Snowden, “Big Brother”, And Increasing Monitoring Of PopulationsFirst Published: March 10, 2018 Last updated: July 28th, 2018 Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes
Most of us are familiar with the notion of “Big Brother” watching over us. The feeling of attempts to control our movements, actions, and even our thoughts by “The State”. To many, these assertions are the ravings of conspiracy theorists bordering on lunacy. In truth, however, the cold fact is we as a collective, do have almost every significant action on record, in one form or another.
The use of that information is really the point for debate, as well as how legitimate some of the data gathering is. Many people would take the idea of mass surveillance from shadow governments more seriously following the chilling revelations from whistle-blower, Edward Snowden. Whether it is for industrial espionage, political leverage, or market control, “they” have an intense interest in the movements, actions, and even the thought process of each and every one of us.
The Revelations of Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden became a household name in June 2013 when he released thousands of highly classified files concerning activity of the NSA to several journalists. These documents would form the basis of several stories that appeared in the “The Guardian” newspaper and “The Washington Post”. From there, the revelations snowballed, and Snowden became one of “America’s Most Wanted” almost overnight.
He faced charges from the US Department of Justice in relation to the Espionage Act of 1917, including theft of US government property. Snowden had made the revelations from Hong Kong, and after receiving permission for asylum in Ecuador, he would board a plane which would see him change at Moscow before setting off for his apparent sanctuary.
However, before he could leave Russia, the United States would cancel his passport. Snowden was literally stranded at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport where he would remain for almost a month. Russia would ultimately grant Snowden asylum rights, initially for a year but with annual extensions. According to Russian President, Vladimir Putin, his intelligence services were already in discussions with the whistle-blower about asylum before he left Hong Kong.
Among the many shocking revelations from Snowden’s files was the illegal accumulation of data of not only American citizens but other populations around the world. Everything from their phone-calls to their e-mails and even search history is on record. The NSA is the drive behind this data accumulation but the UK’s GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) have active involvement. As well as spying on citizens, the NSA and GCHQ monitored various world government’s communications, even those who were on friendly terms.
Further Examples From The Dark World Of The Intelligence Services?
A lot of what Edward Snowden has stated in interviews and written pieces, if we are to believe the authenticity of the claims, matches what many conspiracy researchers have claimed for some time. Perhaps most predominantly, how the use of intelligence affects change or to simply blackmail a political adversary with.
For example, the NSA has a particular interest in the browsing history of world leaders and high-ranking politicians. Of specific value to intelligence services is any history of pornographic sites in the hope that such data could be used against them publicly (or at least the threat of) should a need arise.
Snowden would also elude to intelligence agencies purposely leading “persons of interest” into compromising situations, often involving alcohol and drugs, in the hope of creating a situation to later blackmail the person with. Or, should the person end up in trouble, perhaps even under arrest for their “encouraged indiscretions”, intelligence services would “bail them out” on the understanding that they “one day return the favor!”
We have written before of the bizarre story of Gareth Williams. During the course of private investigations into the strange death of the MI6 worker, a former Russian intelligence agent, Boris Karpickkov would claim that Russian intelligence (one of whom was undercover at MI6) utilized similar methods. They had blackmailed Williams after taking photographs of him in “compromising situations” after drugging him. When Williams threatened to expose the Russian agent, he was killed, at least according to Karpickkov.
We will look at some of the many ways those in power watch the world’s populations in a moment. First, however, check out the video below for more information of Edward Snowden.
Digital Eyes and Voice Recognition Software
If you go to any city or even large town today, chances are you will see the hundreds of CCTV cameras looking at you. Not always prominent, sometimes very much so, but there nonetheless.
For example, in the United Kingdom, there are an estimated 5.9 million CCTV cameras in operation. That is one camera for every eleven UK citizens and puts the UK at the top of the list in terms of monitoring the populace. The United Kingdom is not alone, with almost every country with access to such technology having installed extended and connected “security” systems.
Furthermore, the technology behind these eyes in the sky is ever increasing. China, for example, utilizes facial recognition technology on a grand scale and can track any of its citizens in a busy, moving crowd. While this is no doubt a great aid when hunting down genuine criminals who pose a threat to life, there are understandable concerns about the abuse of such intrusive technology.
In 2015, Tony Porter, a former UK police officer would claim to the media that number plate recognition technology was being abused by many police forces. The software is widespread throughout the UK in order to easily track down uninsured drivers. However, according to Porter, it is “one of the largest data gatherers in the world!”
The expression “the walls have ears” also looks set to become a reality. Russian company “SpeechPro” claim their software can record, contain and match millions of voices. What’s more, it can match them from a phone call to its database within a matter of seconds. This voice recognition software looks set for installation throughout much of the United States after “successful” trials in Mexico. Literally, anything you say, regardless of location, would stay somewhere, electronically.
Technology Advancements For Whose Benefit?
So, what do they do with all that data, and can it really be to their advantage? In short, lots, and yes. And, like other intrusions into the private lives of citizens, the reasons are the same. The “fight against terrorism” and the “security concerns” of the populace.
For example, the vast majority of purchases today take place via a debit or credit card. Not only is there a record of every single purchase, but these transactions can be viewed in real time. This means that before you have even left the store, potentially, someone sat thousands of miles away has a full inventory of you have just bought.
The ever-increasing drive to “go cashless” is quite rightly viewed as short-sighted by some. Not least due to the potential for the “system” to refuse your debit or credit card. Most of us in that situation would use cash to complete the transaction. That wouldn’t be an option without “hard cash” in society. Nor would the option to keep a purchase private, whatever it might be.
Even supermarket loyalty cards are a little more than they seem. What this allows chains to do is monitor exactly what each person buys. They then tailor “special offers” specifically designed to match your purchase patterns. Although not particularly malicious, the UK government also see this data. And in the interests of “public health” would look to “offer advice” to people with “unhealthy” shopping habits.
The short clip below is from the 1996 movie, Demolition Man. It takes place in the future in a utopian society. One which doesn’t allow “unhealthy” lifestyles. It is worth playing here as it shows, if dramatically, why people are concerned with such interference from the state.
“Smart” Technology Everywhere!
There is no denying the Internet and smart technology makes many people’s lives easier and of a higher quality. There is, however, a drawback with such technological devices – basically, all have the potential to record information about you.
Smartphones, for example, basically record every move you make for up to a year. And it is not too much of a stretch to think that data resides elsewhere, permanently. Smart TVs also have inbuilt microphones and cameras, as well as automatic connection to the Internet. Aside from the risk of identity theft due to unsecure networks, as crazy as the notion is, anyone who has access to the network, could use the camera and microphone to watch and hear everything you do and say.
Even searches online are recorded and stored. Certain “keywords” raise a flag, for example. It is easy to understand the genuine reasons this would be useful. The fear of governments and intelligence agencies using such information to their own ends, however, is also understandable. Perhaps even planting or twisting such data in order to compromise an opposition is not unheard of.
Of even more concern to many is the apparent push to have microchips placed into the world’s population. This has happened already in many places around the globe. Usually through an employer “offering” to have their workers “chipped” to make their life easier. Many companies involved in the technology are apparently rabid to roll out such schemes further. And they cite the ability a person would have to pay for purchases by just swiping their hand. Or even being able to unlock their house with such a chip. Once chipped, however, there is no knowing what information is transmitted from it. Or perhaps more worryingly, to it.