Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people in their effort to protect 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 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 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 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 will use and deploy whatever it can to keep the status quo regardless of the increasing gap between the common people and the few who own almost everything. Despite all the negativity most of us see, hear and read, you can find always people within governments and corporations who usually do not trust certain actions or policies. We hope that they can bring differ from the inside by doing whatever they are able to to steer the ship to an improved destiny. One cannot point to a complete government or corporation and say everyone in it is out to dictate life to the rest to serve holy profit.
Now the world has turned into a global digital community in which a large percentage of individuals and devices are connected to this entity called the Internet. One of the ways the web 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 was an instrument for collaboration between researchers and security issues were not on the mind map of developers. Any security mechanisms that people build today are retrofits attempting to cover the gaps. The internet, or the web to be short, reaches into most modern devices in one way or the other. It’s in your own home, office, outside “watching” you as well as on your own body as a wearable. More worrisome is the rise of intelligent mobile technology that is potentially high-risk whether you’re in the 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 comprehend we are not seeing a loss of threats to people everywhere but a rise. The additional power to monitor your lives in-depth will be justified through certain, man-made, events and technical developments. The threat is not only to privacy anymore but to life and limb. We will check out several current and upcoming developments which impact the personal world of the “commoner”. The pressures to stop personal data will be immense and relentless. An important defense for individuals is awareness and try to set the boundary which governments, corporate bodies or anyone else 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 may be the price one has to pay to maintain freedom. You don’t want to live in an Orwellian world where “big brother” watches your every move! Boundaries of one’s privacy need to be guarded zealously.
Assuming by default that everyone is 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 do not want. One reason is human nature as demonstrated countless times by history, not talking about the good kind. Another reason is that governments come and go just like 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 offered by the hands of evil. Innocent data does not exist, it is just a matter of the right time and the wrong 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 can be used to narrow down targets that need to be watched for any specific reason. The reason may be good or bad, the technique itself is flawed and can cause a lot of people to land in databases where they don’t belong. The part of gathering data from as many sources as possible and automatically use it to categorize people is asking for problems. Now that humongous levels of data can be easily analyzed and computer technology provides the tools to control this “big data” you will see 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 on the market, it will be simple 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
Using biometric data would be to help determine the identity of individuals in an authentic manner, particularly when multiple sets of data are used. For example, 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 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 alternative party organizations for different uses. Think about 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 lot of false positives. You may 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 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 a lot of 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 concerning 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 availability 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 merely the NSA, basically any similar agency in other countries does the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. Lots of their operations aren’t reported with their own governments or only limited by a few people that are not allowed to say much. Among the reasons is that public figures can keep claiming there is nothing to worry about and life goes on for the normal 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’re 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 solution to the general public to use encryption software to secure data instead of leaving it in the clear. This applies to exchanging data but additionally storing data on a local computer ranging from tablets, phones, desktops to servers. The awakening of the general public is now also forcing lots of companies to start implementing some type 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 is the new priority target to intercept data. Not only criminals but also government agencies are, with or without the understanding of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. 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 web of Things, IoT, it 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 allow them easy access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing because of the cooperation of worldwide communities of individuals and is an alternative to “blackboxes”. Coupled 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 can’t be stopped without destroying the web since it is and turning the world into one big surveillance state. Crime in all its forms and shapes will 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’ve 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 the state; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation has been spread through “bought” press outlets. Increase 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 usually do not seem 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 creating a potential situation worse by pre-emptive strikes, corrupting news media 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 reside in or do we need to make changes.
More Secret Courts
Here we take as an example the U.S secret courts but this 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 considered to be almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and 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 appeal to the Supreme court. It is 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 improve and specific judges of FISA will tend to be amenable to issuing more of the 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. That is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and indicate others which are not. Most of the developed countries, particularly the ones growing into the “developed” club, certainly have such secret courts. The troublesome part, beside legality, may be the usage of such data for more control and economic espionage on everyone. The old mission to safeguard and serve the people appears 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 section of that job. As increasing numbers of people get “connected”, like on the web, their activities become noticeable to those who would like 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 potential for 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 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. Right now everyone who critically followed worldwide developments can predict a “threat” could be based 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. Which could or might not become reality, but it clearly demonstrates that this commercial behemoth thinks it really 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 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 found in military operations but rather the compact type with more features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps a first step to robocops into the future with the authority of a real cop. Around 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 along with other light spectrum modes can easily identify targets in real-time connected to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there is a growing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. The day may not be far off when police drones can launch missiles along with other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard and not in a far 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 definitely bad, but we focus here on the effect it has on liberties and how some powerful groups reap the benefits of it. After each major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do just what we should not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so difficult for in the past merely to get yourself a false sense of security. That type of flawed logic has helped increase 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 rather than just fighting the outward symptoms as usual. If you still think in the end what has happened so far and leaked to the general 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 is too late.
The Rise Of Crypto Currencies
Several crypto currencies have come into existence during the last few years. Bitcoin may be the most well-known of the while there have been 275 crypto currencies in existence as of 2014. One clear trend it is simple to notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The market capitalization is an effective indicator of this though it is a bumpy ride with all the 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 in the world, more people begin 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 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 run through their credit limits and start to live to cover the rotating credit repayments. The bigger 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 stick to the existing job, not rock the boat at all and feel the daily grind to ensure the debt repayments happen. One very effective method 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 people to actually miss the middleman and deal directly with one another 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 all over the world. At least 20 of these fit the category war. As of 2015 the rise of conflict areas in a year is worrying since components of such are starting to find a way into the daily life of several people in stable communities. That in itself can be bad or good if it awakens people to reality and see why these exact 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 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 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 each other.
– 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 taking over a considerable part including a piece 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 your 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 probably the conflicts. As 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 a lot of the above conflict areas have an extended violent history it is expected 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. Given 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, yet another flavor and color.
Corporate Influence on the net & ICANN
There are 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 knowing 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 brief introduction:
” To reach another person on the web you will need to type an address into your personal computer – a name or perhaps a number. That address needs to 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. It is just a not-for-profit partnership of individuals from worldwide 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 on the net. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with usage of the Internet. But through Bitcoin Revolution Site of the Internet’s naming system, it can have an important effect on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. “
Now with the push for ICANN to eliminate itself from governmental oversight to a more corporate setting it is even more worrying for the future of the internet as it exists now. Of-course it really is currently choosing between your lesser of evils until hopefully a better solution is found. We have seen what happens when the so called “free market” gets control, often people will not benefit from 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 who control it but rest assured we will achieve this in a new article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others plan to provide internet services to poor regions in the world where there is none or hard to obtain online. Of-course it is not just because it creates their heart warm but they wish to also decide what folks 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. This is also why some countries went ahead to fix net neutrality by law, although 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.