There’s a fairly dumb contradiction being promoted at the moment.
On the one hand, we’re told – by those who do the surveilling – that surveillance was never more total nor complete in human history than now.
On the other hand, we’re told – by those who do the surveilling – that surveillance strategies, tools and orgs were never in need of more resources than today, and in the future.
Because the baddies are getting even worse.
The logical conclusion, as the baddies get so bad, and even total surveillance isn’t infinite enough, will be that no human rights will remain for us to enjoy.
As I suggested yesterday:
We don’t need this. We really don’t. We don’t need a state which perceives the condition-at-birth of every future citizen as being a potential criminal within the people.
Something else, however, in yesterday’s thoughts, continues to gnaw away at me. In particular, this section from the Huffington Post piece I quoted, which in turn quotes from government documents:
The report also notes that “online networks and communities” could provide a “pathway into serious and organised crime”.
The underlying assumption – I presume, anyway – is that if you go with corporate-based social-networking, you’re OK as far as the government is concerned. Corporate for them is good: you only need one meeting with one CEO to command the attention of 100,000 cascaded workers – and, also presumably, billions of end-users. (It’s manifestly not true, as the various banking scandals demonstrate – but, hey-ho, when did the truth need to get in the way?)
Meanwhile, little micro-biz needs to be battered into submission, as the attention you’d need to give it would far outweigh the time centralised governance cares to fork out and spend on those millions of little people.
No. I’m not trying to get you to shed tears for small people. In a sense, I can understand government’s thinking here. Unfortunately for them, and for us too, top-down communication of the minister-to-CEO sort we’re discussing is very 19th century; very kings and queens; very demonstrably inefficient as far as the goals in question are concerned.
So we do need another way.
Back to total surveillance.
If it could be made to work as they claim it already does (something I’m not absolutely sure events are proving to be currently true), we could all have the freedom to set up in perfect transparency any number of local community websites, wikis and communication tools that we’d like.
Total surveillance, once the original shock of the new was overcome, could quite logically lead to a set of greater liberties – different from those previously enjoyed, but just as real all the same.
The liberties would be, at the very least, twofold:
- Freedom not to have to communicate via exclusively corporate means.
- The right to choose any size or structure of local communication networks.
Coupled with the manifest aim of democratic constitutions for such local organisations and infrastructures, we could actually use the concept of total surveillance to our benefit.
I don’t believe those who run total surveillance believe in making it easy for micro-biz to do its thing, nor difficult for large corporate orgs to be in more or less complete control. Those who run total surveillance are, themselves, working in corporate orgs. It’s natural, then, that they should find it easy to discard corporate corruption and crime as occasional exceptions to the rule of broad corporate probity and see micro-orgs as generally threatening.
Is this problem insoluble – or does it require a process of education?
Education, after all, has allowed much of the good in the world to continue its steady march.
I, myself, have to be hopeful.
Without hope, where would we be?