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 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 ensure their profit targets are met. History shows businesses and governing powers have often worked on common agenda. Increasingly bypassing laws designed to protect people from unreasonable interference within their life.
The line between governments and corporations is fading away. This is not a prediction but a fact which is happening across the world. The govporation will 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 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 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 individuals and devices are connected to this entity called the Internet. One of the ways the Internet enriches our lives is that we can reach anyone on this net wherever they are. But then, do not forget that when you can reach anyone easily, others can reach you equally easily and dig into your life. When it started, it had been a tool for collaboration between researchers and security issues weren’t on your brain map of developers. Any security mechanisms that we build today are retrofits attempting to cover the gaps. The internet, or the web to be short, reaches into modern devices in one way or another. It’s in your house, 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 are 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 understand we are not seeing a loss of threats to people everywhere but a rise. The additional power to monitor your lives in-depth will undoubtedly be justified through certain, man-made, events and technical developments. The threat is not 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 individuals is awareness and make an effort to set the boundary which governments, corporate bodies or other people must respect by real laws. Suitable laws should be enacted, you need to be aware of new developments and their consequences. As somebody once said; eternal vigil is the price one has to pay to maintain freedom. You do not 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 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 usually do not want. One reason is human nature as demonstrated countless times by history, not talking about the nice 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 a digital disaster as all of the data gathered is now offered by the hands of evil. Innocent data will not exist, it is only a matter of the proper time and the wrong hands to turn it right into a weapon.
Automated Multi Source Profiling
Automated multi source profiling is now part of daily life whether you like 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 technique 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 much sources as you possibly can and automatically use it to categorize people is asking for problems. Now that humongous levels of data can be easily analyzed and computer technology supplies the tools to manage this “big data” there will be increasing pressure to combine databases from many sources. Bitcoin Revolution gathered from government branches, commercial parties to non-profit organizations providing another piece of the puzzle about your daily life. With the technologies available today, it will be easy to collect, merge and manage the info about an individual. That all is collected without reason, innocent or not, for profit or just because it is possible.
Biometric Data Sharing
The utilization 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 united states biometric database in addition to what they have to determine the desirability of a person to enter the united states. Sadly enough the use of biometric data is now also applied on the streets and by third party organizations for different uses. Think about identifying somebody 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 will get automatically identified as an unhealthy person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations among others are linking a growing 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 about the NSA snooping. Although for a lot of this was not a surprise, for other people who always called worried citizens tinfoil crazies, it is embarrassing by all the revelations about the widespread mass surveillance. Not only 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 Internet 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 against the human factor. It’s of-course not only the NSA, basically any similar agency in other countries does exactly the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. A great deal of their operations aren’t reported with their own governments or only limited by a few people who are not allowed to state much. Among the reasons is that public figures will keep claiming you’ll find nothing to worry about and life goes on for the common man. Also traditional intelligence gathering shifted to economic intelligence to greatly help the own economy. In commercial terms it’s called business intelligence but when it comes to the amount of secret agencies it goes beyond the known horizon. Many people are a target, just by scanning this article you are 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 utilize 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 which range 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 however, 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 additionally government agencies are, with or minus the knowledge 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 are 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 easy access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing thanks to 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 the through X to B. Even if such progress is unwanted it can’t 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 manage, so using this as grounds to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is a no go. Perhaps it would benefit only the few who have a different agenda and have to spread fear to 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 very best defense against those pesky enemies of hawaii; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation is being spread through “bought” press outlets. Increase that infiltration of organizations and other entities and we are another step closer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes aren’t as noticeable to the mass so they usually 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 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 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 considered to be almost a parallel supreme court today. Here the cases are completely one sided and are argued by the federal government only. You will find 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. 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 official 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 increase and specific judges of FISA are likely to be amenable to issuing more of the authorizations. The authorizations often allow massive levels of data to be supplied to the NSA along with other agencies by telecom operators. In its rulings the court often assumes questions about constitutional validity and delivers interpretations which never undergo any public scrutiny. This is happening especially in the countries which always boast about their democracy and indicate others which are not. Many of the developed countries, specially the ones growing into the “developed” club, certainly have such secret courts. The troublesome part, beside legality, is 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 many entities come beneath 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 net, their activities become noticeable to those who want to monitor and track them. How or on what basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is often a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, there will be higher potential for getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the current newest technologies you can easily get tagged as a threat but almost impossible to fight against it and even 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 that a “threat” could be predicated on economic motivation or perhaps asking the “wrong” questions, even as a journalist.
Weaponized Urban Drones
Amazon has announced that it’ll be delivering products bought by its customers through drones. That could or might not become reality, 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 various countries need to finalize regulations governing flying drones in urban airspace before commercial projects could launch. It is easy to realize that the various governmental agencies already are increasing the urban usage of flying drones for surveillance and monitoring purposes. Beside that it contributes to mass-surveillance, a worrying development is arming drones with lethal and non-lethal weapons for use against civilians. These are not the type of heavily armed drones found in military operations but rather the compact type with an increase of features fitting an urban setting. Perhaps an initial step to robocops into the future with the authority of a real cop. As of this writing there are many 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 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. Your day may not be remote when police drones can launch missiles and other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard and not in a a long way away country.
World Events Impact Liberties
Today’s world is fast 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 is wearing liberties and how some powerful groups benefit from it. After every major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do exactly what we should not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so hard for in the past merely to get yourself a false sense of security. That sort of flawed logic has helped raise the monitoring, tracking, limiting freedom of citizens and increasing the power of the govporation because of its own agenda. Might know about be doing is 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 in the end what has happened so far and leaked to the general public there’s still no reason going to the alarm button then nothing else will probably 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 may be the most well-known of the while there have been 275 crypto currencies in existence as of 2014. One clear trend you can easily notice is their popularity is steadily increasing. The marketplace capitalization is a great indicator of this although it is a bumpy ride with 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 in the world, more people begin to hedge their bets on the national currencies and work with these crypto currencies that aren’t controlled by any government or entity. It is another exemplory case of how people 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 tell you their credit limits and start to live to cover the rotating credit repayments. The larger this burden, the lesser may be the freedom of the person to essentially follow his free will. The principal 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 is to have greater burdens on everybody’s shoulders. To keep that control it is important for those in capacity 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 the fit the category war. By 2015 the rise of conflict areas in a year is worrying since elements of such are starting to discover a way into the daily life of several people in stable communities. That alone could be bad or good if it awakens people to reality and see why these exact things happen, the story behind them and not just an indicator out of the blue. The next 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 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 attempt to introduce Sharia law, keeps attacking moderate Muslims and Christians.
– Sudan, where sets of mixed ethnic origin are fighting with government forces and one another.
– The long bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine 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 taking over 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 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. There are two wars going on. Fight between your ex-vice president’s and the president’s forces is one of 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 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 expected to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict is not directly expected. Economic disparities have always been known reasons for flare-ups throughout history. Now that the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) break into the “developed” countries club one must anticipate serious friction over market, influence, resources and territory. Internal conflicts, within countries, sometimes differ but often it involves a variety of one or more of the 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 may be thinking, yet another flavor and color.
Corporate Influence on the web & 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 knowing that some of what they’re 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 brief introduction:
” To reach another person online you have to type an address into your personal computer – a name or a number. That address should be unique so computers know how to locate one another. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers around the world. Without that coordination we wouldn’t have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is just a not-for-profit partnership of people from across the world 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 net. It cannot stop spam also it doesn’t deal with usage of the web. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. “
Now with the push for ICANN to eliminate itself from governmental oversight to a more corporate setting it is a lot more worrying for the future of the internet since it exists now. Of-course it is currently choosing between the lesser of evils until hopefully a better solution is found. We’ve seen what happens when the so called “free market” takes over, often people will not reap the benefits of this but again those that can afford it in wealth and power will applaud it. It is too much for this article to discuss the limits of “free market” by those that control it but rest assured we will do so 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 makes their heart warm however 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 repair 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.