Governance of countries, throughout history, has always depended on monitoring and tracking its citizens. Common people within their effort to safeguard their privacy have tried to set a boundary to what could possibly 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 stats. Add to that another powerful entity, the corporations, who within their quest for 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 within their life.
The line between governments and corporations is fading away. This is simply not a prediction but an undeniable fact which is happening everywhere. The govporation will use and deploy whatever it can to keep the status quo regardless of the increasing gap between your common people and the few who own almost anything. Despite all the negativity most of us see, hear and read, you can find always people within governments and corporations who do not trust certain actions or policies. Hopefully that they can bring change from the inside by doing whatever they can 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 where a large percentage of individuals and devices are linked to this entity called the web. One of the ways the web enriches our lives is that people 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 life. When it started, it was an instrument for collaboration between researchers and security issues weren’t on the mind map of developers. Any security mechanisms that people build today are retrofits trying to cover the gaps. The internet, or the web to be short, reaches into most modern devices in a single way or another. 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 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 the proceedings while reading this to comprehend we are not seeing a decrease 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 just to privacy anymore but alive and limb. We will have a look at several current and upcoming developments which impact the personal world of the “commoner”. The pressures to give up personal data will undoubtedly 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 will have to be enacted, you will have 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 reside in an Orwellian world where “your government” watches your every move! Boundaries of your privacy ought to be guarded zealously.
Assuming by default that everyone is a threat and therefor justifying total surveillance and control of individuals 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 talking about 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 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 incorrect hands to turn it into a weapon.
Automated Multi Source Profiling
Automated multi source profiling is now part of lifestyle whether you prefer it or not. Such profiling can be used to narrow down targets that require to be watched for 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 don’t belong. The section of gathering data from as many sources as you possibly can and automatically utilize it to categorize people is asking for problems. Now that humongous amounts of data could be easily analyzed and computer technology provides the tools to manage this “big data” you will see increasing pressure to mix databases from many sources. Data gathered from government branches, commercial parties to non-profit organizations providing another piece of the puzzle about your 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 just because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The use of biometric data would be to help determine the identity of people 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 along with what they have to determine the desirability of a person to enter the country. Sadly enough the application of biometric data is currently also applied on the streets and by alternative 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 can be remotely identified by face recognition camera’s without reason. Many experts have accused biometric data of raising a lot of false positives. You can find automatically identified as an undesirable person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations among others are linking more and 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
Think about the recent spate of news about 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 about the widespread mass surveillance. Not merely have they been monitoring domestic citizens, they have been cited for snooping on people and political parties in other countries. No doubt, the extensive option of internet technologies and the reach of the web have made these activities possible. That some well-known whistle-blowers could access the data acquired by NSA, is a testimony that even intelligence agencies have difficulties protecting their operations and data against the human factor. It’s of-course not merely the NSA, basically any similar agency in other countries does the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. A great deal of their operations are not reported with 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 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 amount 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 for you.
Hardware Bigger Target
There is a trend which is slowly finding its way to the general public to utilize 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 many companies to start implementing some type of encryption and privacy rules. That is encouraging but not enough, especially the dominating corporations will always find 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 additionally 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 to do with a legitimate target they’re after is ignored. Everything is stored for future use. Now with the Internet of Things, IoT, it really is more important than ever to implement proper security. Still it isn’t a guarantee as other events show how shady agencies influence companies to weaken their product security to permit them 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 will 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 since it is and turning the planet into one big surveillance state. Crime in all its forms and shapes will be part of humanity to cope with, so using this as a reason to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is really a no go. Perhaps it would benefit only the few who have a different agenda and need to spread fear to help 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 the state; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation has been spread through “bought” news media outlets. Increase that infiltration of organizations along with other entities and we have been another step nearer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes aren’t 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 exemplory case of the govporation complex. The question is what is 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 the world we want to reside in or do we have to make changes.
More Secret Courts
Here we take including 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 is regarded as almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and so are argued by the government only. There exists a review process to appeal decisions of the FISA court but they are few and far between. Not just one case has gone in appeal to the Supreme court. 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 official story is to stop terrorism and protect people which in itself is logical. The main 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 the authorizations. The authorizations often allow massive amounts of data to be supplied to the NSA along with 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. A lot 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 use of such data for more control and economic espionage on everyone. The old mission to safeguard and serve the people seems to be getting less important with each passing year.
More Threat Branding
It is no secret that many entities come under the scanner of government agencies and also companies trying to dominate part of that job. As increasing numbers of people get “connected”, like online, their activities become visible to those who want to monitor and track them. How or on which basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is usually a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, you will see higher potential for getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the newest technologies it is easy to get tagged as a threat but extremely difficult 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 be branded as a potential threat. By now everyone who critically followed worldwide developments can predict that a “threat” could be predicated on economic motivation or perhaps 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 may not become reality, but it clearly demonstrates that this commercial behemoth thinks it is feasible. Drones that have capability to reach the desired addresses are feasible today. However, authorities in various 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 are already increasing the urban usage of flying drones for surveillance and monitoring purposes. Beside that it contributes to mass-surveillance, a worrying development is arming drones with lethal and non-lethal weapons for use against civilians. These are not the kind of heavily armed drones found in military operations but instead the compact type with an increase of features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps a first step to robocops into the future with the authority of a genuine cop. As of this writing there are numerous 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 connected to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there’s an increasing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. Your day may not be far off when police drones can launch missiles and other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard rather than in a far away country.
World Events Impact Liberties
Today’s world is quickly changing with each negative event speeding up certain unpopular agendas. Not to say that change is definitely bad, but we focus here on the result it has on liberties and how some powerful groups benefit from it. After each major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do exactly what we ought to not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so difficult for in the past just to get a false sense of security. That type of flawed logic has helped increase 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 root cause of why a conflict or event happened in the first place and learn from it rather than just fighting the symptoms as usual. If you still think in the end what has happened up to now 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 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 the while there were 275 crypto currencies in existence as of 2014. One clear trend it is simple to 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 happens to be around $4.3 billion, Ripple as a second reaches $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 aren’t controlled by any government or entity. It is another example of how people push back by starting to develop and offer alternatives to something which will not serve them anymore.
Cash Limits & Debt Increasing
Most developed countries, governments, float nowadays on credit while a growing amount of citizens run through their credit limits and start to live to pay 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 person involved will be to adhere 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 way of control is to have greater burdens on everybody’s shoulders. To keep that control it is important for those in power to restrict ways of trading which can’t be easily monitored, taxed and controlled. God forbid people to actually miss the middleman and deal directly with one another and change the system from within.
Worldwide Increase of Conflicts
By the finish 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 the fit the category war. By 2015 the rise of conflict areas in per year is worrying since components of such are starting to discover 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 things happen, the story in it and not just an indicator 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 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 within 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 one another.
– The long bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine with no real solution in sight.
– Afghanistan, remains a war zone of fighting between government forces, assisted by the united states mostly, and the Taliban.
– Unstable Pakistani border with Afghanistan and increasing drone strikes on extremist groups.
– Mexico, remains the hotbed of drug-wars, human trafficking, blackmail and smuggling by the drug cartels.
– Syria, the civil war continues to rage on with the terror group IS overtaking a considerable part including a piece of Iraq.
– Iraq, struggling with the war against IS, assisted by a global 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 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.
– Bitcoin Revolution Review 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 isn’t directly expected. Economic disparities have always been 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 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 Internet & ICANN
There are major developments in the digital world that indicate the increasing dominance of major corporations on the internet. They are closely dealing with multiple governments on policies, shared projects and sharing data. Most willingly cooperate despite realizing that some of what they are doing is illegal or at least very unethical. But holy profit, power and status is something shared by both parties giving it the name “the govporation”. Before we continue you should understand what ICANN is, extracted from the ICANN website a short introduction:
” To reach another person online you must type an address into your personal computer – a name or perhaps a number. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. 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 a not-for-profit partnership of individuals from everywhere 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 Internet. It cannot stop spam also it doesn’t deal with usage of the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important effect on the expansion and evolution of the web. “
Now with the push for ICANN to remove itself from governmental oversight to a more corporate setting it is even more worrying for future years 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’ve seen what happens once 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 go over the limits of “free market” by those who control it but rest assured we will do so in a new 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 obtain online. Of-course it is not just because it creates their heart warm but they wish to also decide what people pay, see, do and get on “their” version of the web. Exactly like what the lobby of corporate groups wants for the internet as it is now. That 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 might want to have a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.