brain shock
© unknown
Eight years ago, in May 2009 MSNBC published a series of articles predicting what the world would look like in 2017. Their subheading was "Rapid pace of technology will mean wrenching changes in just a decade". 'Wrenching' changes have indeed occurred but the reality now is that the major changes our world has witnessed have been less due to technological change than to the Wars over diminishing food and water resources, the virus pandemic, cosmic bombardment and the global centralisation of economic conditions to solve the greater Depression.

In 2009 what seemed like relatively insignificant political and technological developments turned out to be the green shoots of today's Biological Environmental and Technological Convergence (BETC) Revolution. The development of Quantum nanotechnology storage systems enabled Governments to store massive amount of data on every type of communication between individuals. Every VMS (Voice Message System), call, video link, search, browse, in fact every single data transfer is stored, mined, assigned, matched and under the BETC Government control.

This author is one of many who managed to continue writing as the blogosphere removed the anonymity that citizens (now referred to as dissidents, militants, insurgents and terrorists) used to spread their warnings on the negative potential of the new revolution. Through biometric advances, having a unique CP (Citizen Protocol) address assigned to every individual regardless of the device they are interacting with, took time to get used to. I myself am one warning away from having my editing rights removed completely. Rather like the French 3 strikes law that saw the formation of initially a "new State agency [and later Global agency] that sent illegal file-sharers a warning e-mail, then a letter, and finally cut off their connection for a year if they were caught a third time."

How did we let it happen?

The End of Free Speech

france ponytail
© unknown
In 2017 it has taken many writers on the Grid time to adjust to the new policies and procedures to report on events in a way they were used to doing in 2009. The clampdown on Freedom of Speech was highlighted in 2009 by a Web developer in France, Jérôme Bourreau. He, like many others, could see the threats posed to civil liberties by the new French piracy law. He wrote a critical article of the new law and was the subject of this article:
Imagine, if you will, feeling compelled to write your local elected representative about an interest that affects not just you, you believe, but a lot of people. You thoughtfully compose a letter - email, being the post-modern age - and send it off. Your elected representative was so impressed he forwards your email to the government department working on the particular issue. Then a person at that government office decides to forward your email to your employer. And then you get fired.
The clamp down on critical speech became widespread. In the U.S. Hate crimes prevention act set the foundation to destroy free speech.
This legislation will allow the federal government to provide support for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of any crime if it is believed to be motivated by prejudice based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. This bill sets the foundation for the government to impose greater penalties on individuals who have a belief system that might be perceived to be prejudiced against any particular group of people. Clearly, this bill is designed to setup the building blocks to destroy what's left of the First Amendment.
Prison now awaited those Bloggers targeted by this new Law:
Proposed congressional legislation would demand up to two years in prison for those whose electronic speech is meant to "coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." The meaasure, H.R. 1966, is labeled the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It's designed to target the behavior that led to last year's suicide of the 13-year-old Meier. Sanchez's bill goes way beyond cyberbullying and comes close to making it a federal offense to log onto the internet or use the telephone. The methods of communication where hostile speech is banned include e-mail, instant messaging, blogs, websites, telephones and text messages.
Social Networking sites were a rich source of volunteered information useful to the Government's political aspirations. The UK Government outlined Facebook monitoring plans:
Jacqui Smith was speaking at the launch of a consultation entitled Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment. She said it was essential for such information to be easily accessible by public authorities, including the police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), HM Revenue & Customs, and the intelligence agencies. [...] Legislation has already come into force that requires service providers to retain details of user internet access, email and internet telephony for a year. The rules being proposed in the Home Office's new consultation, however, also take in communications made using third-party providers, such as webmail providers and social networks such as Facebook. Facebook's chief privacy officer, Chris Kelly, told ZDNet UK in March that such plans were "overkill".
The Hate crimes Bill and Government mining of social networking data enabled them to coerce and channel public opinion. Examples of this were the presence of groups such as the Israeli "Death to Arabs" Facebook group. Through organisations such as The Jewish Internet Defence force (JIDF) 'control was seized' of anti-Israel Facebook groups and pressure was applied through the courts for Facebook the removal of Holocaust-denial groups. The activity of the JIDF was alarming since amongst those who they referred to as 'terror supporting antisemites' were groups that simply criticised the Israeli Government and simply exercised their right to express their opinions.

Apart from the removal of Holocaust Denial groups, nothing seemed to change. Since the CIA were implicated in setting up Facebook, Facebook Twitter was used for US Military recruiting and the various US Intel agencies wanted you to "be their friend" on Facebook , it made more sense for the PTB to keep tags on what groups citizens were involved with and whether they posed a threat to the State. By early 2009 The U.S. Government had over 400,000 records of such ''dissidents' on its terror watchlist:
The controversial list, according to the report issued by the Office of the Inspector General Audit Division, is a combined database of various federal law enforcement agencies, administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) via its Terrorist Screening Center (TSC).
As well as authors, this list was used to divert an Air France plane because one passenger was a journalist critical of U.S. Foreign Policy.

This trend continued.

The End of Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality
© La Times
If you remember what was happening in 2009 there was much excitement over the rapidly increasing internet speed and movement of data storage and applications to 'the Cloud'. Now it is apparent the potential risks to online privacy were ignored:
The Cloud is looming large, offering us ways to store and share our data in ways that were never before possible. We can effortlessly share our documents and photos with our families and friends, while maintaining control over their spread using powerful granular privacy controls. But it's quickly becoming clear that the cloud isn't ready for us. Because the services we rely on are letting us down with a frequency that is simply unacceptable.
The benefits of the cloud are immense and we couldn't live without it now. Having to backup your own data and keep USBs sounds crazy now. When cloud services were initially introduced by companies such as Amazon, Google, GoGrid and Musso, it was still cheaper for companies to host their data, websites and applications on Dedicated servers. As Cloud technology expanded and reduced in price due to economies of scale, many private hosting companies went out of business, unable to compete. Once most of the competition was eliminated, that was when the media companies began exploiting their dominance and created a two-tier internet. Just as Murdoch predicted that: 'The current days of the Internet would soon be over'.

It was back in 2007 that the end of the internet as we know it was also forecast with the : FTC abandonment of net neutrality:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to abandon net neutrality and allow telecoms companies to charge websites for access. The FTC said in a report that, despite popular support for net neutrality, it was minded to let the market sort out the issue. This means that the organisation will not stand in the way of companies using differential pricing to make sure that some websites can be viewed more quickly than others. The report also counsels against net neutrality legislation.
The result was the growth of live streaming entertainment and the demise of independent websites that faced prohibitive costs and restricted bandwidth. The alternative media that provided such a valuable job of reporting objectively and counterbalancing the Main Stream Media bias, were forced out.

The End of Privacy

Also removed were the safeguards to ensure that data stored by a third party remained private. Admittedly it was inevitably going to fail because of Governments' wishes to know as much about its citizens as possible. One would have thought that The Electronic Police State - 2008 National Rankings would have prompted the UK and USA (ranked 5th and 6th respectively) to ensure civil liberties were addressed. Instead it seemed like they were in a race to the number one spot to beat China. Upon presenting their findings, the authors wrote:
In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email you send, every Internet site you surf, every post you make, every check you write, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping... are all criminal evidence, and they are held in searchable databases, for a long, long time. Whoever holds this evidence can make you look very, very bad if they care enough to do so. You can be prosecuted whenever they feel like it - the evidence is already in their database.

Perhaps you trust that your ruler will only use his evidence archives to hurt bad people. Will you also trust his successor? Do you also trust all of his subordinates, every government worker and every policeman?
Far too many people did put their trust in authority. The problem was that the corporations and Government agencies cooperated to collect and store data on citizens. The FBI were 'Going Dark' with their New Advanced Surveillance Program:
The proposed 2010 Justice Department budget published last week reveals the development of a new FBI advanced electronic surveillance program dubbed "Going Dark." The program is being budgeted $233.9 million next year.

According to the published budget summary (.pdf), the program "supports the FBI's electronic surveillance (ELSUR), intelligence collection and evidence gathering capabilities, as well as those of the greater Intelligence Community."
© unknown
The FBI also set up what was essentially Department of Precrime, the nick name derived from a popular film at the time entitled 'Minority Report':
From COINTELPRO to the illegal targeting of antiwar activists and Muslim-Americans, the FBI is America's premier political police agency. And now, from the folks who brought us Wi-Fi hacking, viral computer spyware and al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed, comes the Bureau's Department of Precrime!

A chilling new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals the breadth and scope of the FBI's Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), the Bureau's massive data-mining project.

With more than a billion records "many of which contain information on American citizens," EFF is calling on Congress to demand FBI accountability and strict oversight of this Orwellian project. By all accounts IDW is huge and growing at a geometric pace. According to the Bureau's own narrative,
It almost seems laughable today, looking back at the smoke & mirrors flip-flopping and 'U-turns' of political leaders at the time as they announced their concern for safeguarding privacy, when behind the scenes they were implementing a centralised biometric database National Identity Register. Instead of unpopular ID Cards, the UK enforced the use of Biometric Passports to collect the data of every UK Citizen. Granted, the increase in successful prosecutions based on DNA evidence has been remarkable. However, the accidental arrests due to data errors and accusations of planted DNA at crime scenes have increased also. Around the World DNA Databases were developed and eventually centralised:
UK: 1.1 million children on DNA database
FBI aimed for world's largest biometrics database
Biometric database to be formed in Israel
Bermuda Police: DNA database ready as early as next year
Australian Minister for Justice pushes for federal DNA database
Police across Europe to share DNA database
Poland to create Orwellian centralized database
The Warnings Were Already There

Is Britain turning into a police state?
The UK is heading down the path of turning into a 'surveillance state', if the government heads down the route it is taking without any opposition, according to a tech leader. Phil Zimmermann, founder of data encryption company PGP Inc, said at Infosecurity 2009 that Britain had a "pervasive surveillance culture", which had an increasingly "Orwellian" tone to it.
Zimmermann was correct to point out how, because of deteriorating economic conditions and existing contracts that were costing billions for the database state, the UK Government at the time passed on the responsibility of data collection to the Internet Service Providers, who in turn passed on those costs to consumers:
Zimmerman used the example of the government first attempting to build an internet traffic database, and then after political and public opposition, deciding to make ISPs carry the information for use later.
Thought police muscle up in Britain
Britain appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely. There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.
Russian journalist: Surveillance in 'Big Brother Britain' is worse than that during Soviet era
A Russian journalist believes the level of surveillance is worse in 'Big Brother Britain' than it was in Russia during the Soviet era. Irada Zeinalova, who is based in London, said she felt she was being constantly spied on by security cameras. She highlighted how in the UK the level of monitoring is such that even rubbish bins have computer chips fitted so councils can check what householders are throwing out.
The End of Wallets

Now in 2017, no one needs to worry about carrying ID cards, passports, keys or wallets because our credentials are embedded in our bodies at birth using a convergence of RFID and nanotechnolgy. In the MSNBC article we began with, it is clear today that Don Monro was right, except for one main point:
Forget face-recognition software; in 2017, it will be all about the eyes. "I think it's possible to free us completely from our wallets and keys using biometric technology if that's what people want in 10 years' time," said Don Monro, a professor at the University of Bath in England.
We didn't have a choice.

Mobile phone companies began incorporating radio frequency identification chips in its handsets "to track them from assembly through recycling". This opened the door for individuals to use mobile phones (now called personal communication devices or PCDs) to prove their identity. The risk of loss or theft of PCD's and malicious use of an individual's PC for access to financial, health, DNA, social and employment data was believed to be negligible because biometric authentication was installed on every handset. Voice recognition software technology was also installed but proved to be unreliable. The RFID-chipped phones replaced credit cards at supermarket check-outs using the new electronic global currency. Voice biometrics, pioneered in Australia, became the norm despite criticism at the time. However, it was increasing Biometric failures and the ability of hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in these devices that lead to the widespread compulsory implants of RFID chips.

The Pandemic Excuse

The H1N1 influenza pandemic that petered out in 2009, mutated and flared up again later that year. The Vaccination and quarantine procedures had been put in place with assistance of a Bush-created Agency NorthCom which enabled the Pentagon to lock down civil society in response to such a crisis. The Massachusetts Senate approved a pandemic flu preparation bill that had languished in the Legislature before the "swine flu" outbreak. Google became involved to help the Center for Disease Control map flu outbreaks. The numerous pieces of legislation that followed included bills that enforced mandatory RFID implantation upon receipt of a genetically coded anti-viral vaccination. This forced individuals to comply.

RFID Tracking and GPS Convergence

There was no escape from Big Brother in cars after compulsory installation of a surveillance box to track whereabouts of every vehicle. Speeding became a thing of the past after successful trials of London Taxi's and Buses for the SatNav speed-governor kit
The six-month trial starting this summer will see the gear fitted to a bus, a black cab and another 20 vehicles used by TfL road engineers, traffic managers and highway inspectors. [...] Use on private vehicles would be optional, and probably not very widespread. However, TfL does suggest that there could be incentives in the near term for private drivers to have it fitted - for instance there might be scope to reduce license points or avoid driving bans.
That was indeed the case, and as with most of the surveillance technology, the marketing convinced everyone it would make their lives easier. By the time people realised that it was being used against them it was too late. Citizens were beginning to be tracked from their homes: Big Brother wants your GPS coordinates:
The government wants to map the GPS coordinates directly to your front door! In fact this very thing is probably happening as we speak. 140,000 workers intend to map coordinates to some 140 million addresses nationwide.
In their cars: Wisconsin court upholds GPS tracking by police
Officers do not need to get warrants beforehand because GPS tracking does not involve a search or a seizure, Judge Paul Lundsten wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel based in Madison. That means "police are seemingly free to secretly track anyone's public movements with a GPS device," he wrote.
Everyone with unpaid fines or loans immediately had their vehicle disabled remotely: Big Brother is My Co-Pilot: Car Lenders Get Tough More Dealers Are Installing Engine Shutdown Devices in Cars of Folks With Bad Credit

At least the technology enabled drivers to get frequently updated with the latest promotions that could be of interest to them: Big Brother Emergency Calling Sends Ads to Your Car?
Technology that saves your life could also annoy you to death. Car dealers may soon have a system that lets them send advertising messages via the two-way voice and data telematics system in many new cars. One dealer testing the waters for Mercedes-Benz is Ewing Autohaus in Dallas. It uses Mercedes' Tele Aid communications feature to tell owners, in their cars, that if they come in for maintenance, they'll get a free car-cleaning kit, according to Automotive News. But Mercedes says the big brother scenario is far-fetched and is only, repeat only, a single-dealer test.
The End of taking our shoes off at Airports

In the Obama budget it was airport security that won increased funding over airport improvements. Global investment in Airport security lead to the expansion of virtually naked stripping by 3-D airport scanners. 'Smart' cameras became commonplace as they scrutinized everyone for evidence of suspicious activity:
They look for only a few sets of defined behaviors that may signal a cashier is not charging the customer. Using a mock-up of an Airbus, the researchers tested camera systems that would identify threats inside passenger planes. Some of the cameras on board, Ferryman said, focused on a passenger's face and upper torso, looking for telltale signs that someone may be up to no good - heavy sweating, for instance.
As the cameras became more efficient, they took the place of behavior detection officers:
Two things for air travelers to know: Body language doesn't lie, and chances are someone is studying yours as you baby-step your way through line at an airport security checkpoint. The Transportation Security Administration employs more than 2,400 specially trained people-watchers - known formally as behavior detection officers - at 161 airports across the country, including 21 at Pittsburgh International.
future brain
© NY Times
Brain scanning also became a common part of airport security checks:
Distinctive brain patterns could become the latest subject of biometric scanning after EU researchers successfully tested technology to verify ­identities for security checks. The experiments, which also examined the potential of heart rhythms to authenticate individuals, were conducted under an EU-funded inquiry into biometric systems that could be deployed at airports, borders and in sensitive locations to screen out terrorist suspects.
These complimented the trials of biometric boarding cards
The card contains an encrypted version of forefinger and thumb prints. It can be used at a dedicated gate, which checks the card, compares it to the passenger's finger or thumb print and, assuming the dabs match, opens the gate.
Many people were banned from flying at all. The eborders legislation that became law in the UK became a global programme.
The plan is to collect, in advance of travel, extensive personal information on people using airline and ferry reservation data and passengers' biometric passport data. But PAG fears Island travellers could be stopped and searched randomly - and their travel plan blocked for even minor offences, such as unpaid parking fines.
Those who didn't have unpaid debts, warrants, unpaid parking or speeding fines - "responsible citizens" - were able to travel freely and quickly in VIP Fast track systems. Combined with information gained from RFID tracking, centralised database and communications, data mining led to the two-tier society we live under today - the haves and the have-nots, the insiders and the outsiders. Those people who have been immunised and vaccinated, have clean bills of health, have good credit ratings, are fully insured, have never commited a crime, or thought crime, and fully support the policies and initiatives of the BETC Revolution lived quite well. Those not so fortunate soon dwindled in number.

It's not all gloom and doom in 2017 however. There is one amusing story currently floating around our compound. An A2 rated British Citizen who had met all of the currently essential travel requirements, was embarrassingly refused transit after the security gate flashed up a NO-FLY warning. Apparently he'd left his home in a hurry and forgot that he'd left a pan of milk on in his kitchen! Incredible huh! Due to the gas and electricity law requiring every home in the UK to be fitted with a "smart meter" the anomaly was picked up and his appliance disabled - but not until after he'd exceeded his monthly carbon-tax offsetting allowance!

Such is life in 2017. Most people seem indifferent about the highly controlled nature of their existence, then again, most people seem to have lost the ability to really care about anything at all.
© BrazilIndifference to control from the film 'Brazil'