We have learned that mass surveillance and shady intelligence operations are not just about national security. The wider term “national interest” is often used and it is obvious that some practices in this area are used to curb dissent.
The NSA has engaged in surveillance of economic targets. In my country, Sweden, surveillance laws openly mention national economic interest. Intelligence organisations, counter espionage and the police often have a clearly stated objective to preserve existing structures and status quo in society.
Obviously we can expect some interesting conflicts in this field.
Wikileaks is a high profile example. Truth about what’s really going on is not popular with politicians and in the government apparatchik. So they use what resources they have to silence or to discredit the messenger.
And what will happen when governments realize that they are losing their grip on money?
It doesn’t have to be a breakdown of the traditional monetary system. (Though, it might be.) My guess is that a wider adoption of digital currencies would be enough do the trick. That would move power from the state to citizens in a way most governments cannot tolerate.
Take Cyprus as example: It wouldn’t have been possible for the Cypriot government to confiscate a large portion of citizens bank deposits if people had been using Bitcoins instead of Euros.
Or imagine what will happen if people move to adopt digital currency because it is more stable than government fiat money. This would cause serious political problems. Probably to the extent where governments won’t have it anymore.
The mere possibility that something (that politicians don’t really understand) could undermine national currencies and our centralized, controlled economies will be considered a major worry. Possibly big enough for governments to let the dogs loose. And if that happens, the digital currency community will be considered and treated like other threats to society. Like terrorists.
It will not only be individuals. From the Snowden files we have learned that governments now are labeling categories of people as terrorists, with no need for proof of any “wrongdoing” on an individual level.
Anonymity and cryptography are other concerns for government, that might be serious enough for it to pick a fight over. And tomorrow will bring other, brand new challenges to government power and authority.
We do live in interesting times.
Personally I consider decentralized systems, openness, pluralism, privacy and civil rights to be crucial for a free, democratic and tolerable society. Important enough to fight for. But I also know our enemies. So I fear that we might be in for a bumpy ride.
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Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance and Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks and Its Supporters »
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