The concerns of a surveillance state within a market economy


Note about this article
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Incentive dictates: The market creates an environment where privacy should be important.

Mass surveillance is the future

Whether you like it or not, mass surveillance is the future. It's not hard to foresee a civilization where the word privacy has been stricken from the dictionary entirely.

The use of surveillance is not only the rational next step in the exponential development of our technology, moving us toward a larger synergistic system, but is also a double edged sword. Imagine a world where everyone's role is assigned by a central system, based on one's aptitudes and behaviors, allowing individuals to always arrive at the best possible position in society, insuring their happiness and feeling of usefulness.

Image credit: City from Psycho-Pass
Anime: Psycho-Pass
Scratching on advanced Philosophy wrapped in the acute topics of climate change, surveillance and human culture, famously written by Gen Urobuchi.

Mental health, disease or malnutrition would be a thing of the past, as constant surveillance and monitoring of one's health would eliminate errors in detecting symptoms or bad judgment. Humans would be able to concentrate on the things that are truly important to them, in a society where openness and collaboration are intrinsically given.

Sounds like a utopia? Thats because it is (not).

It is culture that will make the decision on how we use this newly available, and fast advancing technology. Only time will tell. Similar to the discovery of nuclear fission, which can both end up being used as an energy source or as a weapon of mass destruction.

The market

It is widely understood, that the world's monetary market system could be encapsulated by 3 core rules or values.

Image: Baisc summary of the market structure. Source: YouTube
Market Logic: Self Maximization
The inherant narcisism part of the basic gaming logic of our economy, lies at the core of concerns for privacy.

With respect to privacy, self maximization increasingly generates an environment where, by means of gaining access to a real time stream of your life, the end goal is to control your thoughts and ultimately your purchasing habits and political inclinations.

So the issue with privacy is not so much the topic itself, but how knowing about someone's secrets within the market's incentive structure, immidiately creating the possibility of taking advantage of that knowledge, only to advance one's own agenda, hurting the person or groups involved, creates fear and, quite frankly conditions us to becoming cautious of what people know about us.

A look at where we are today

Currently we are only at the beginning of extensive technologies being deployed and tested. Dumb, advertisement driven software such as targeted ads or emails are what can clog our lives. And even with the bulk data collection of massive amounts of the population happening rapidly, algorithms have not yet been developed to fully analyze and make use of such massive amounts of data. How do I know? We would be living in a dystopia already, that's how.

"The game is no longer about sending you a mail order catalogue or even about targeting online advertising. The game is selling access to the real-time flow of your daily life —your reality— in order to directly influence and modify your behavior for profit." Source

Sure, we have the manipulation of the media and social networks, which can be remarkably effective at altering people's opinions, we have massive city-wide surveillance systems and we have Windows 10. But these are all only pocking at what many in the field are seeing as massive, yet untapped, potential. It's important to understand, that it is only a matter of time, before big data will start yielding very effective results for the establishment.

Open Source and Alternative Options

Given the worsening surveillance reality today, it is important to consider alternative forms of communication. Many popular services offer breathtaking analysis of our personality and general psychology, and present it in a constant flow of information, documenting our lives. This makes choosing the right services a very important task.

Encryption plays a vital role here, but so so does the availability and creditability of it's source code. Open source, aside from being a generally better strategy for software development, intrinsically offers peer review of it's code by any third party or individual. Open source communication standards and software are hence the bedrock to look for when considering privacy and security.

"Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of 'free' as in free speech, not as in free beer." — Richard M. Stallman

Comparison of Services

Following is a quick comparison of various communication services and clients, outlining their usefulness and features as well as their status for protecting your privacy.


Telegram

Telegram has proprietary server back-end, however it's client is open source and licensed under GPLv3. It is run by Pavel Durov, an anti establishment Russian political asylum seeker. The entire development team are kept mobile at all times, never staying anywhere for more than 6 Months. Telegram uses it's own spun cryptography which is available for free review online. Over of $100k has been payed out in rewards for improving their cryptography. Durov has made commitments to not sell any personal data or hand over access to servers. All communication is encrypted, but runs over Telegram's servers, however end to end encryption, which does not pass over the telegram servers, is available for mobile. Because of it's comparatively large userbase, ease of installation, many rich features and multi platform support, I strongly recommend telegram as the bare minimum service used.

Platforms and Clients
A list of download instructions and links for various platforms

Ubuntu: Not available from official repos
ppa:atareao/telegram
Archlinux: Available from AUR
yaourt -Sya telegram-desktop-bin
Windows: Available from chocolatey
choco install -y telegram
Android: Telegram client available from fdroid here
iOS: Telegram Messenger client avilable from the AppStore here

Mumble

Mumble funcations similar to Teamspeak, but is open source, highly encrypted by default and available on nearly every platform.

"Mumble is an open source, low-latency, high quality voice chat software primarily intended for use while gaming."

Platforms and Clients
A list of download instructions and links for various platforms

Ubuntu: Available from official repos
sudo apt-get install mumble
Archlinux: Available from official repos
sudo pacman -Sy mumble
Windows: Available from chocolatey
choco install -y mumble
Android: Plumble client available from fdroid here
iOS: Mumblefy client avilable on the AppStore here

Epilogue

There are many other subjects to cover when dealing with privacy, including using a VPN, Email, your Operating System and many, many more. This page is simply to give you an idea of what the discussion is about, give you a few tools and align you on the right path to further you understanding. I do not think there is a simple one-step answer or solution to this topic, but awareness and simple, but effective, measures are still important.

The idea behind including this on my contact page, besides offering an explanation as to why I use certain services, was to make you perhaps question what you are currently using and at least try an alternative.

But I don't care about privacy, I have nothing to hide

"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say." — Edward Snowden

But likely the most difficult topic on this matter will lie with your personal cognitive dissonance toward the subject discussed above. It is up to you to not only protect your personal freedoms and privacy, but also contribute to protecting the existence of that right to begin with.