still think after all what has happened so far and leaked to the general public there is still no reason going to the alarm button then nothing else will change your view until it 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 is the most well-known of these while there have been 275 crypto currencies around as of 2014. One clear trend you can easily notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The marketplace capitalization is a good indicator of this although 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 is at $774 million and Litecoin as a third at $96 million. With economic and political issues affecting various countries on earth, 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 really is another example of how people rebel by starting to develop and offer alternatives to a system which will 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 cover the rotating credit repayments. The larger this burden, the lesser may be the freedom of the person to really follow his free will. The primary concern of the person involved will be to stick to the current job, not rock the boat at all and feel the daily grind to ensure the debt repayments happen. One very effective method of control is to have greater burdens on everybody’s shoulders. To help keep that control it is important for those in power to restrict ways of trading which can’t be easily monitored, taxed and controlled. God forbid people to actually miss the middleman and deal directly with each other and change the system from within.
Worldwide Increase of Conflicts
By the end of year 2013, The Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK) reported the existence of some 400 conflicts everywhere. At least 20 of the fit the category war. As of 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 many people in stable communities. That in itself can be bad or good if it awakens visitors to reality and see why these exact things happen, the story in it and not just a symptom out of the blue. The following 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 wanting 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 own Republic states backed by Russia.
– Nigeria, where terror group Boko Haram in their attempt to introduce Sharia law, keeps attacking moderate Muslims and Christians.
– Sudan, where groups of mixed ethnic origin are fighting with government forces and one another.
– The long bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine with no 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 overtaking a considerable part including a bit of Iraq.
– Iraq, fighting the war against IS, assisted by an international coalition consisting of the US, 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 have 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 fresh country in 2010 2010 2010. You can find two wars going on. Fight between the ex-vice president’s and the president’s forces is among 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 against the central government mixed with terror groups using the country as their base of operations.
Although almost all of the above conflict areas have a long violent history it is likely to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict is not directly expected. Economic disparities will always be 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 variety 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 kind of story for humanity as you may be thinking, just another flavor and color.
Corporate Influence on the web & ICANN
You can find major developments in the digital world that indicate the increasing dominance of major corporations over the internet. They are closely dealing with multiple governments on policies, shared projects and sharing data. Most willingly cooperate despite realizing that some of what they are 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 you should understand what ICANN is, extracted from the ICANN website a brief introduction:
” To reach another person online you must type an address into your personal computer – a name or a number. That address should be unique so computers know where to find one another. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. This is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world 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 web. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the web. “
Now with the push for ICANN to eliminate itself from governmental oversight to a more corporate setting it is a lot more worrying for the future of the internet as it exists now. Of-course it really is currently choosing between the lesser of evils until hopefully an improved solution is found. We have seen what happens when the so called “free market” gets control, often people will not reap the benefits of this but again those who can afford it in wealth and power will applaud it. It is too much because of this article to discuss the limits of “free market” by those who control it but be confident we will do so in a fresh article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon among others plan to provide internet services to poor regions on earth where there is none or hard to get online. Of-course it is not just because it makes their heart warm however they wish to also decide what folks pay, see, do and get on “their” version of the internet. Just like what the lobby of corporate groups wants for the internet 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 great pressure from the corporate lobby. So you might want to take a look at how this is arranged in your country if.