The surveillance state is inevitable

Surveillance

I am sorry to be such a pessimist, but I am afraid we will not be able to avoid the complete surveillance state.

What brings me to this conclusion? The following, seemingly unstoppable dynamic:

1. There will be another terror attack at some point in the future. As Anders Breivik proved, even one person is enough to cause massive harm.

2. After each terror attack, politicians tighten security measures and increase surveillance activities. During the past days, many leading figures in European politics have voiced these kind of demands, with David Cameron going as far as to claim that encrypted communication should be forbidden. Others have asked for more Internet censorship, which is another crucial characteristic of an effective “1984”-style surveillance society: The government systematically eavesdrops on all its citizen, and spreading of information is controlled and censored. While not each demand for increased surveillance immediately will be fulfilled, each small step gets us closer to the described scenario.

3. Meanwhile, the increased advancements of Information Technology make it easier, cheaper and more feasible to conduct systematic mass surveillance by the day.

As much as I hope that we find a way to break out of this vicious circle, I have serious doubts that this will happen. At least since 9/11, the trend is pretty clear: more surveillance, new terror attacks, more surveillance.

Do you see any realistic way out of this mechanism?

Photo:  Jonathan McIntosh/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

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