Dec. 23, 2021. Freedom Suspended.

It is the year 2021. You live in a state with persistent, pervasive electronic surveillance. Instated with the objective of greater security and social security, you are surrounded by tiny, buzzing drones so commonplace that your senses no longer acknowledge their presence. Your work, utilities to your home, your transit options, your money — all are linked to a semantic web of identity.

In a remote office unknown to the plebeian, a hierarchical system exists of privileged access to state authorities to view your personal and professional connections. Algorithms buzz round the clock throwing out billions of event triggers every day — several millions of which are false positives which are processed by a large army of human analysts.

Unknown to you, on Dec.23 at 6.37 AM, a false alarm is triggered on your ID. Drones have identified your location and you have moved into a high surveillance zone without your knowledge. Around 7.23 AM you notice that your communicator is locked. It fails to connect you to outbound calls. Few minutes later, your home loses power and gas and internet grind to low service level mode. Minutes later you start wondering what is happening. Your attempt to unlock your home’s door fails. Panic sets in until you remember vaguely a helpline number you could call out. 1947#.

The system requests your authentication. You are informed by an electronic voice that your ID has been suspended. You are requested to raise an appeal. The call terminates after the message with little information on next steps.

Meanwhile office hours have commenced. Your colleagues at work call you for digitally signing certain documents. It was due noon today. Your explanation sounds vague to your colleagues who insist for your action. They do not recognize that with your ID suspended, your digital certificate has got revoked albeit temporarily.

In desperation, you try to utilize your spouse’s credentials to authenticate a banking transaction. Unfortunately, it triggers a series of false alarms in the back end. A snowball of ID suspensions results blocking out all of your family’s access to services.

2.23 PM. Your appeal against the false alarm on you has entered a queue of several thousands which are undergoing manual processing. In the meantime, drone data and several thousands of data points get processed.

5.43 PM — An analyst determines that you were wrongly blocked due to a false alarm and initiates a ‘revoke’ of the suspension.

6.00 PM — Normalcy returns to your life.

Congratulations ! your state machinery was more efficient than otherwise.

A hypothetical scenario based on true events experienced by the author in December 2014. Timelines are crunched to a single day to reduce impact on your psyche. Real life timelines could stretch several weeks.

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