Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people in their effort to safeguard their privacy have tried to create a boundary to what could possibly 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 stats. Add to that another powerful entity, the corporations, who within their quest for holy profit have tried to learn customer behavior to make sure their profit targets are met. History shows businesses and governing powers have often done common agenda. Increasingly bypassing laws intended to protect folks from unreasonable interference in 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 everything. Despite all the negativity we all see, hear and read, you can find 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 has gone out to dictate life to the others to serve holy profit.
Now the world has developed into 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 when you can reach anyone easily, others can reach you equally easily and dig into your 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 attempting to cover the gaps. The web, or the net to be short, reaches into modern devices in one way or the other. It’s in your own home, office, outside “watching” you as well as on your body as a wearable. More worrisome is the rise of intelligent mobile technology that’s potentially high-risk whether you’re 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 seize additional power and access. Look around you and see the proceedings 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 isn’t just to privacy anymore but to life and limb. We will check out several current and upcoming developments which impact the non-public world of the “commoner”. The pressures to stop personal data will be immense and relentless. An important defense for the people is awareness and try 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 may be 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 should be guarded zealously.
Assuming by default that many people are a threat and therefor justifying total surveillance and control of people is not the ideal solution. It opens a huge can of worms that is a guaranteed ticket to a society we 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 human history it will be an electronic disaster as all the data gathered is now available at the hands of evil. Innocent data will not exist, it is just a matter of the proper time and the wrong hands to turn it right into a weapon.
Automated Multi Source Profiling
Automated multi source profiling is now part of lifestyle whether you prefer it or not. Such profiling is used to narrow down targets that need to be watched for any specific reason. The reason could be good or bad, the technique itself is flawed and can cause a lot of visitors to land in databases where they don’t belong. The part of gathering data from as much sources as possible and automatically use it to categorize people is asking for problems. Now that humongous amounts of data can be easily analyzed and computer technology supplies 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 life. With the technologies on the market, it will be easy to collect, merge and manage the data about an individual. That all is collected without reason, innocent or not, for profit or simply because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The application of biometric data would be to help determine the identity of individuals in an authentic manner, particularly if multiple sets of data are used. For instance, the passport documents of many countries now routinely include 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 united states. Sadly enough using biometric data is now also applied on the streets and by alternative party organizations for different uses. Think of identifying somebody at specific places within the united states 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 obtain automatically identified as an unhealthy person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations among others are linking progressively more of their databases to form a giant worldwide database where a lot of people have access. Some with not so good intentions.
Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime
Consider the recent spate of news concerning the NSA snooping. Although for a lot of this was not 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 only have they been monitoring domestic citizens, they are 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 info 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 far away does exactly the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. A lot of their operations aren’t reported to their own governments or only limited to a few people who are not allowed to state much. Among the reasons is that public figures will keep claiming there is nothing to worry about and life goes 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 reading this article you are probably already being monitored and categorized in some database. Sorry to break it to you.
Hardware Bigger Target
There is a trend that is slowly finding its way to the general public to utilize encryption software to secure data instead of leaving it in the clear. This goes for exchanging data but also storing data on a local computer ranging from tablets, phones, desktops to servers. The awakening of the general public is now also forcing many companies to start implementing some type of encryption and privacy rules. This 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 also government agencies are, with or minus the knowledge of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. That they gather a huge amount 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 Internet of Things, IoT, it is more important than ever before 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 allow them easy access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing thanks to the cooperation of worldwide communities of people and is an alternative to “blackboxes”. Combined 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 if such progress is unwanted it cannot be stopped without destroying the web as it is and turning the planet into one big surveillance state. Crime in every its forms and shapes will be part of humanity to handle, so using this as grounds to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is 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’s “always” the very best defense against those pesky enemies of hawaii; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation is being spread through “bought” press outlets. Add to that infiltration of organizations along with other entities and we are 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 if 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 this is actually the world we want to reside in or do we have 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 real 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 regarded as 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 one case has gone in interest the Supreme court. This is actually the court that issues warrants for (mass)surveillance including phone taps on individuals. The extent of these warrants reached 1800 in 2013 alone. The official story is to stop terrorism and protect people which in itself is logical. The point is that there is no more accountability for the people in this process. These warrants are bound to improve 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 assumes questions about constitutional validity and delivers interpretations which never undergo any public scrutiny. This is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and point to others which are not. Most of the developed countries, particularly the ones growing in to the “developed” club, certainly have such secret courts. The troublesome part, beside legality, is the use of such data for more control and economic espionage on everyone. The old mission to protect and serve the people appears to be getting less important with each passing year.
More Threat Branding
It is no secret that lots of entities come under the scanner of government agencies and also companies trying to dominate section of that job. As more and more people get “connected”, like on the net, their activities become noticeable to those who want 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 see higher prospect of getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the newest technologies you can easily get tagged as a threat but almost impossible to fight against it or even know such entry exists in some 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 based on economic motivation or perhaps asking the “wrong” questions, even as 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 is feasible. Drones that have capability to reach the required addresses are feasible today. However, authorities in different countries have to finalize regulations governing flying drones in urban airspace before commercial projects could launch. You can easily realize that the various governmental agencies already are 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. They are not the sort of heavily armed drones used in military operations but rather the compact type with more features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps an initial step to robocops of the future with the authority of a real cop. As of this writing there are several companies already offering armed drones for crowd control with pepper-spray, rubber bullets, blinding lasers, ear-piercing audio and so forth. A drone built with high-definition cameras along with other light spectrum modes can quickly identify targets in real-time linked to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there’s an increasing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. The day may not be remote when police drones can launch missiles and other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard and not 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 to say that change is always bad, but we focus here on the effect it has on liberties and how some powerful groups reap the benefits of 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 just to get a false sense of security. That type of flawed logic has helped raise the monitoring, tracking, limiting freedom of citizens and increasing the power of the govporation because of its own agenda. Might know about be doing is find the root cause of why a conflict or event happened in the first place 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 probably 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 by 2014. One clear trend you can actually notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The marketplace capitalization is a good indicator of this though it is a bumpy ride with all the speculators involved. The Bitcoin market cap is currently around $4.3 billion, Ripple as another reaches $774 million and Litecoin as a third at $96 million. With economic and political issues affecting various countries on the planet, more people begin to hedge their bets on the national currencies and work with these crypto currencies that aren’t controlled by any government or entity. It is another exemplory case 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 pay the rotating credit repayments. The larger this burden, the lesser may be the freedom of the person to essentially follow his free will. The primary concern of the individual involved will be to adhere to the current job, not rock the boat at all and go through 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 capacity to restrict ways of trading which cannot be easily monitored, taxed and controlled. God forbid visitors to actually skip the middleman and deal directly with each other and change the machine 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 across the world. At least 20 of these fit the category war. As of 2015 the rise of conflict areas in per year is worrying since components of such are starting to find a way into the daily life of many people in stable communities. That in itself could be bad or good if it awakens people to reality and see why these things happen, the story in it and not just an indicator out of the blue. The following is really a limited list, in no particular order, of major ongoing conflicts which will keep 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 united states 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 within 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, struggling with 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 is also increasing.
– The Philippines where Moro people continue their struggle for independence.
– Somalia continues to possess problems arising out of fighting between your rebel Al-Shabaab group and the government forces. Part of it really is spilling over 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 among the conflicts. As the presidential force can be engaged in supporting autonomy struggles of two provinces in neighboring Sudan.
– bitcoin 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 almost all of the above conflict areas have a long violent history it is expected 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 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 online & ICANN
There are 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 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 it is important to understand what ICANN is, extracted from the ICANN website a brief introduction:
” To reach another person on the web you have to type an address into your computer – a name or perhaps a number. That address should be unique so computers know how to locate one another. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers around 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 across the world dedicated to keeping the web 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 usage of 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 Internet. “
Now with the push for ICANN to eliminate 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’ve seen what happens when the so called “free market” gets control, often people will not benefit from this but again those who can afford it in wealth and power will applaud it. It really is too much for this article to go over the limits of “free market” by those that 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 in the world where there’s none or hard to get online. Of-course it isn’t just because it creates their heart warm however they wish to also decide what people pay, see, do and get on “their” version of the internet. 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, even though some implemented a weak version of it under great pressure from the corporate lobby. So you might want to have a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.