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(ReadWith) AlwaysOnPanopticon, NetworksAgainstTheState, TheUltimatePlatformWar

Quora Answer : What are your thoughts on Theresa May's interest in regulating the internet?

Jun 5, 2017

I think it's utterly misguided, but I don't hold it against her as a personal fault / failure.

The truth is that technology has forced nation-state governments into an unwanted and insoluble dilemma : either try to destroy personal privacy and embrace Orwellian total surveillance. Or be resigned to impotence and eventual redundancy.

It's the technology itself that forces this stark choice on us. And entails that there's no convenient happy medium between the two poles. Either the government claims the right ultimately to know what those in its territory are saying and doing. Or it resigns itself to not knowing, and having no power to constrain what is said and done.

With information technology that can filter and process huge amounts of data in real time, there's very little meaningful possibility of "semi-surveillance".

It's not an enviable choice.

I think eventually we should choose to maintain privacy and accept the withering away of the state, rather than choose the panopticon. I think that's the least bad of the two options; and possibly its the inevitable one because technology will always find route-arounds for surveillance and censorship.

But I don't blame those who run governments and are responsible for trying to make government work, for taking the alternative path. The technology is an existential threat to them.

May is probably an eager early adopter of this position due to her Home Secretary experience / authoritarian tendencies and naivety about the internet. But I don't think that there are many politicians - apart from full blown anarchists - who won't eventually come to this position.

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