Privacy is Dead

When I started working in internet development I saw it as a great tool of liberation for the global South. 18 years down the road I see it as a great facilitator of absolute control. It is not now but may become a threat to human civilization in coming years.

We live in an age of corporate surveillance architectured by neoliberal global capitalists where Governments and corporate interests have united under the umbrella of metadata surveillance. Given the developments in the surveillance industry in recent years I have taken a different stance on the issue of privacy perhaps, from what most of you would expect me to have taken. I for sometime now have been very vocal about the National Security Agency and massive mass surveillance  programs and I think that we should understand that the game for privacy is gone.  The mass surveillance is here to stay.

Mass surveillance has had a trickle-down effect, whereby not only large and mid-sized states are engaging in this unethical act of spying on the innocent, but even small countries like ours are now spying on their own citizens after the de facto approval by the world’s most powerful.

We can talk about all the laws that we want, and what policies should be and how society should behave and how it should work, but we should realize the fact that privacy is gone and it will not come back short of a very regressive economic collapse which reduces the technological capacity of civilization.

As the price of cutting edge technology continues to decline, states will employ more  surveillance technologies at an increasing rate.

The reason it will not come back is that the cost of engaging in mass surveillance is decreasing by about 50 per cent every 12 months, the underlying cost of telecommunications, moving surveillance intercepts, computerization and storage – all those costs are decreasing much faster at a geometric rate than the human population is increasing.

If you look at societal behavior with reduced social spaces like Sweden, South Korea, Okinawa in Japan and North Korea then you’ll see that society adapts. Everyone becomes incredibly timid, they start to use code words; use a lot of subtext to try and sneak out your controversial views. Like baat tu ap samaj gaye hon gay etc and so on.

Privacy is one of many values “that simply are unsustainabe in the face of the reality of technological change; the reality of the deep state with a military-industrial complex and the reality of Islamic terrorism,  and national security is legitimizing that sector in a way that it’s behaving.

Its time to innovate and strategies and comeup with tools like bitcoin, tor and few others in a growing list as a societal reaction to growing state control. Telecos needs to become more transparent.

Transcript of a talk on Privacy by Arzak Khan

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