Woke Capitalism in bed with the Big State spells the end of freedom:
The surveillance state is alive and well. China leads the way here, as do all totalitarian societies. But the so-called free West is not far behind. Obviously, surveillance can be used for good or ill. The problem is, when the State becomes less good and more evil, we are all in big trouble with such technologies.
Surveillance technology in the hands of the state are a mixed blessing. We all may feel safer, for example, knowing that security cameras are in place, presumably to keep an eye on bad guys. Criminals can often be detected and caught when the authorities go over security camera footage and the like. So that is a good thing.
But as always, very real privacy issues arise here. Just how much are we willing to give up on various rights – including the right to privacy – in order to be kept safe, or at least to feel safe? Life in a fallen world is always about trade-offs, and we all put up with some infringement of our rights.
Most folks are willing to put up with lengthy security checks at airports for example if it means the likelihood of terrorism or plane-hijackings are greatly lessened as a result. So we will often compromise on certain goods (privacy and convenience, eg.) for other goods (safety and security, eg.)
But knowing where to draw the line and how far all this should go is always the tricky part. As I mentioned yesterday, in the name of keeping us safe from a virus, we are giving up more and more freedoms and basic liberties each passing month: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/08/06/the-rise-of-the-surveillance-state/
Our every move is already being monitored by QR tracking devices. You cannot go into a supermarket, a store, a restaurant, or some sporting event without your QR code. Claims that this information will never be shared and used for other purposes has already been shown to be false.
How much further will all this go? Mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports are already upon us in various quarters and are getting to be the norm more and more every passing day. The two-tiered society is already here. Health apartheid is now here, as I have documented: billmuehlenberg.com/2021/08/05/medical-apartheid-is-now-upon-us/
So let me look at another recent example of the double-edged sword of surveillance technology: Apple will now monitor all its phones for child abuse. As one report puts it:
Apple announced Thursday it is planning to scan all iPhones in the United States for child abuse imagery, raising alarm among security experts who said the plan could allow the firm to surveil tens of millions of personal devices for unrelated reasons.
In a blog post, the company confirmed reports saying that new scanning technology is part of a suite of child protection programs that would “evolve and expand.” It will be rolled out as part of iOS 15, which is scheduled for release sometime in August. www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/apple-will-scan-all-iphones-for-illegal-child-abuse-images-sparking-privacy-debate_3935633.html
Let me stop right there. Is child abuse – and child porn – a horrific and demonic thing? Absolutely. Should we do all we can to see it stopped? Well, mostly – but we must not make things worse in other regards in the process. Plenty of eyebrows have been raised at the collateral damage of something like this. The article continues:
But some security experts and researchers, who stressed they support efforts to combat child abuse, said the program could present significant privacy concerns. Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, described Apple’s proposed system as “an absolutely appalling idea,” according to the Financial Times. “It is going to lead to distributed bulk surveillance of … our phones and laptops,” he remarked.
When news of the proposal broke on Wednesday evening, John Hopkins University professor and cryptographer Matthew Green echoed those concerns. “This sort of tool can be a boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones,” Green wrote on Twitter. “But imagine what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government?”
Green said that “if you believe Apple won’t allow these tools to be misused [crossed fingers emoji] there’s still a lot to be concerned about,” noting that such “systems rely on a database of ‘problematic media hashes’ that you, as a consumer, can’t review.” The expert told The Associated Press that he’s concerned Apple could be pressured by other, more authoritarian governments to scan for other types of information. www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_morningbrief/apple-will-scan-all-iphones-for-illegal-child-abuse-images-sparking-privacy-debate_3935633.html
Another article also raises obvious concerns, and helps to put things in perspective:
By law, American companies have to report child abuse and exploitation imagery on their servers to NCMEC, which then works with law enforcement on an investigation. Other tech giants do the same when emails or messages are sent over their platforms. That includes Google, Microsoft and Facebook. So why are so many privacy advocates up in arms about Apple’s announcement?
It’s because Apple is checking photos on your iPhone, not just on its own servers in the iCloud. It’s going one step beyond what its rivals have done, checking every photo on a device rather than just on a company server. (It’s also scanning images to check whether they’re of nude children, using a different technology, but that’s all done on the device and doesn’t go to Apple. A simple warning comes up, suggesting iPhone users may not want to send or view nude images.)
Alec Muffett, a noted encryption expert and former Facebook security staffer, explained on Twitter that when someone buys a phone, they expect to have control over what’s happening on their property. But Apple is denying that right and “although it ostensibly exists to prevent upload of CSAM to their iCloud platform, they are using the user’s device to do it and making the tectonic-shift statement that ‘it’s ok by us to do this sort of thing to user devices.’”
Muffett and other encryption experts like Johns Hopkins professor Matt Green and NSA leaker Edward Snowden have also raised the alarm that Apple could now be pressured into looking for other material on people’s devices, if a government demands it.
“How such a feature might be repurposed in an illiberal state is fairly easy to visualize. Apple is performing proactive surveillance on client-purchased devices in order to defend its own interests, but in the name of child protection,” Muffett added. “What will China want them to block?” www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2021/08/06/apple-is-trying-to-stop-child-abuse-on-iphones-so-why-do-so-many-privacy-experts-hate-it/?sh=66dedc6a2fab
Exactly. And when Big Business or Big Government decide today that certain things are evil and must be stopped regardless of the collateral damage, there is no way it will stop with legitimate evils like child porn. Many in the Big State, Big Tech, and Big Business also firmly believe that all sorts of other ideas and groups are evil and must be harshly dealt with.
Conservatives and Christians have long been on the receiving end here. Those who question the climate alarmism, or Covid alarmism, the radical sexual agendas, or any other secular left narratives are increasingly being viewed as enemies who must be targeted.
‘But, but, but,’ the critics will say, ‘any move like this is justified if it ends child pornography.’ They think any negatives can simply be dismissed: ‘Anything that reduces child sexual abuse is well worth it.’ But if that is the case, then what will be the next step? Should we allow the authorities the right to enter any and every home, confiscate computers, and check everything we have ever done online – no questions asked?
This is the same mentality. To prevent an evil – in this case, child abuse or child porn – we need to take drastic steps, even if it means greatly infringing on basic human rights and liberties. It is ‘the end justifies the means’ mindset, and it sets a very dangerous precedent.
But some will glibly and foolishly say things like this: ‘Well, if you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.’ Um no, I am not buying that for a moment. I have no child porn on my computer, but that does not mean I will be peachy keen with allowing the State to come into my home, take away my computers, and look for anything they want.
When we get to that place, we are no longer free and democratic nations, but we are in deep and dark tyranny. Still, others will argue that Apple is a private company. These clueless wonders again miss the point. As Apple has said: “This innovative new technology allows Apple to provide valuable and actionable information to [the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children] and law enforcement regarding the proliferation of known CSAM.”
Obviously Big Business and Big State will have to be in full collusion here. What do you think Apple would do otherwise? Just tell the offending Apple user they have been a bad boy? Of course this info will be turned over to the police and other authorities.
Again, if real privacy concerns could be ensured, and ONLY genuine child pornographers and the like were targeted and prosecuted, that would be one thing. But this will NOT stop here. These same Tech Giants also see as evil a whole range of other ‘problematic’ folks, as I just mentioned.
Maybe those who question the climate cult narrative will be targeted next. Their phone calls and messages will be monitored, and the ‘guilty’ will be turned over to the relevant authorities for their punishment. This is exactly what is happening now in places like Communist China, and in a more limited form it is now happening in the West.
Joe Biden is already speaking of going after COVID recalcitrants, and the push for mandatory vaccinations and the like is all the rage in most Western nations. Those who dare to differ, to ask hard questions, and to challenge the narrative, are already being gone after. Monitoring their every phone call and message will be just one part of this.
Woke capitalism coupled with the Total State is the stuff of dystopian novels, and we are seeing all this being played out right now. There is no end to where all this is going. I repeat: Is going after child abuse a good thing? Yes. But as always, we must weigh up the benefits with the costs.
If ‘keeping us safe’ – be it from child porn or the Rona or pesky Christians and their ‘outdated morality’ – means the end of our liberties and the suppression of our civil rights, then we must slow down and think things through a bit more carefully.
If not, the West really has signed its own death warrant.