There is a tendency in human culture right now that frightens everyone – at least, everyone who thinks about it – the intrusion of the Internet into our lives. And not just the Internet: the people out there wanting to collect our information for all sorts of reasons: benign, criminal and everything in between.
And no matter how the arguments fly, nobody has a workable solution. It’s just too complex a problem.
But if you take a step backwards and look at a bigger picture, complex problems that have been confounding you can become clearer. We are staring at trees, close up, but perhaps we should step back and take a look at the forest instead.
The biggest development in human society over the last thousand years or so has been the increase in freedom for the average human. The change from a government of royalty by divine right into our present limited form of democracy is a big one. The use of medicine to free us from the fear of disease and early death. The development of rational thought that frees us from superstition.
However, the increase in – what’s a polite name for it? – intrusive Internet research holds the potential to reverse this trend. If our personal information becomes widely available, this limits our freedom. Instead of governments and employers controlling our lives, we will have much less transparent international corporations, organizations and marketers manipulating us. The conspiracy theorists we used to laugh at will become the apostles of a new wave of thought.
What is the Solution?
Stepping back and looking at the forest, we see two major forces struggling for supremacy in the world. One represents the controlling interests that seek to manipulate us; the other represents our interests and seeks to protect us. At least it is supposed to.
In case you didn’t guess, I’m talking about business and government. Multinational, multibillion-dollar businesses would have the power to do pretty much whatever they like if not for the regulatory restrictions of the governments of the world.
Anybody silly enough to believe that the manufacturers, logging companies and oil producers of the world, unregulated, would act with proper stewardship of our natural resources, needs only to look at the North Atlantic cod fishery or the smog in Beijing to get a quick lesson in reality.
Not wanting to offend anyone (well, not much) it’s pretty obvious to me that businesses, no matter what their public relations may say, do not have the good of the country, the environment, or the population in their hearts. They are institutions designed to make money, and that’s what they do. The only protection we have is getting together and telling them what they may and may not do. This is known as government regulation.
Yeah, Yeah, I Know
We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that businesses are already wound up in red tape to the point where they can’t get anything done. Yes, government regulation can be overdone. But remember, “getting things done” for a business means making as much money as possible, regardless of the consequences to others. Business needs to be regulated. And the government is the only organization strong enough and with the proper motivation to fulfill this function.
Believe it or not, folks, the government is your friend. It belongs to you. Of the people, by the people, for the people and all that. Oh sure. In theory, it already is. But in reality we know better.
For any good businessman trying to make a buck, there are two solutions to red tape: sneak around the regulations or take control of the government and change the rules. The multinationals and those seeking to steal your personal data are past masters at the sneaking around part. The right-wing political parties are the business world’s answer to the second.
There has been an alarming trend over the past few decades for big business to cuddle up to conservative political parties in order to subvert the regulatory process. The actions of the Republican Congress in the US over the past year have been pretty transparent. Get control, change the rules, make a bundle before you get thrown out.
Our only solution to this potential danger is for the rest of the population to take a firmer grasp on the political reins. And this means an election process that gets rid of first-past-the-post elections that allow a small percentage of the population to control our government.
As we feel the weakening of our control over our privacy, we need to take a stronger control of our government. And nobody is going to do it for us. If you wish to do something about your situation, you need to put in the time and effort to find out what will give you more control over what happens in your country.
People deserve the government they get. Act accordingly.