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 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 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 done common agenda. Increasingly bypassing laws designed to protect folks from unreasonable interference in their life.
The line between governments and corporations is fading away. This is not a prediction but an undeniable fact which is happening across the world. The govporation use and deploy whatever it could to help keep the status quo despite the increasing gap between the common people and the few who own almost anything. Despite all the negativity we all see, hear and read, there are always people within governments and corporations who usually do not agree with certain actions or policies. We hope that they can bring differ from the inside 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 in it is out to dictate life to the others to serve holy profit.
Now the world has developed into global digital community where a large percentage of people and devices are linked to this entity called the web. One of the ways the Internet enriches our lives is that we can reach anyone with this net wherever they are. But then, 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 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 a single 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’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 seize additional power and access. Shop around you and see what is going on while reading this to comprehend we have been not seeing a decrease of threats to people everywhere but an increase. The additional power 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 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. A significant defense for the people is awareness and make an effort 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 cover 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 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 giant can of worms which 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 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 human 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 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 currently part of lifestyle whether you like it or not. Such profiling is used to narrow down targets that need 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 people to land in databases where they don’t belong. The section of gathering data from as much sources as you possibly can and automatically utilize 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 have increasing pressure to combine 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 available today, 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
Using biometric data is to help determine the identity of individuals 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 need to determine the desirability of an individual to enter the united states. Sadly enough the usage of biometric data is currently also applied on the streets and by third party organizations for different uses. Think of identifying someone 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 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 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 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 are 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 info 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 far away does the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. A lot of their operations are not reported to their own governments or only limited by a few people who are not allowed to say much. Among the reasons is that public figures will keep claiming there is nothing to be worried 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 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’re probably already being monitored and categorized in a few database. Sorry to break it to 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 instead of leaving it in the clear. This goes for exchanging data but also storing data on an area computer ranging from tablets, phones, desktops to servers. The awakening of the general public is now also forcing a great deal of 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 is 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. They gather plenty of information which has nothing in connection with a legitimate target they are 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 is not a warranty as other events show how shady agencies influence companies to weaken their product security to allow them quick access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing because of 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’ll 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 always be part of humanity to handle, so using this as grounds to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is a no go. Perhaps it could 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 is “always” the 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 and other entities and we have been another step closer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes are not as visible to the mass so they usually do not seem to be important enough to question or consider even though they get reported. Some media outlets spread disinformation on command, another exemplory case of the govporation complex. The question is what’s accomplished beside making 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 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 this 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 regarded as almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and so are argued by the government only. You will find 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 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 would be to stop terrorism and protect people which alone is logical. The point is that there is no more accountability for individuals in this process. These warrants are bound to increase and specific judges of FISA are likely to be amenable to issuing more of these authorizations. The authorizations often allow massive amounts 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. That is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and point to others which are not. A lot of the developed countries, specially 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 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 even companies trying to take over 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 which 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 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 as well as know such entry exists in a few database. The broader powers the govporation complex gets the more entities will undoubtedly 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 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 really is feasible. Drones that have capability to reach the desired addresses are feasible today. However, authorities in different countries have to finalize regulations governing flying drones in urban airspace before commercial projects could launch. It is easy to realize that the many governmental agencies already are increasing the urban usage of flying drones for surveillance and monitoring purposes. Beside that it plays a part in 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 found in military operations but instead 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 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 easily identify targets in real-time linked to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there is 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 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 technical analysis 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 every major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do just what we have to not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so hard for in the past merely 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 for its own agenda. What we should be doing is discover the root cause of why a conflict or event happened in the first place and learn from it rather than just fighting the outward symptoms as usual. If you still think after all what has happened up to now and leaked to the general public there’s still no reason going to the alarm button then nothing else is going to change your view until it really is too late. Perhaps it is too late.
The Rise Of Crypto Currencies
Several crypto currencies attended into existence over the last few years. Bitcoin is the most well-known of the while there were 275 crypto currencies around as of 2014. One clear trend you can easily notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The market capitalization is an effective indicator of this although it is a bumpy ride with all the speculators involved. The Bitcoin market cap is currently around $4.3 billion, Ripple as another is at $774 million and Litecoin as a third at $96 million. With economic and political issues affecting various countries on the planet, 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 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 a growing amount of citizens tell you their credit limits and start to live to cover the rotating credit repayments. The bigger this burden, the lesser is the freedom of the person to essentially follow his free will. The primary concern of the individual involved will be to adhere to the existing job, not rock the boat at all and go through the daily grind to ensure 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 necessary for those in power to restrict means 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 end of year 2013, The Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK) reported the existence of some 400 conflicts everywhere. 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 many people in stable communities. That alone 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 an indicator out of the blue. The following is 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 try to introduce Sharia law, keeps attacking moderate Muslims and Christians.
– Sudan, where groups of mixed ethnic origin are fighting with government forces and each other.
– 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 US 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 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 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 one of the conflicts. While the presidential force can be 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 using the country as their base of operations.
Although most of the above conflict areas have a long violent history it is likely to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict isn’t directly expected. Economic disparities have always been reasons for flare-ups throughout history. Given 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 next 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 might be thinking, just 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 working 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, extracted from the ICANN website a brief introduction:
” To reach another person on the net you must type an address into your personal computer – a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know how to locate 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 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 on the Internet. It cannot stop spam also 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 Internet. “
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 future years of the internet since it exists now. Of-course it really is currently choosing between the lesser of evils until hopefully an improved solution is found. We’ve seen what happens once the so called “free market” gets control, 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 who control it but rest assured we will do so in a fresh article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others intend to provide internet services to poor regions on the globe where there’s none or hard to obtain online. Of-course it is not just because it makes 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 for the internet as it is now. This is also why some countries went ahead to fix net neutrality by law, even though some implemented a weak version of it under great pressure from the corporate lobby. So you may want to take a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.