Friday, August 2, 2019

See-Through Society :: essays research papers

Introduction Governments like to think they’re in control. Especially in times of crisis, they try hard to portray an image of being one step ahead of their enemies, wanting us to think they are able to take decisive action that will solve problems once and for all. Since 9/11 in particular, western governments have reasserted their commitment to monitoring the movements, conversations and keystrokes of anyone they suspect of posing a threat to national security. One of the most high profile examples of this has been the US Government’s proposed Total (later renamed ‘Terrorism’) Information Awareness (TIA) scheme created by DARPA . Ambitious in scope, one of projects stated aims is â€Å"to create a counter-terrorism information system that increases information coverage by an order of magnitude.† The TIA project quickly sparked controversy and it didn’t take long for a response to the idea. Government Information Awareness (GIA) is a website that allows anyone to post and retrieve information about members of the executive, legislature, judiciary and senior executives from US companies . Set up by a group at MIT’s Media Lab, it plays the numbers game, believing that millions of eyes can outperform the efforts and resources of a few thousand experts. Their stated goal is to, â€Å"develop a technology which empowers citizens to form a sort of intelligence agency; gathering, sorting, and acting on information they gather about the government.† This short paper argues that GIA is part of a wider dynamic, towards enforced transparency of institutions that have traditionally held positions of control. It focuses not so much on the information gathering activities of traditional institutions such as governments, law enforcement agencies or multinational companies but instead on the activities of non-institutional actors such as NGOs, activist networks and individual members of the public. It doesn’t focus on privacy (that important topic is left to other contributors to the Foresight exercise), but instead on openness. Back to the hackers To look forward, it is often useful to look back and when it comes to thinking about the future of the internet it is especially instructive to look back to its origins. Despite its military funding and early applications, the internet wasn’t really created with military objectives in mind. Instead it was created by hackers – not the stereotyped teenagers bringing down the Pentagon’s computer system from their darkened bedrooms, but clever programmers for whom a ‘hack’ is just a neat programming trick.

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