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Thursday, July 21, 2016

50,000,000 Surveillance Fans Can't be Wrong

'When acceptance levels go up, privacy concerns go down' Scott Silverstone, Verichip CEO.
(Translation: If we can convince enough people to use it, the rest will stop asking questions.)

Big Brother asked; Are there risks involved in becoming too paranoid or polemical about surveillance?

There are risks associated with becoming 'too much' of anything, but in the context of modern surveillance I'm inclined to believe that the issue is that excess paranoia can only serve to mask other concerns that probably should be addressed. By concentrating on the one guy who proposes a cyanide filled RFID chip, or how a strong electromagnetic field can burn you (you don't need to be microchipped to know this. Climb a mobile phone tower and sit in front of the microwave repeater for a real-life, non-conspiratorial demonstration of said effect), ignores more plausible concerns. 
People should be concerned, or at the very least interested in the data being gathered about them, how it is used, and by whom. Though digital convergence (ie. Your phone that has all of your details etc.), the richness of data that can be gathered and cross referenced to form a picture of our behaviour, habits, preferences, proclivities etc. is staggering, and as far as I can tell, quite unprecedented in human history. And whilst companies will provide services in exchange for this data (gmail anyone?), with benign marketing and assurances of security, we can rest assured that there are those who don't have our best interests at heart. The Snowden leaks are probably the single greatest demonstration of this, with the 'villain' being the US government and its agencies (and by complicity, our own government, amongst others). That a data gathering apparatus can be so compelling as to have the Governments of much of western society lie* to their own citizens, and break their own laws* to hide and foster it, on its own should raise a few eyebrows. 
It is this 'apparatus' and the will to construct it, that I feel is the key issue. Even if our governments and corporations were completely trustworthy in their handling of this data, what happens when Trump, or Pauline Hanson gets elected? The heads of security agencies and corporations don't change with political elections, nor do their resources. 
I know this is way more mundane than any 'new world order', but if not more plausible, it is certainly more demonstrable. If we place too much focus on the fringes of the surveillance debate, we run the risk of ignoring what is actually happening right under our noses.

Aaaand rant done! I'll try to work on my utopian side for next time.

*these are entirely reasonable accusations and not at all controversial.


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