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 made it possible to reach further in to the lives of common people and their personal stats. Increase that another powerful entity, the corporations, who within their quest for holy profit have tried to learn 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 designed 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 a fact which is happening worldwide. 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 everything. Despite all the negativity most of us see, hear and read, you can find always people within governments and corporations who usually do not agree with certain actions or policies. Hopefully that they can bring change from the inside by doing whatever they can to steer the ship to a better destiny. One cannot indicate a whole government or corporation and say everyone inside it is out to dictate life to the others to serve holy profit.
Now the world has developed into global digital community in which a large percentage of individuals and devices are linked to this entity called the web. One of the ways the Internet enriches our lives is that people can reach anyone on this net wherever they are. But, do not forget that if you can reach anyone easily, others can reach you equally easily and dig into your life. When it started, it had been an instrument for collaboration between researchers and security issues were not on your brain map of developers. Any security mechanisms that we build today are retrofits attempting to cover the gaps. The internet, or the net to be short, reaches into most modern devices in one way or the other. It’s in your house, office, outside “watching” you as well as 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 grab additional power and access. Look around you and see the proceedings while reading this to understand we are 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 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 stop 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 familiar with new developments and their consequences. As somebody once said; eternal vigil may be the price one has to pay to maintain freedom. You do not want to reside 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 ideal solution. It opens a giant can of worms that is a guaranteed ticket to a society we do not want. One reason is human nature as demonstrated countless times by history, not discussing 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 the data gathered is now available at the hands of evil. Innocent data does 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 currently part of daily life 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 method itself is flawed and can cause a lot of people to land in databases where they do not belong. The section of gathering data from as many sources as possible and automatically utilize it to categorize people is requesting problems. Now that humongous amounts of data could be easily analyzed and computer technology provides the tools to manage 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 daily life. With the technologies on the market, 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
The application 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 need to determine the desirability of a person to enter the united states. Sadly enough the usage of biometric data is now also applied on the streets and by alternative 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 lot of false positives. You may get automatically identified as an undesirable person grounding your travel plans or worse. Remember, countries, corporations among others are linking increasingly more of their databases to create a giant worldwide database in which a lot of people 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 the revelations about the widespread mass surveillance. Not merely have they been monitoring domestic citizens, they are cited for snooping on people and political parties in other countries. No doubt, the extensive availability of internet technologies and the reach of the web have made these activities possible. That some well-known whistle-blowers could access the data acquired by NSA, is a testimony that even intelligence agencies have difficulties protecting their operations and data contrary to the human factor. It’s of-course not only the NSA, basically any similar agency in other countries does the same. Where possible they cooperate with others or go at it alone. Plenty of their operations are not reported with their own governments or only limited to a few people who are not allowed to say much. One of the reasons is that public figures will keep claiming you’ll find nothing to worry about and life goes 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 but when it comes to the level 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 some database. Sorry to break it for you.
Hardware Bigger Target
There is a trend that is slowly finding its way to the general public to use encryption software to secure data rather than 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 a lot of companies to start implementing some kind of encryption and privacy rules. This is encouraging however, 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 demonstrates hardware is the new priority target to intercept data. Not just criminals but also government agencies are, with or without the understanding of manufacturers, rigging products to spy on the end-user. They gather a huge amount of information which has nothing 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 warranty as other events show how shady agencies influence companies to weaken their product security to allow them easy access. Open-source hardware and software is advancing because of the cooperation of worldwide communities of people 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 cannot be stopped without destroying the web since it is and turning the world into one big surveillance state. Crime in every its forms and shapes will always be part of humanity to manage, so using this as a reason to sacrifice freedom, progress and alternatives is a no go. Perhaps it could benefit only the few who’ve a different agenda and need to spread fear to 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 the state; pre-emptive cyber strikes against other countries are increasing while disinformation is being spread through “bought” news media outlets. Increase that infiltration of organizations and other entities and we are another step nearer to perfect Orwellian societies. Cyber strikes are not as visible to the mass so they do not seem 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 creating a potential situation worse by pre-emptive strikes, corrupting press for hidden agendas and spreading distrust in society by more infiltrations? By knowing the why and who society can determine if this can be a world we want to reside in or do we need to make changes.
More Secret Courts
Here we take including the U.S secret courts but that 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 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 appeal to the Supreme court. Here is the court that issues warrants for (mass)surveillance including phone taps on individuals. The extent of these 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 forget about accountability for individuals in this technique. These warrants are bound to improve and specific judges of FISA will tend to be amenable to issuing more of these 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 point to others which are not. Lots of the developed countries, particularly the ones growing in to 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 under the scanner of government agencies and even companies trying to dominate part of that job. As more and more people get “connected”, like on the net, their activities become noticeable to those who would like to monitor and track them. How or on what basis any entity is dubbed a “potential threat” is usually a subjective thing. Unless these decision makers have strict checks and balances, you will have higher prospect of getting dubbed a potentially disruptive influence by someone. Now with all the newest technologies it is easy to get tagged as a threat but almost impossible to fight against it or even know such entry exists in some database. The broader powers the govporation complex gets the more entities will be branded as a potential threat. Right now everyone who critically followed worldwide developments can predict a “threat” could be 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. That could or may not become reality, but it clearly demonstrates that this 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. You can easily realize that the various governmental agencies are already increasing the urban use of flying drones for surveillance and monitoring purposes. Beside that it contributes to mass-surveillance, a worrying development is arming drones with lethal and non-lethal weapons for use against civilians. These are not the kind of heavily armed drones found 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. Around this writing there are various companies already offering armed drones for crowd control with pepper-spray, rubber bullets, blinding lasers, ear-piercing audio etc. A drone built with high-definition cameras along with other light spectrum modes can easily identify targets in real-time connected to some mainframe. Several experts conclude there’s a growing trend of militarizing police forces and extending their capability with drones. The day may not be far off when police drones can launch missiles and other projectiles on a crowd in its mission area, in your backyard rather than 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 always bad, but we focus here on the result it has on liberties and how some powerful groups reap the benefits of it. After each major event like 9/11, wars in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, regional bloody revolutions with or without foreign influence, we do exactly what we have to not do; sacrifice liberties we fought so difficult for in the past just to get yourself 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. Might know about be doing is discover the real 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 so far and leaked to the general 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 really is too late.
The Rise Of Crypto Currencies
Several crypto currencies have come into existence during the last few years. coincapcentral is the most well-known of these while there were 275 crypto currencies in existence by 2014. One clear trend you can actually 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 current 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 globe, more people start to hedge their bets on the national currencies and use these crypto currencies that are not controlled by any government or entity. It really is another example of how people rebel 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 pay the rotating credit repayments. The bigger this burden, the lesser may be the freedom of the person to really follow his free will. The principal concern of the person involved will be to adhere to the existing job, not rock the boat at all and feel the daily grind to ensure the debt repayments happen. One very effective method of control would be to have greater burdens on everybody’s shoulders. To help keep that control it is crucial 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 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 around the globe. 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 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 a symptom out of the blue. The next is really a limited list, in no particular order, of major ongoing conflicts which keeps growing:
– Democratic Republic of Congo, where the army of the ruling government is fighting with the M23 rebel group and religious tensions are flaring up between Christians and Muslims.
– Mali, where Islamist rebels are actively 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 attempt 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 with no real solution in sight.
– Afghanistan, remains a war zone of fighting between government forces, assisted by the united states mostly, and the Taliban.
– Unstable Pakistani border with Afghanistan and increasing drone strikes on extremist groups.
– Mexico, remains the hotbed of drug-wars, human trafficking, blackmail and smuggling by the drug cartels.
– Syria, the civil war continues to rage on with the terror group IS taking over a considerable part including a piece of Iraq.
– Iraq, struggling with the war against IS, assisted by an international coalition consisting of the united states, Arab countries, Iran and the EU. Religious violence between Sunnis and Shiites can be increasing.
– The Philippines where Moro people continue their struggle for independence.
– Somalia continues to 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 this year 2010 2010. There are two wars going on. Fight between the ex-vice president’s and the president’s forces is among the conflicts. As the presidential force is also engaged in supporting autonomy struggles of two provinces in neighboring Sudan.
– North Korea and South Korea, occasional skirmishes and technically still in war.
– Yemen, rebel groups fighting against the central government blended with terror groups using the country as their base of operations.
Although almost all of the above conflict areas have an extended violent history it is expected to see new conflict in regions or countries where conflict is not directly expected. Economic disparities will always be reasons for flare-ups throughout history. Given that the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) break into the “developed” countries club one must anticipate serious friction over market, influence, resources and territory. Internal conflicts, within countries, sometimes differ but often it involves a combination 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, just another flavor and color.
Corporate Influence online & 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 it is very important understand what ICANN is, taken from the ICANN website a short introduction:
” To reach another person on the net you must type an address into your computer – a name or perhaps a number. That address must be unique so computers know how to locate 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. This can be a not-for-profit partnership of individuals from everywhere 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 and it doesn’t deal with usage of the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it can have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the web. “
Now with the push for ICANN to eliminate itself from governmental oversight to a more corporate setting it is a lot more worrying for future years of the internet as it exists now. Of-course it is currently choosing between your lesser of evils until hopefully an improved 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 go over the limits of “free market” by those who control it but rest assured we will achieve this in a new article. Giant corporations like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others plan to provide internet services to poor regions in the world where there is none or hard to get online. Of-course it isn’t just because it makes their heart warm but they wish to also decide what folks pay, see, do and obtain on “their” version of the web. Just like what the lobby of corporate groups wants online as it is now. That is also why some countries went ahead to fix net neutrality by law, although some implemented a weak version of it under great pressure from the corporate lobby. So you may want to have a look at how that is arranged in your country if at all.