Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people within their effort to protect their privacy have tried to create 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 stats. Add to that another powerful entity, the corporations, who within their pursuit of 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 simply not a prediction but an undeniable fact which is happening all over the world. The govporation use and deploy whatever it can to help keep the status quo regardless of the increasing gap between your common people and the few who own almost everything. Despite all the negativity most of us see, hear and read, there are always people within governments and corporations who do not agree with certain actions or policies. Hopefully that they can bring differ from the within by doing whatever they are able to to steer the ship to a better destiny. One cannot indicate a whole government or corporation and say everyone inside it has gone out to dictate life to the rest to serve holy profit.
Now the world has turned into a global digital community where a large percentage of individuals and devices are connected to this entity called the web. One of the ways the Internet enriches our lives is that we 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 was an instrument for collaboration between researchers and security issues were not on the mind map of developers. Any security mechanisms that we build today are retrofits attempting to cover the gaps. The web, or the web to be short, reaches into most modern devices in a single 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 may be 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 seize additional power and access. Shop around you and see the proceedings while reading this to comprehend we are not seeing a decrease of threats to people everywhere but a rise. 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 personal world of the “commoner”. The pressures to stop personal data will undoubtedly be immense and relentless. A significant defense for the people is awareness and try to set the boundary which governments, corporate bodies or anyone else must respect by real laws. Suitable laws should be enacted, you need to be aware of new developments and their consequences. As somebody once said; eternal vigil is the price one has to cover to maintain freedom. You don’t want to reside in an Orwellian world where “your government” watches your every move! Boundaries of your 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 way to go. It opens a giant can of worms that is a guaranteed ticket to a society we usually do not want. One reason is human nature as demonstrated countless times by history, not discussing the good kind. Another reason is that governments come and go just like the world keeps changing. When, not if, we enter another dark period in history it will be an electronic disaster as all of the data gathered is now available at the hands of evil. Innocent data does not exist, it is only a matter of the right time and the wrong hands to turn it 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 require to be watched for any specific reason. The reason could be good or bad, the method itself is flawed and can cause a lot of people to land in databases where they do not belong. The part of gathering data from as many sources as possible and automatically use it to categorize people is requesting 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 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 daily 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 just because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The usage of biometric data is to help determine the identity of individuals in an authentic manner, particularly if multiple sets of data are employed. For example, the passport documents of several 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 as well as what they need to determine the desirability of a person to enter the united states. Sadly enough the application of biometric data is now also applied on the streets and by third party organizations for different uses. Think of identifying someone 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 can 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 will get automatically identified as an unhealthy person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations among others are linking a lot more of their databases to form a giant worldwide database where a lot of folks have access. Some with not good intentions.
Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime
Think about 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 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 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. Many their operations are not reported with their own governments or only limited by a few people that are not allowed to state much. Among the reasons is that public figures can keep claiming you’ll find nothing to be worried about and life continues on for the normal man. Also traditional intelligence gathering shifted to economic intelligence to greatly 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. 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 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 also storing data on an area 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 kind 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 additionally government agencies are, with or without the understanding of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. That they gather plenty of information which has nothing to do with a legitimate target they are after is ignored. Everything is stored for future use. Now with the web of Things, IoT, it really is more important than ever before to implement proper security. Still it isn’t a warranty 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 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 though such progress is unwanted it cannot be stopped without destroying the web as it is and turning the world into one big surveillance state. Crime in 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 a no go. Perhaps it would benefit only the few who have a different agenda and need to spread fear to help keep people in line serving them.
Increase of Cyber Strikes, Disinformation & Infiltration
It seems to be getting normal to attack first and investigate later as that is “always” the best defense against those pesky enemies of the state; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation is being spread through “bought” news media outlets. Add to that infiltration of organizations along with other entities and we have been another step nearer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes are not as noticeable to the mass so they usually do not appear to be important enough to question or consider even if 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 can be the world we want to live 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 is regarded as almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and are argued by the government only. There is 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. Here 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 would be to stop terrorism and protect people which in itself is logical. The point is that there is forget about accountability for the people in this technique. These warrants are bound to improve and specific judges of FISA are likely to be amenable to issuing more of the 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. This is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and indicate others which are not. Many of the developed countries, particularly the ones growing into the “developed” club, certainly have such secret courts. bitcoin , 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 is apparently 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 even companies trying to dominate section of that job. As more and more people get “connected”, like on the Internet, their activities become noticeable to those who wish to monitor and track them. How or on what basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is often a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, there will be 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 and 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 while 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, 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 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. These are not the type 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 genuine 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 on. 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 is a growing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. Your day may not be remote when police drones can launch missiles along with other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard 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 saying that change is always bad, but we focus here on the result it is wearing 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 have to not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so difficult 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 because of its own agenda. What we should be doing is find the real 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. In the event that you still think in the end what has happened up to now and leaked to the public there is still no reason going to the alarm button then nothing else is going to 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 over the last few years. Bitcoin may be the most well-known of these while there have been 275 crypto currencies around by 2014. One clear trend you can easily notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The market capitalization is a wonderful 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 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 push back by starting to develop and offer alternatives to something which does not serve them anymore.
Cash Limits & Debt Increasing
Most developed countries, governments, float nowadays on credit while an increasing amount of citizens tell you their credit limits and start to live to cover the rotating credit repayments. The bigger this burden, the lesser is the freedom of the person to really follow his free will. The principal concern of the individual involved will be to stick to the current job, not rock the boat at all and go through the daily grind to guarantee the debt repayments happen. One very effective 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 means of trading which can’t be easily monitored, taxed and controlled. God forbid people to actually miss the middleman and deal directly with one another 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 all over the world. At least 20 of these fit the category war. By 2015 the rise of conflict areas in per 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 could be bad or good if it awakens people to reality and see why these things happen, the story behind them and not just a symptom out of the blue. The following is 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 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 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 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 overtaking a considerable part including a piece of Iraq.
– Iraq, struggling with the war against IS, assisted by a global coalition consisting of the united states, Arab countries, Iran and the EU. Religious violence between Sunnis and Shiites 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 federal government forces. Part of it really is spilling over to surrounding countries.
– South Sudan, created as a new country in 2010 2010 2010. There are two wars going on. Fight between your 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 contrary to the central government mixed with terror groups utilizing the country as their base of operations.
Although the majority of the above conflict areas have an extended violent history it is likely to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict isn’t 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 right into the “developed” countries club one must anticipate serious friction over market, influence, resources and territory. Internal conflicts, within countries, sometimes differ but often it involves a combination of one or more of the following causes: poor economy, corruption, police state, religious tensions, foreign influence, oppression, unpopular politics, extreme difference poor vs rich, racial inequality. The same old story for humanity as you might be thinking, yet 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 knowing that some of what they are doing is illegal or at 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 very important understand what ICANN is, taken from the ICANN website a short introduction:
” To reach another person on the Internet you need to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers around the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is just a not-for-profit partnership of 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 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 Internet. “
Now with the push for ICANN to remove itself from governmental oversight to a far 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 the lesser of evils until hopefully a better solution is found. We have seen what happens when the so called “free market” takes over, often people will not benefit from this but again those who are able 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 who control it but be confident we will do so in a new article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon among others intend to provide internet services to poor regions on earth where there’s none or hard to obtain online. Of-course it is not just because it creates their heart warm however they wish to also decide what people pay, see, do and obtain 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, even though some implemented a weak version of it under great pressure from the corporate lobby. So you might want to take a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.