RE: Big Brother Is Your Friend

From "Lownie, James" <>
Date Mon, 20 Sep 1999 19:32:46 -0500

[: hacktivism :]

> From: Mark Jeftovic []
> 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.
<snip story>
> 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.

While the citizens still have some say in the running of a democracy, change
can be controlled.

> 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, 

Maybe not, but it will only happen if they do want it.  That jewellery shop
has to have free access to bank and police info or it can't operate it's
checks.  The banks and police aren't going to give that away unless they
have something to gain.

> 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.

Fantastic, an amway-like pyramid of power all concentrated under one
controller, the entire might of which can be brought to bear against any one
of it's subjects.  I can hardly wait.

> 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.

Who says it is going to go two way?  I can't see that happening.

> Like Brin said, everybody wants privacy for themselves and 
> accountability
> for everyone else. 

I think most people would settle for a balance between the two.  Universal
surveillance will make this impossible.

> 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. 

Cameras can't prevent this and it isn't going to go away.  We are going to
have to find some way to live with it.

> The fairest countermeasure to all this is to give
> everyone freedom at the expense of their privacy.

In order to provide a completely safe society you have to take away
everyone's freedom.  While people have any freedom they will be able to
build bombs and write viruses.

> 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.

Well, no, whoever has access to the most data will know about it.  Which
will be corporations and governments.

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

Don't you find it alarming that at the end of the article Brin enumerated
the requirements for the utopia he anticipates, and they included open
government and a vigilant press?  Since it has been revealed that the CIA
has been smuggling cocaine into America and then been authorised by the DOJ
to lie about it, how open do you feel your government is (assuming you are
American)?  I feel that the corruptibility of the press has been so
thoroughly proven that it requires no further discussion.  I think Brin's
opinions on this issue are worth shit, he doesn't seem to be living on the
same planet as the rest of us.


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