Photo: Giuseppe1999 via Wikipedia

Internet Surveillance and the Impending Digital Exodus

As surveillance and control of our digital networks approaches dystopian levels, could we be heading towards a mass internet exodus?

Simon Whitehead
Oct 20, 2015 · 6 min read

Snowden revealed the NSA was harvesting millions of internet records from Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and Skype.

In June 2013, The Guardian and Washington Post revealed the disturbing depths of the unprecedented internet surveillance being conducted by the US’s National Security Agency (NSA). The program, code-named PRISM, was a rude awakening to anyone who valued their online privacy. Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the NSA was routinely harvesting millions of internet records (based on keyword matches) from major online service providers, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook and Skype. Alarmingly, this was all apparently legal under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which permits the NSA to ‘monitor the phone, email, and other communications of US citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant, provided one of the parties to the communications is outside the US’ (The Register).

Surveillance stencil by Banksy. Photo: nolifebeforecoffee via Flickr
One of the PRISM slides published by The Guardian. Photo: Wikipedia

The ‘dark web’ attracts a hive of criminal activity. Money laundering, drug dealing and child porn is rife.

With internet surveillance reaching new heights each year, it’s no surprise that a subset of internet users have turned to services which ‘anonymise’ their entire online presence. Networks such as Tor not only encrypt data sent over the internet, but also the metadata attached to it. In addition, traffic is routed through a series of relays, making it almost impossible to link online activity to a single individual. While Tor has some weaknesses, it makes metadata retention efforts significantly less effective.

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade Photo: Public domain via Wikipedia

If you mess with the net, you’re messing with our freedom, and revolution won’t be far behind.

If this is the present we’ve accepted, then a Digital Dystopia is the future we’ve earned. And we’re already seeing glimpses of this dystopia beyond the dark web. The internet has become a globally recgnised symbol of freedom: to communicate, share our knowledge; be heard and hear one another. If you mess with the net, you’re messing with our freedom, and revolution won’t be far behind.

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Digital Dystopia

Dark reflections on our addiction to technology.

    Simon Whitehead

    Written by

    Digital Dystopia observer • Gen Y • Computer programmer • Tech nerd • Futurism & science fiction addict

    Digital Dystopia

    Dark reflections on our addiction to technology.