The news over the weekend has been filled with people who are, for some reason, shocked by Trump signing an order to block people from seven Muslim nations from entering the United States.
Seriously people, have you not been paying attention for the last year, he has been saying this the whole time, even the fact that he didn't block those nations where he has business links isn't surprising. Or at least it shouldn't be.
Sadly so many people seem to have thought that he was a politician and that everything he was saying during the last year was just lies. Nope, he was voted for on the grounds that he wasn't just another lying, self servicing politician looking out for their mates first and the political agenda second.
He was and is very clearly a lying, self serving businessperson looking out for his mates first and not actually having much of a political agenda. He wasn't exactly hiding this.
"Hydra was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you try to take that freedom they resist. The war taught us much, humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly".
About the only surprising thing here is that people are surprised.
Now, what is this post about, the title is from Marvel comics and the quotes are from the film Winter Soldier, Hydra, the secret organisation bent on world domination, the old new world order. Do I think Trump is a member, do I think they even exist? Good questions, what do you think.
I'm using the reference for another reason, not the blocking of people from those seven nations from entering the US, but of one of the ways that the US border services are responding and checking on people who have visas, hold permanent residency permits called "Green Cards" or who are citizens but hail from one of those seven countries.
I am referring here to the many reports of security services and border agents sweeping peoples social media and online activity to determine if they are a threat and even how they feel about President Trump. Peoples Facebook and Twitter posts are being checked to see if they have been posting negative comments about the US and Trump, all the rest as well most likely.
That's the problem with living in the digital age, unlike those of us who were born in the middle of last century and who only have to worry about a handful of embarrassing old photos, these days everything we do and say is online. Not just our lives, but our political, religious and social views, our loves and hates, every comment we make out of joy or anger.
"HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, HYDRA's New World Order will arise. We won."
We have the technology, more or less, to profile a person completely just by using their digital existence. Possible and probable responses to situations, we are read and analysed and manipulated on a daily basis but in ways that are often so subtle we don't even notice them. The browser you are using to access this web page may well have advertising sidebars or popups, showing you things you are interested in, tempting you to buy something you would like.
All because your surfing and shopping has been recorded and analysed.
Pop onto Amazon or any other big selling site you are registered with and visit a lot and you will see those recommended for you pages. Offering you products based on your previous purchases. Helpful and handy you may think, showing you new releases that you would like, not thinking just how well your buying habits have been analysed.
For 70 years, HYDRA has been secretly feeding crises, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed.
Log on to Facebook and have a look at what news and stories you get, which friends posts appear, which posts do you never see. Facebook uses algorithms to match your clicks and likes to similar posts and doesn't show you things you historically haven't clicked on. Like one sort of post often enough and it's all you will see which saves the kitten picture lovers from all that nasty politics stuff, but pause for a second and think about how that happens.
Every click, every like, who your friends are, what they like, which posts do you share, it's a long and ever growing list and it makes up...
What you like, what you dislike. Who and what you are. All sitting there in social media and your digital life.
"The 21st century is a digital book. Zola told HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores! Zola's algorithm evaluates people's past to predict their future."
Capitalism has been reading and analysing our digital existence for some time now, to target adverts and to make us buy things.
A lot of jobs these days involve background checks which include online activity such as Facebook and Twitter. Some companies actually monitor employees online activities as part of the terms and conditions of employment. Companies checking your profile before they hire you is the new norm, after all that respectable company doesn't want to hire someone whose FB page is filled with drunken and drug crazed larks.
Counter terrorism operations have also been checking suspects online activities, its normal these days to have the suspect of some act of terror be identified not by his being a quiet man who kept to himself but as someone who posted radical comments and visited extreme sites.
Nothing new in all of this.
What is new is that this is being extended to border checks, passport checks, airport checks. Want to come into the US, let's have a look at your digital profile, humm, what's this, you have been making anti American posts and you don't like Trump!
The US Customs and Border Protection agency wants to add a new line to the Visa application form:
“Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”
Your ability to visit the US, to gain a Visa for that country, could well be dependent on your online profile and posts, keeping out the undesirables by denying them a visa.
Living online in the 21st century people speak and post freely, it's no different to chatting in the pub or on the high street when you meet friends, except that what you say online can and will be recorded and can be used against you at a later time.
Outside of rumours no one is, YET, combining everything together to develop personal profiles for everyone. The task is staggering. But computer processing increases day by day and the data is archived for a time next year or the year after when computers and programs are powerful enough and sophisticated enough to profile you from your digital life.
Health cover, car insurance, taking out a loan, applying for a job, security clearance, visiting another country or even being allowed back into your own afterwards, or being monitored as a potential threat to national security because you MIGHT do something in the future.
Pre crime arrests, trials and imprisonment. Guilty of something you statistical MAY do in the future.
“Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greater clarity and visibility to 'possible' nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.”
Or not so far fetched.
All of this is normal in Sci Fi, dystopian worlds have been doing this since before such concepts as Social media even existed, life off the grid or know that you will be monitored. The protagonists of so many novels and films have highlighted exactly this sort of thing. But it's just Science Fiction, isn't it?
Did you notice that people with bills to pay and families to feed didn't even hesitate to follow Trumps order, stepped straight in and started checking social media accounts. All the comments about unconstitutional, un-American, people who didn't want to lose their jobs did what they were told without resistance. Just like they did in history, just like they do in Dystopian novels and films.
It's not a matter of if, but of when. How long will it take before all of the various tools that already exist to analyses your online activities are combined, if they haven't been already. Border checks are the start of such checks being used in the mainstream, not because you are suspected of some crime, but because you might be the sort of person they don't want to let in their country, the wrong sort of visitor or immigrant.
But this is just Trump, just the US. Stopping the wrong sort of visitor, the wrong sort of immigrant.
Controlling the borders, taking back control.
That sound familiar to you?
Never happen here you say, did you notice that at the beginning of this year Glorious Leader May bought into law the most stringent monitoring laws of any western democracy. The Five eyes agreement which swaps data between five nations on terrorists, security risks and probably these days normal citizens as well includes the US and the UK and oddly the laws of each country that protect their citizens from unwarranted spying don't apply to data provided by another nation.
Though those laws and protections of citizens are weakening steadily as old laws are dropped and new laws focus on protection against those terrorists and extremists. Though the definition of terrorist is fairly clear, the one on extremists is a lot more blurred, to the point where people like me could be included because we speak out against the government.
Heck with my online activity I could already be on the list as a potential extremist and enemy of the state, monitoring for the use of.
Good morning GCHQ monitors, I hope your day is going well. How's the weather?
All of this is possible because of our online activity and programs that bring that data together to form a profile that can then be used to manipulate our shopping, voting or even to estimate the likelihood of us committing a crime.
There is nothing we can do about this, the data is everywhere and without going very dark or moving off the grid completely it is going to happen to all of us. We will be profiled, we will be analysed and our future actions will be predicted. Rightly or wrongly software will, one day soon, be deciding if we are worthy of insurance, a visa or even being allowed to visit another country.
Nothing we can do about it.
Yes, NOTHING. Not a dammed thing.
So we need to hope (and vote) to make sure that our government shapes laws that protect us from this data and our profiles being abused. To make sure that our MPs and politicians stop those money grabbing profit driven corporations robbing us blind by manipulating our data, to ensure that the security services aren't arresting us and dumping us in a deep hole after a secret trial because some program says we have a 72% chance of being a threat to national security in the future.
We need to...
Oh forget it, look at our politicians, look at our government, look at Glorious leader May. We can't trust any of them to keep our data and profiles safe, we have no safeguards, no backstops, no protection, nothing.
We are fucked!
We live online and because of that our offline lives are becoming open books, we are at the mercy of corporate money grabbers and would be tyrants and we have no defence, nothing.
But hey, I'm paranoid, it's just me. Nothing for you lot to worry about, it's all in my head, just the paranoia. It's not like any of the things I've been talking about are actually happening. So relax, go on with your lives, everything will be fine.
HAIL HYDRA ! ! !