There is temporary bi-partisan outrage at the recent revelations about PRISM and BARNEY and other strangely named programs. Rightfully so. Perhaps it is time for a new version of the Church Commission. The Digital Version. The last time I believe we have seen this type of temporary bipartisanship in the nation’s capitol was actually right after the tragedy of 9.11. So let us unite in a great cause then. Preserving our democracy.
Governments around the world are kind of missing the point. The point is not that they can siphon off our digital lives and chew on the digital breadcrumbs we all leave behind. The point is not that they are spying on us. That part should have been pretty obvious to anyone paying attention to Democracy since the Patriot Act was first written, then edited and updated and added to and continually re-authorized. But don’t kid yourself. This is not new.
The point is: The world has become de-centralized. Your life is decentralized in ways you could not have imagined even 10 years ago. You carry the power of what was the world’s most powerful computer 20 years ago in your pocket now. What used to take the resources of a government agency or large commercial entity can now be done by the crowd-sourcing of your life. You want the best new restaurant in town? Ask your friends on facebook. Need to get instant feedback on something? Tweet it. Want people to do a deep dive on something or really read it? Post it on Google+ or blog it. The point is. That we all can access information about anyone, anytime, almost as simply as by asking.
Technology has just rapidly increased the capabilities and speed of something that in one form or another has been going on for centuries. Governments have long spied on mail sent through postal services. The telegraph and telephone scaled that into a more real time (sort of) methodology. Now we have satellites, digital transmissions and our knowledge skills and access to powerful technology on a scale never seen in human history before. So governments are spying. So are big businesses. Every time you fill out a form online, or submit a sweepstakes entry, or use your credit card, or phone, or email, or go online, or drive your GPS enabled car.
Who then is really Big Brother? Governments around the world using spy gear and deep packet inspections to virtually rape your online life, or the corporations doing the exact same things, and or worse? Welcome to the future. Your future decentralized life. It is here now. Complete with two big brothers. Governments and Corporations.