RE: Big Brother Is Your Friend

From Mark Jeftovic <>
Date Mon, 20 Sep 1999 16:16:52 -0400 (EDT)
In-reply-to <>
Organization Private World Communications

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On 20-Sep-99 Chuck0 wrote:
> [: hacktivism :]
> I've always enjoyed Brin's books, but his comments about privacy show
> that he's just a fucking idiot, or that he wants to be the next SF
> fascist, ala Robert Heinlein.

:-| <-- this is me wincing because I'm about to get lynched out here... 

I have always been a closet case feeling that a surveillance society
is inevitable, and possibly beneficial. Many of the reasons why I think
this were echoed by Brin's sentiments, so I was heartened by the article
even though I knew the backlash was on it's way.

There is a sci-fi short story from many years ago called "I see you". I 
don't have offhand who wrote it, it's in a compilation I have called "TV2000".
The 30 second version is this: a nondescript engineer type invents a device 
that enables anyone to zoom in and visually surveil any place and point in
time. These devices become ubiquitous in society. People use them to zoom
back to Dealy Plaza and find the multiple gunmen a lying government told
them weren't there, people use them evesdrop on politicians double dealing
in backrooms, mobsters plotting their business, etc. Some use them to watch
other people having sex, and others use them to explore the surface of Mars.

Within a few short years though, it becomes impossible to commit a crime,
any crime, and get away with it, ever. With it comes the end of privacy.

The story isn't a "golly-gee-wiz-wouldn't-this-be-neat" tome, it's a very
good read actually. But one thing I've come to believe since then is
a very simple axiom:

Whatever technology enables, happens.

So, a surveillance society will not be avoided simply because we don't
like or want it. It'll happen, and it won't be a conspiratorial oligarchy
at the top imposing it, it'll be good old fashioned modern day know-how
accelerating and looping.

Imagine a jewelry shop whose front door is always locked. To gain entrance
you have to slip your credit card in the mag reader. The door quickly runs
a credit check (no point letting in deadbeats) and while it's at it,
a security check (no point letting in felons who like to rob jewelry stores).

That won't happen because Men In Black at the top want it to, it'll happen
because some enterprising company (i.e. will
make it possible. Then take that example and multiply it by transit
sytems, hot dog stands, pharmaceutical companies, everything. You'll
wind up with a billion little brothers, all keeping an eye out for their
master's best interests.

It becomes sinister when it's top down, the government keeping an eye on
all of us, but when it levels the playing field, so everyone also keeps
an eye on the government it isn't quite so sinister anymore, although
it's quite alien.

Like Brin said, everybody wants privacy for themselves and accountability
for everyone else. One of the reasons I somewhat concur is because we are
entering a day and age where it becomes easier for less people to do more
damage. Be it a single kamakaze with a suitcase nuke in New York, or
a highly placed hedge fund manager who can wreck a nation's economy with
a few keystrokes. The fairest countermeasure to all this is to give
everyone freedom at the expense of their privacy.

This means you can do whatever the hell you want, it's just that everybody
(or more importantly, at least somebody) is going to know about it.

I am now donning a heat resistant jump suit and curling up into fetal
position under my desk to await the onslaught.

regards, mark

|||| mark jeftovic    (MJ177)   ====     ||||
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