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Internet Anonymity Guaranteed?

Updated on August 18, 2013

Snowden: traitor AND hero

If you value your privacy, the internet is a bad place to be. The recent publications by NSA security analyst Snowden have revealed again that government surveillance is not only present, but persistent and omnipresent. Until recently this topic was the single domain of the tin foil hat wearing crowd. Now we hardly look up from our morning paper anymore. And that is not so good. Because if we don't care enough, government monitoring will only become more intrusive.

What is particularly anxious making about Snowdens case is that the first thing that was on everyones when he made his statements from a Hong Kong hotel room, were words about the ethics of what Snowden had done. Similarly with Bradley Manning military transgression leaks, that were publicized by WikiLeaks and is the same whenever people start to question the morality of their peers and superiors. Is Snowden a 'traitor'? Of course he is. But that does not mean he is wrong.

1984

These days people don't even say 'ninetyeightyfour' anymore. It is as if that myth from the past has gone stale. It has become cliche, at best. Choosing between Orwell's dystopia and our current surveillance state, however: the government invasion in that vision was more easily felt, more haptically present throughout daily life. The main difference with the here and now is that our government has made its actions almost completely dark, like philospher Jeremy Bentham's panopticon.

Panopticon

Originally created as a method to make the prison system in his time more humane, the idea now serves more as a cool metaphor of our current surveillance state. The panopticon was of a central tower with windows made of tinted glass, from which the guards could look in every direction. The prisoners were locked up in rows of cells that expanded outward from the central tower like the spokes of a wheel. The guards could see anyone any time, but the prisoners themselves dis not know when they were being monitored.

Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

This book explains all about the relation between power and surveillance, and explores the psychological and philosophical aspects of it

 
1984
1984

the classic

 

Internalization of power

The main idea here is that when a prisoner does not know IF he is being watched he can assume that he is watched at any time. This will make him subservient because he will behave AS IF he is being watched. The main thing to take away here is 'internalisation'. When you know that you can be watched at any time, you will comply with the power structure internally. The consequence is that imprisonment in this system is not only one of physical imprisonment, but also one of psychological imprisonment. As Foucault said about it:

The panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form.

In our life, it is not the inmates who are being watched in this way, but all of you. And it is not one central tower from which we are being watched, but several dark towers, and the trick is that we do not really know who is in them and by which regulations they abide. We do not even know where to look if we want to seek them out, but it is already clear that big data mining companies like Google and Facebook are pervasively monitoring us.


The prisoner on his knees

Freedom

If we want to become safe of this we have only one choice. We can pull the plug, and go dark totally and live in a shack in the woods. While certainly the most extreme choice, it is also the least feasible. The powers that be have made not playing the game almost impossible. This is the way in which technology works as a kind of exclusiveness. Where it was thought to be a good idea to get everyone online, you are now positively isolating yourself from the other people of the world when you are not. Who can live without email? You'd not get a lot of opportunities in your life. The other way is to attack. And we can only fight back if we make ourselves safe first.

The Deeper Web

One idea is that we connect to the deep web, where surveillance is less omnipresent.The dark web is like a layer under the internet that is encrypted and (relatively) free from government- and corporate snooping. We can create our own institutions and financial systems there, that are free from business and government entanglements. But to do so, we must take the dive and connect with similar individuals in the underworld of the internet. It is granted that the dark web is used for many illegal things, precisely because it is free from government involvement, like the wild west in the founding of the US. But I see it also as a new border, an opportunity that will make it possible for us to live free from the psychological bonds that our countries have put around our ankles

It is hard to get to the deep web but here is an article that will help you get started on your travels. You do not need to be a hacker or a criminal to connect to the deep web. You simply need to be someone who values freedom over unfreedom, and someone who cares for the good of our world and the essence of our lives. So that we may overthrow the bad financial system, make the force of nation states to cripple the free mobility of individuals a thing of the past, and live lives that are not bounded by those that feel they want to exert power over our lives by selling us stuff and shaping our behaviour in the patterns that are most conducive to their profit, just for the sake of it. Fellow internet citizens, revolution is at hand

How to Get Anonymous on the Web in Five Easy Steps

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    • NancySnyder profile image

      Nancy Snyder 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      The prediction of "Big Brother" was not far off, was it? Thanks for another interesting article!