6.14.2013

This Whole 'Internet Privacy' Thing

I had every intention of simply allowing this blog to fade into obscurity given my lack of motivation. In lieu of that, I think I'm going to move shop to a new host unsullied by the presence of rapacious overfiends (Google) that collude with the US government in a vast data mining conspiracy with the unsurprising but still frightening goal of consolidating control over all of us as tidy little consumer units. But I suppose that along with that move I should probably also cut my ties with Facebook, the progenitors of which are clearly the same type of loopbacking frackfaces who see the world solely as a giant resource grab. It may well be impossible at this point for one to extricate himself completely from the extensive web of information harvesting in which we've all willingly entangled ourselves, especially without piquing the interest of the digital age perverts that we all know have been lurking in the shadows this whole time. I mean, we chose to frolic in the meadow without looking in the bushes first, right?

The favorite neo-truism of late has been a concept that echoes Orwell's 1984: If you've nothing to hide, then you've nothing to fear. This is essentially part of our beloved government's song and dance after the outing of their massive info-gathering program (AKA "Prism"), allegedly by former contractor Edward Snowden. It's also an almost direct quote from Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. If you follow the link, you may also notice his assertion that "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Thanks Eric. That's surely enough to convince me the rest of America that privacy is overrated and we should give it up for our security and in the interest of furthering consumerism and lining your fucking pockets. Google, I hope your search engine can scan my blog for the text where I tell you and all your rot-cored cynical technocrat buddies to go perform loopbacks. Please see the above link for information on how this might be accomplished. After that you have leave to swim in your dragon-horde piles of gold doubloons (see 'Scrooge McDuck' for reference).

In all seriousness, it's not an acceptable response to endorse the cliche and assert that because you have nothing to hide, the collusion of government and multinational corporations in a vast scheme to harvest your personal information is a-okay: the individuals perpetrating this are the most cynical, hive-mind pieces of shit in existence and that may be a little too kind. It is, however, acceptable to have the perspicacity to say something like "OK, I knew that this freehosting for my blog, free unlimited data storage and these free social networking platforms that allow me and all my 'friends' to share all these irritating memes with each other wasn't provided via some altruistic quest to improve the human race". No, all of these are in fact provided by billionaires who want nothing short of complete control over the way people use the internet and by extension their entire way of life by way of their spending habits. It's all as banal as following the money, although we might suspect that the whole 'seemingly natural tendency of humans towards craving primacy' might come into play as well. We might say we sort of knew all of that going into all of this but we also might posit that whether or not our participation appears to be tacit assent to sharing our personal information, there must be reasonable limits to said sharing. When we checked all of those digital terms of use agreement boxes, did we also give our government the okay to modulate towards totalitarianism with nary a whisper of its intentions? Wake up: it's not just the idiots who post YouTube videos of themselves and their friends stealing cars or setting kittens on fire that are affected by this. We've all been showing our cards for years.

To that effect, we could all be contrite in our shortsightedness, about how we should have known better than to even start down this road. Perhaps there should be some element of introspection about our collective lack of foresight, not that there hasn't been a distinct pattern of such a lack throughout history. But just listen to the politicians' (Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)) glib rhetoric about how this is the only way to keep us safe from...you guessed it...terrorists. The clarion call of modern America since, oh let's see, 2001, was it? The justification for multiple wars and war-like incursions without formal declaration as such that have bled the civilian economy dry and that really had little to do with terrorists at all (see 'oil' and 'redirection of taxpayer dollars to private corporations' for reference). Now it's the given reason for stripping the fourth amendment bare and throwing it out in the cold. It may well be worth it for the 'average' person to consider, now, how is it in the interest of our safety to allow our personal liberty and privacy to be whittled away to facilitate, say, more accurate consumer targeting? Because that's really what's happening here: the corporations are finding new and more inclusive ways of having their cake and eating it too-and a lot more of it to boot. If that sounds like a conspiracy theory, that arms of the government would align with corporate interests, it shouldn't take long to think of maybe a few other examples that might reduce the astonishment at that radical idea. That it took an Edward Snowden to affirm our belief in what we already knew is part of the writing on the wall for us as a free society. I don't have any real solutions to this dystopic reality into which we are gleefully walking hand in hand. Anyone who does should probably scratch them in code on their basement framing members; that should keep them safe from any digital peeping toms out for blood money.

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