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July 9th, 2013, 18:10
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Reading fail yet again. There is a difference between not being afraid of government snooping and endorsing it. I realize it's far easier to reinforce your manufactured scorn by not paying attention, but it's just plain lazy and wrong.
Not to mince words too much, but I just reread both Thrasher's and my own comment, and neither stated that you or txa "endorse" what the NSA is doing: Trasher wrote you do not mind it and I wrote you are placid in regard to it. So: right back atcha.

As to not being afraid of the government snooping: it is possible to speculate what will happen when everyone is placid and government surveillance is primarily going to be limited by technology.

First, it will be much easier to harm the credibility and public image of politicians who are against the surveillance. Because citizens cannot decide about something they do not know and politicians will tend to be in favour of knowing more about what is happening, eventually the state will have a complete history of telecommunications and an online history perhaps even including the data transmitted for everyone for all time (e.g. text is easy to compress and store forever). Consequently, each citizen will be transparent to the state, especially when the importance of the internet in our daily lives continuously increases with time*. The patterns used to detect suspicious behaviour will never be known publicly, obviously, and probably be opaque even to those applying them when they are technological black boxes, e.g. if implemented as neural networks. To avoid ending up in a suspicious pattern which will make it more difficult e.g. to get a Visa or a job offer, this uncertainty will lead to people censoring themselves, first in what they say and, in time, in what they think. Public opinion will be largely synchronised with few exceptions that will stand out and be marginalised. Social innovation and opposition to the position of the state will be minimised eventually and a point of no return towards a big brother state be reached and passed. Welcome to Orwell's dark vision.

Of course the above extrapolation assumes that there is no successful public opposition and meaningful limitations to increased surveillance in the future, when it might still happen**.

On the economic side, big business will, legally and illegally, siphon data from the surveillance agencies tempted by the large economical advantage. Small businesses dependent on their know-how will not be able to protect themselves from the industrial espionage and fail, which will lead to further monopolization. Without meaningful competition, technological innovation will suffer as well.

*Edit: devices like the X-Box One Kinect and also smartphones bring microphones and cameras readily connected to the internet into every household even today, so the technological barrier to total surveillance is already gone.

**Edit 2: for public opposition to occur, and also to give critical politicians a reason to act, whistleblowers revealing formerly secret surveillance practises are essential. The whole scenario is obviously not the best case possible, and perhaps not the most likely, but unfortunately it is not an unlikely case, either. Totalitarian regimes based on propaganda and public surveillance have existed in the past, exist today, and will be even easier to create and maintain with future advances in communication technology.
Last edited by coyote; July 9th, 2013 at 23:25.
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