Is It Too Late to Stop the Surveillance Spread? — Big Brother is Watching
Airport security has been around a long time, at least since the 1970s. What has changed is the degree of security. First came metal detectors. Then came X-ray scanners. Then non-passengers were banned from departure gates. After 9/11, the security ramped up more with scanning for handheld luggage, full-body scans, pat-downs, separate scanning for laptops, and so on.
After the liquid bombing plot of 2006 was foiled, liquids were banned from planes, including oversized tubes of toothpaste, shaving cream, and mouthwash. A full-scale government agency called the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to oversee all of this.
They did a good job of creating government jobs (why it takes five TSA staff to oversee one scanning machine is still a mystery to me). The cost of all of this is almost impossible to estimate (not just in terms of administration, but also the time value of passengers stuck in long lines), but it’s consistent with Osama bin Laden’s view that he would defeat the US not with direct warfare, but by imposing economic costs that would eventually strangle the economy.
Everything becomes Clear
Among the solutions to these security burdens is a company called Clear. The Clear system allows passengers to skip most security lines by becoming a paid subscriber and submitting to thorough background checks. Once completed, the passenger can verify her identity with biometrics, such as an iris scan or fingerprints, and proceed to the flight without waiting at security checkpoints.
Now Clear wants to expand its business line to provide identity verification for almost every transaction, as described in this article. Clear would verify your identity as you bought a meal, entered a sports arena, picked up a prescription, or anytime you used a credit card. The verification process could be used at hotel check-ins, car rental counters, or almost anywhere else you engaged in day-to-day transactions. It could even affect your healthcare since it could be used for hospital admissions and doctor visits.
A dystopian nightmare come true
Of course, Clear would know everything about you (part of the background check) and would know everything you do (as it tracked your transactions). This data could then be sold to Google or Facebook to be used for advertising purposes. In the future, the data could be used by political parties to exclude opponents from civil society as is done in Communist China today.
The technology is a dystopian nightmare come true; a cross between Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The difference is that in those novels, the thought control and surveillance were imposed by the state. When it comes to systems like Clear and Alexa, people seem to be willing to surrender their freedom willingly.
Big brother is not coming — he’s already here
Surveillance has reached unparalleled heights, as everything from your email content to shopping choices, to physical location, to the website you view is continually monitored and aggregated into a personal profile that can practically predict what you’ll do next.
People seem to endorse the surveillance state by leaving their mobile phones on continually, downloading numerous apps (each with its own surveillance capability), and installing two-way voice monitoring systems like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
Much of this data gathering and surveillance is used for advertising purposes so social and digital media platforms can target you with advertising tailored to your tastes based on prior purchases and private searches. But the information has many other uses.
Facebook and Twitter have crossed a line
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have shadow-banned certain conservative voices. This does not involve shutting down an account, but rather limiting the reach of the account by negating ‘retweets’, ‘likes’, and other channels by which a message can be amplified and go viral. In other cases, the platforms put ‘warnings’ on your messages either that your material is unreliable, unverified, or should be viewed with scepticism.
Of course, these labels are not uniformly applied. Conservatives suffer from biased fact checkers who discredit their work while progressives are free to post messages that are partly invented or outright lies, without any ‘fact check’ at all. All of this was bad enough, but now Facebook and Twitter have crossed a line that may result in the loss of their most valuable legal protections or even the breakup of these companies under anti-trust laws.
Here’s what was reported in this article. On 14 October, The New York Post (which was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton and is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the US) published emails and photographs from a laptop computer once owned by Hunter Biden that revealed huge payments from China, Ukraine, and Russia to buy influence from then Vice President Joe Biden — who could very well be the next president.
The Post is a reliable publication and the story is one of the most important of the election season. Immediately, Twitter and Facebook shut down the Post social media accounts and banned users from sending a link to the story. Of course, this censorship failed. By trying to squash the story, the Silicon Valley tech neofascists simply inflamed it and made sure it came to everyone’s attention.
After a few days, the Post social media accounts were reopened, and the story could circulate. By then, the damage was done both to the Biden campaign (which began dropping in the polls) and to Twitter and Facebook (which face Senate subpoenas, public testimony, and likely legislation to remove some of their legal protections for damages based on their wrongful actions). The Twitter and Facebook stock prices will suffer accordingly.
It’s one more example of how the so-called geniuses of Silicon Valley are not so smart after all.
All the best,
Strategist, The Daily Reckoning Australia
PS: This content was originally published by Jim Rickards’ Strategic Intelligence Australia, a financial advisory newsletter designed to help you protect your wealth and potentially profit from unseen world events. Click here to learn more.