Whilst I haven’t broached this topic before on this blog, I have mentally chewed through the subject for some time. How much information do I give out via the internet? How much is safe and secure? I had an amazon account, deleted it out of disgust, then reactivated it as I realised it was one of the few places I could buy certain books or music cd’s. I joined http://www.academia.edu only to realise there doesn’t seem to be a way to privatise your information on the site. This very blog itself has information on myself and my activities. Facebook seems to be selling my information left, right and centre, and, as of recent, my own Government seems to be happy to snoop on every aspect of my technological life if certain laws are passed. How far is too far? How much should social networking sites pander to governments in general?
Yet the counter point would be to say that this is my choice; largely, that I have decided to spread myself across the internet, that vast domain of the free that is not owned by any singular entity. I write because I want to write, and yes, sometimes this blog deviates from its meanderings in the study of human remains.
Yet, I still can’t shake that hypocritical shaggy dog off my shoulder- why is my own government trying to enact laws to intercept my every call, text, email and internet browse that I do? When there is such a clusterfuck of abuse of Britain’s libel laws that dominate in comparison to other European countries- should I trust the government with my own information? Indeed, they might as well sell my information like the social networks do, and gain some monetary value from its citizens- perhaps that will pay of the enormous amount of debt the country is in, and perhaps stop some of the ‘austerity measures’ that, so far, seem to target the poor, old and infirm.
There are of course questions unasked and answers not given in this post; I am merely chewing through some ideas about my own identity that I myself have put out into the world. Britain is far from alone in seeking to curtail the freedoms (both real and ‘on-line’) of its population.
As of this and last year (2011/2012), there seems to be a sustained attack on internet freedom, largely conducted by the UK, USA and the EU trying to pass various bills (SOPA, CISPA etc) to enact and engage with excessive and unneccessary spying of online data, often in real time. Part of this is likely as a reaction to the extraordinary ‘Arab Spring’, London Riots etc, and partly carried out under the guise of national and international ‘security’.
Although we are a democratic country, we should not be idle in our own introspection and development. We should be active participants in the way we shape and engage with our own country, and the world at large.
Indeed, as I am not a technological junkie (far from it), I shall continue to hand write letters to my friends across the world. As far as I know, these are some of the few private messages I send out!
Some news, opinion and vital sites for internet freedom:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120302/05420517946/uk-government-pressuring-search-engines-to-censor-results-favor-copyright-industries.shtml (UK Government Crackdown On Search Engine Information).
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2012/03/police-protest-meadows-public (Public Protest Crackdown).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/15/web-freedom-threat-google-brin (Internet Threat From All Sides).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/17/walled-gardens-facebook-apple-censors (Internet Walled Gardens).
http://www.wikileaks.org/ Wikileaks provide perhaps one of the most important functions on the internet- accountability for most governments on an international scale.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/audio/2012/apr/24/tech-weekly-podcast-tor-anonymity Article on Tor, the program that allows you to remain anonymous online.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa_corporate_global/?tta Sign the Avaaz petition to urge the USA to drop the CISPA bill which will give the US excessive and unnecessary Internet surveillance powers.