The imagery of 1984 has nearly become a cliché when talking about political fears and the loss of our freedom, but the technology we (and, more importantly, those in power) possess make those fears too close to becoming a reality to dismiss such thoughts into the realm of fiction.
Online censorship is becoming more prevalent, and there are organizations that would benefit greatly from it, especially as our fear of the world grows. We can already see how it affects countries such as China, whose citizens rely on outside sources and proxies to remain knowledgeable about the truth and fight back against government misinformation. Without the truth, despots will rise and America will be ruled by fear. America cannot suffer the same fate as current police states around the world, both for its own interests and those of the world.
Here are a few reasons why we should be concerned about the potential rise of a police state:
Society Is Being Primed for It
The culture is shifting to one of vapid memes and unbalanced opinions. Misinformation is spread like fire and unpopular opinions aren’t argued against so much as they are shouted against. People will soon discover they need a moderating voice online, and many might turn to big brother, much to their long-term disadvantage. People are getting used to the idea that they cannot say anything they want, and that might soon include their (right or wrong) political opinions.
Additionally, look at the most popular social media platforms and websites. They are moderated and they have their own rules. Many rules are agreed upon to be necessary. People won’t necessarily realize what is at stake. The largest corporations are forming monopolies over channels of information online (think about just how much power Google has compared to other search engines). What would happen if the government tries to leverage that power or force its way in?
Corporate Interests Are Too Interested
Take a look at the current battle for net neutrality. ISPs and other “pro-business” interests have taken it upon themselves to destroy the basic rules which govern the internet in order to make bandwidth control a reality, allowing service providers to effectively censor whatever content they wish and charge people for the right to get their information out there. Holding the truth hostage is merely another form of censorship, and the tools to do so are dangerously close to falling into the wrong hands.
And while the corporate interests might not necessarily have the same reasons to censor the internet as more politically minded individuals and parties, it does make the framework very simple. If people are already being censored and have gotten used to it, then there won’t be much resistance should the government swoop in and make its online alterations. It’s possible that most of us won’t even notice or care. Yet we’ll certainly notice when we try to voice our opinions online and find out we are talking into the void or are penalized for doing so.
Information Is Power, and Power Corrupts
What would you do if you had a nearly complete dossier of nearly everyone in the country? You would have the ability to know someone’s political viewpoints, income and family before you even saw them. You could know everything about them that they shared with someone else. You would be able to order a closer watch on them if they disagreed with you. You could make their life miserable and silence them at your will. Doesn’t that sound very tempting? It’s the reality (or soon to be the reality) for some world leaders and America has the technology to make it a reality in the US, especially if the tech giants comply with demands.
President Obama may or may not have used this kind of power. President Trump and his top officials may or may not use this power. Eventually, however, someone will see the opportunity and be unable to resist, and they’ll find an effective reasoning (perhaps national security or a massive social program) to move forward with enhanced spying and even censorship. After that, it will become the norm, and the police state will take hold.
How Do We Know We Aren’t in One Already?
This makes us wonder: are we in a police state now, and how would we know if we were? It wouldn’t be in the best interests of any organization to declare itself a police state or to call attention to restrictive policies. As a matter of fact, a police state would be a secretive state, acting not so different from the secretive organizations that are interested in taking over the nations. We wouldn’t know people are getting censored because those people wouldn’t have voices. There would be an illusion of normalcy. This is something we must consider.
Yet resistance is possible even if this is the case. A government needs a compliant populace to operate. If everyone notices they are being oppressed and organizes, even through traditional means if necessary, the police state won’t succeed. If commerce fails in the police state, it won’t last long. If democracy pulls through and the moneyed interests stop winning, we’ll be able to pull the nation back from the brink of disaster.
The police state is coming unless we act quickly, and there’s a constant battle at work between patriots and free speech advocates and special interests and secret societies who would be interested in tightening the grip over the US and world populations. Be careful about who you vote for and be careful about what you consider convenient. Share this message with others if you think it is important that the internet remain free.
About the Author: Carla is a blogger, activist and cyber-security researcher. Her fields of study have allowed her to monitor the current political situation with a unique viewpoint and realize the danger the average internet user is in. She hopes that you can use this information to protect yourself from forces both private and public and that you speak out against injustice.