Big brother moves in – all the way

October 22, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

So, clean out that spare room, set another place at the table, rush to the store and buy or update your cell phone. Be sure to get a smart phone, mind; and brace yourself to enter the last stage of Big Brother watching you, moving right in, all the way.

There have been plenty of big steps and small steps to this next complete invasion into our lives but Ontario’s plan to issue digital identities to us all has arrived.

The 20thCentury writers predicted it but they always believed there would be resistance to mind and body control, to knowing absolutely everything about every individual. None of them considered a complacent and even eager capitulation of our every privacy, as has been the case for lo! – this last generation. 

It was creeping at first, taking its time until – in ways this writer certainly does not understand, to be sure – the whole world agreed that privacy is unnecessary and unwanted – that exposing our entire lives, the intimate details – too often, far too intimate – everything we’re doing all the time….is okay.

We have thrown our privacy away, with willing hands and in return, our plans and thoughts and actions are matters of information about us in the hands of those who do the controlling. I know a person, who clearly is not the only one, who doesn’t believe that your phone is always listening to you, even when it’s turned off; doesn’t believe that the cameras on it are watching everything we do, always, all that data is the new gold, as we have noted before.

I was frankly shocked at the plan, so sweetly offered, by Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy to run our lives off a “digital wallet” on our smart phones (only) that will contain all our information – driver’s license, health card, financial information – your life. And what if you lose your phone or it is taken? Do we suppose the locator on it will find it? That can be disabled but, meantime, all your information will be accessed and how much easier will it be to commit identity fraud?

Ontario is not innovating anything. This is almost old news. Digital identity exists in the U.K. and other countries. When I called a friend in London to confirm, he agreed that such a thing does exist in the U.K. but that he has refused to be part of it.

This is not paranoia. In a conversation with a government official, as I was writing this column, he recommended reading Edward Snowdon’s book, Permanent Record, in which Mr. Snowden [the famous whistle-blower of the massive misdemeanours of governments around the world] exposes the extent to which we are continuously spied on, our information kept by government agencies: they would say (are saying) to make our lives easier, themselves more accessible and red tape thinner.

If that were all there was to it, it might be alright. After all, we can certainly trust our governments to do their best for us, right?

Hmmm, maybe not, when it comes to how they love industry more than the environment; how they cut funding to the places that need it most – health, education, children’s welfare, to start with, in favour of …what?

Most of us probably live reasonably honest lives. We might pay cash for a service or purchase to avoid the sales tax, once in a while. It is possible that a person will dash across the yellow light when it is just about to turn red or drive that 17 kilometres over the speed limit when we can usually get away with 15. Our sins are relatively few, small, inconsequential anyway. Where we are doing our best is often belittled by incompetent infrastructure: we recycle with care but it mostly winds up in the landfill, as example.

I am not a conspiracy hound but digital is a conspiracy. It is a carefully and, for the benefactors, extremely fortuitous in the acquiescence with which it has been embraced by the largest part of the global population, system by which to collect information about that population with a view to influencing them in all their habits and to be aware of how best to harness their spending and voting.

Digital does not belong to any one author. Digital can and is accessed by others for whom it was not intended and the problem with a person’s whole being encased in a single “digital wallet,” a thing so insecure, the information of which could be stolen by a knowledgeable person standing next to you in line.

It is time to get a grip on our love affair with online and understand this slippery and steep slope. It is time to take back some of our lives and keep them to ourselves. Where there is exposure, there can be harm and theft. 

Digital is never secure.

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