Ten years ago, we all feared getting our electronic information stolen.
These days, though, it’s a given. If you do anything online… a bad guy will get your information.
Nobody seems to care.
It’s because we’ve slid down a very slippery slope… a slope with a pit of fiery doom at its end.
Most Americans look at China as if its politics come from a different planet. Its system of government control and population reform can never come here, they think.
It’s already here.
We’ve mused before about how our culture has traded its Liberty for convenience.
It’s easier, most folks say, to use our credit cards online than to mail a check. But they fail to do the math on the full equation.
In Hong Kong, for example, citizens are learning what happens when they let things go too far down that oh-so-steep slope.
Protestors there were teargassed over the weekend as they sawed through the bottom of a light post… that they were convinced was spying on them.
Meanwhile, the folks in a nearby crowd used umbrellas to mask their identities. It’s the only way to keep the government’s facial recognition system from picking them out of the crowd and punishing them for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
You may have heard about how China treats folks who don’t agree with the government.
It’s not good.
The country is rolling out a nationwide point system that’s similar to our credit scoring system.
But instead of measuring the ability to pay debts, China dings a citizen’s score if they fail to sweep the sidewalk in front of their house, if they jaywalk… or if they disagree with the government.
The list is public and open to anyone who dares to look.
It’s the antithesis of Liberty.
Coming to America
Of course, it wasn’t always that way.
China needs the system because, as the democracy-loving protestors in the streets will attest, a socialist economy has its flaws. Without the natural incentives of a capitalist market, the government must intervene.
Because of this critical issue, Chinese citizens traded their Liberty for economic survival.
It’s good for all of us, the communists in Beijing say.
Meanwhile, Liberty-loving folks in the United States covered their mouths yesterday as they worked to digest an article published by Fast Company.
It details how private companies are creating a similar system… entirely outside the law.
It mentions what we mentioned recently – that insurers can scan your social media posts and charge you more based on what they see. (Hint: Don’t post those skydiving pics.)
It also details how Uber and other popular ride- and home-sharing services rank their customers. We have one friend who has a hard time renting a home now because of an erroneous review on his account.
But then it details a budding system called PatronScan.
It’s scary stuff… especially when we scratch our head and envision the mess that lies at the bottom of this hill.
It’s the private sector’s version of China’s monitoring system.
With this company’s technology, business owners can scan the ID of customers and get a history of where else they’ve been and what they’ve done.
Bars love it.
If a reveler comes through the doors and his ID reveals his troublesome ways… the barkeep can send him right back outside.
And because the data can be shared with all users on the system, the deviant can be banned by all bars that scan his ID.
But it’s not just bars that will find this technology useful.
Surely an airline wants to know who’s naughty and who’s nice once the cabin door closes. And what big-box store wouldn’t want a nationwide system that allows it to see who notoriously buys a big-screen TV and returns it the day after the big game? Employers, too, would find a system like this helpful.
The more we scratch our head, the slipperier the slope becomes.
Scratch hard enough and we see it spells the death of the democratic system.
Soon enough, it won’t be just our actions that get us booted out of a store…
It’ll be our thoughts… our writing… and our Connections. Even who we donate money to could be run through the system.
We’re already seeing it. The internet controllers dictate whose views are right and whose are wrong. If the West Coasters at Google don’t like your message or who funded it, it won’t get displayed.
A database would make their jobs even easier.
“But wait, Andy,” the lobbyists in Washington will tell us, “our systems are different!”
“In China,” they’ll say, “the social monitoring system is mandatory. There’s no opting out.”
Here in the States, the Liberty haters will tell us we can simply not use the system – that we can avoid the bars, restaurants, stores, employers, rental car companies, airlines and websites that use it.
They aren’t lying… but you’re committing to a life of economic purgatory for daring not to take part.
Again, we turn to the cashless evolution taking hold here in the States.
More and more stores are refusing to accept cash… and courts are fine with it. After all, they say, everybody has a credit card these days.
We dare you to buy something on Amazon with cash.
Think you can opt out?
Try this. Go to your local bookstore and get a copy of your favorite book.
You can’t. Amazon put the bookstores out of business.
And if you’re hungry for even more proof, just check out the latest sinister scheme from Washington…
Seriously. Watch this and you’ll have no doubt there’s a war going on for your Liberty.
Sorry, friend, we’re already well on our way down this slope.
And it’s getting slipperier by the day.