From 1959 to 1975, the era of demonstration (Vietnam War) was to protest on the lawns and parks of universities and public venues. The Kent State shootings by National Guard troops in May of 1970 was not the first demonstration against government, but it certainly was the event that ignited further demonstrations at universities all over the United States. Demonstrators had no defense against armed troops and the toll was significant both in political values and individual trust in government. News organizations covered every demonstration nationally from that event onwards until the end of 1975.
There are more Internet Packets than there are bullets
Almost 40 years later, some government officials and elected official are pushing agendas that have long term consequences to its people that have similar overtones of big brother control. Today the landscape is very different. If people don't like what they see potentially becoming Law, they have a new tools without fear of an M-16 being pointed at them. At one extreme end of protest, several protests went directly onto the offensive and have launched cyber war attacks against government institutions such as Estonia. It has been alleged that a U.S. Congressman suggested cyber attacks should be ordered against North Korea. I investigated this claim and could not find a single article verifying its authenticity, but it's been reported all over the internet. A request for an interview was declined by the Congressman's office.
It doesn't stop there; non government groups are also launching political cyber attack campaigns against (VANK vs. Japan) each other. Emailing an elected official was the first step. Media tools which are now at the disposal of anyone, is an arsenal that has far more power than any individual or group in government can defeat. Instead of thousands of journalists covering a story, there is potentially billions of people reporting bits of news that are crisscrossing the globe that nobody can stop - for now. There is the potential for citizens to protest by using the internet to attack their own government, particularly in the United States and the U.K. and may believe it is their right to do so. This is not the kind of digital divide that government knows how to deal with either. The days of the Boston Tea party are long gone and we know what happened two years later and that is not a scenario that will unfold or be repeated.
Governments have seen this potential and are developing applications and systems that can defend and attack any Internet event, foreign or domestic. This is not (just) about firewalls and creating offensive capabilities, but also about proposing new laws, which many believe are the beginning of a new era of government knows best.
Information is power
Many fear this could behold a future that dictates who holds control over the Internet. Early indications are that this view has some validity. Several nations (United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, and Russia) are already monitoring and archiving significant information about their constituents. There's nothing new in knowledge that databases exist containing information about its citizens. Here's what is new: the scale and ultimate purpose. Public safety agencies are encouraged to share multiple databases of information. That has created a new culture in police enforcement and created a new breed of police officer that simply has far more information than they need or should have available to them upon which to make an appraisal or use with valid merit. We have witnessed new variants of stereotype and investigation methods police officers use which are wrong in its outcome. England's decision to maintain DNA records of individuals, even if found innocent has already caught several police officers making snap decisions that a suspect must be guilty of 'something' - is a classic example that happens routinely.
What's good for catching the bad guy maybe worse for the upstanding citizen
People realize that information is kept and archived about them. How it is used or manipulated however, is a completely different discussion. Privacy and protection from abuse of such information has now become a priority concern for everyone and currently there is a widespread worry that government simply does not have the trust of people to ensure its safeguarding. Memories of May 4, 1970 may come back to haunt many.
Governments are proposing laws allowing the tracking and archiving where users are on the Internet. These laws have their foundation in protection against illegal downloading of copyright materials and while valid, have far more reaching consequences than that purpose, and most recognize it as such - except many politicians. How much more information is the government going to track - this blog perhaps? I know that the 754th ELSG - Electronic System Group (part of the 554th ESW Wing) of the U.S. Air Force out of Hanscom Air Force Base has visited the blog, as has the Central Intelligence Agency. That doesn't mean they are monitoring or tracking this blog, but what's to stop them for doing so (hi guys! *wave*) and creating a file? - Good thing I know they're the good guys.....
Go to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 4 in this series