What a long strange trip it’s been…

20 September 2017

The System Knows Everything...


SURVEILLANCE EXPENSES

18 November 2013

A very silly list of search terms GCHQ would find from my recent Googlings

Warren Ellis pointed out that if the security services are watching us, they’re wasting a lot of money on writers and the weird shit they look up and think about.

So blame him. Plus, yes, I’m procrastinating. Or more accurately, I’m exhausted and I have a thing this evening I’m preparing for, little by little, and this was my reward to me.


Transparency For The Masses

25 June 2013

By me, on Medium:

But it is the concept which runs alongside the constant and essentially unconsented gathering of data which is most mendacious: the contention that privacy is a luxury, a bygone; an unnecessary and even regressive notion in a technological age of openness and a hinderance to the safeguarding of a just society. It is precisely in a technological society that privacy emerges as a central, vital plank of legitimate democratic function. It might be different if openness were universal, if we could scrutinize the choices of our leaders and hold them to account; if we could get unvarnished access to information about the things we buy and the services to which we subscribe, and know the probable consequences of our decision rather than be soothed with pablums and misdirections; if we were encouraged and enabled to participate in the creation of the world, rather than sidelined as the governed, the consumers. But this is not an era of radical transparency across the board. It is not an era of growing direct democracy. It is the era of transparency for the masses, of autocracy dressed as liberty. The powerful are concealed by law and contract, and by power. The rest of us are exposed and encouraged to think of this exposure as freedom.

We can’t go back to a time before distributed communications technology, and nor should we wish to, so we must have at least a limited Verpixelungsrecht – perhaps a right to secure, edit, and delete information held by any given service after a period of time – and a comparable right to see clearly the actions of elected officials, administrators, and corporations. The alternative is the slow or rapid fusion of the different aspects of influence, the different lists held by government and private industry, and the melding of the power of state and corporations into a whole. That melding, so obviously undemocratic and unaccountable in those areas where it is already in place, was once described by no less an expert on totalitarianism than Benito Mussolini as the ultimate goal of the Fascist project. We are not drifting into Fascism, but we do run the risk of a grim marionette form of government where each step we take is chosen for us by those above. The only antidote is to be found in demanding that it should be otherwise, and knowing what that choice means.

It’s a long piece, but I honestly believe it’s worth your time. This is something which goes to the heart of how we live and how we are governed, and everyone needs to have – and act on – an informed opinion.

 


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