Apple, the computer company that once told its customers that they should “Think Different”, the computer company that depicted itself as the opponent of Big Brother, is now helping the government of China spy on its citizens and censor the Internet.
Apple has quietly removed the OpenDoor app from the list of software that is allowed on its iPhones and iPads. OpenDoor allowed users to have randomized IP addresses, so that they could communicate without government spies knowing who they were. OpenDoor allowed evasion of Chinese government censors, too.
Also in the news this morning: Russia is setting up an electronic system inspired by the NSA, bringing the online espionage arms race to a new level. How will the Obama Administration respond? Not by reducing the scope of NSA surveillance of us all, I presume.
I know how I’m going to respond, though. I’ll respond by using the Internet less, and being more restricted in what I do when I am online.
Irregular Times has been online during three different decades now. We saw the Internet begin as a nerdy curiosity, and then emerge into an awesome tool that empowered its users. Those days are over. The Internet has become a tool for gathering information about its users, to add to the power of political and economic elites.
Now, we have entered a new stage of online history in which the Internet officially sucks.
Wired magazine, the publication that once celebrated the potential of the new online world, now writes that if you want to be live in freedom, you simply shouldn’t get on the Internet. Of course, Wired has no mission if people simply stop using the Internet, so the publication goes on to note in a separate article that students at Olin College have developed hardware that can be integrate electronic tracking into ordinary devices throughout their homes. With this hardware, people can be watched remotely as they move from room to room, and have their interactions with ordinary electronic devices monitored – by family members or by someone from the outside.
Of course, Wired doesn’t say this in so many words. It writes that the technology will “let anyone build all sorts of physical devices that interact with the people around them.”
I don’t suppose that I’ll leave the Internet behind completely. It’s a good research tool. I’m rethinking the wisdom of having a wireless network in my home, though, now that my refrigerator and microwave will “interact with the people around them”. I’m feeling a yearning for technology that waits, passively, for people to interact with it.