Forget Bitcoin…the most valuable commodity will be Privacy. Ed Snowden recently released his book “Permanent Record” which has given rise to further debate on what is the ‘right level’ of privacy we should be prepared to give up, in exchange for a safer nation? That is not the subject under discussion here, as our interest is more concerned with the facts and what the practical, not moral, implications are. In a recent interview Snowden went into quite some detail about the proficiency with which National Security agencies and intelligence organizations are able to collate data, seemingly forever. History will decide exactly how much impact Snowden’s revelations actually had on changing the ‘deep state’ approach to surveillance and monitoring of citizens. It is most likely that the effect will have been awareness and publicity but, as with any activity that is considered illegal or in this case, an abuse of power, the activities more often that not, do continue. It’s just they are driven further underground. This may well be the case now. Other articles on this site focus more on the Privacy Payment we, as citizens who provide tacit approval of these activities, will pay in exchange for safety. What we can say however, is that the commodity itself will only increase in value and at some point the clever folks out there will find a way to monetize it. As far as" current surveillance is concerned, following all the revelations many years ago, one might head the warning to "beware of wolves in sheeps clothing". Here we are saying that nothing has really changed that much fundamentally and that the data and invasive approach to monitoring is still very much there, it’s just the corporate world now takes on even more of a role, and this in turn shields the government and diverts attention. Orwell wasn’t wrong…he was just 25 years too early.
So if the Corporate entities i.e. FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are now the sheep (to continue the earlier analogy) then how, and why become even more involved? Take a recent story for the US in which a young lady was murdered and Amazons' Alexa was in the room when it happened. The process of government being able to gain access to private data in the form of recordings or calls, has been around for many years and the precedent was set (inadvertently) to allow for Law Enforcement agencies to circumvent the requirement to serve a warrant to the protentional perpetrator. Instead going directly to the companies who technically own the records is now much speedier. In the murder case it happens that a warrant was obtained so that Amazon could release the recordings which in turn may well assist in the prosecution of the suspect. In this case, most people will agree that if the system here is going to help remove a murderer from the streets, then this technology and its use in prosecuting the villain is justified. Just as those same people, all those years ago said (when the first examples of mass surveillance surfaced), ‘well, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about’. Unfortunately sometimes things don’t always work out quite as simply as that, and once out of the box, a genies is hard to put back in.
Before too long, and in the UK too, we will start to see more and more cases where technology of this sort which is accessible by the public, is used as by the Government through their ‘enforcers’ the technology companies. The link is inextricable and always has been. Ying and yang, bread and butter, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Intelligence agencies and corporate giants. The two simply cannot exist efficiently without the other. So, it is no great leap of imaginative thought to accept that at some point in the exponential growth of technology, AI and especially IOT and 5G, that more devices will be used to carry out the job of the ‘once human’ detective or policeman. Sci-fi bods may remember the names of the pre-cogs in the film Minority Report, Agatha, Arthur and Dash. Forget them…we have Alexa and Siri now. So what next? Read more.