Lord Of The Spies Afoot On The Island Of Web 2.0
Lord of the Flies is a dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys cast-offs on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results. Published in 1954 when McCarthyism and the "Red Scare" of the Soviet Union was at its height. Flash forward almost 60 years to the day, and American are anxious once again - but this time it's not the Russians, it's our own government.
The book portrays the aftermath of an unspecified nuclear war, when marooned children were washed up on a isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The novel is a sociological treatise on a descent into savagery - when the children left to their own devices regress into a primitive state.
The inherent nature of the Internet provides a world without borders but an island nonetheless. An dangerous isle where spying has become an act of outward aggression between nations. This has been displayed recently in the lack of civility amongst leaders caused by the Snowden Effect.
Examples are becoming more and more prevalent, as witnessed by a recent cancellation to a lavish White House dinner by Brazillian President Dilma Rouseff. The reason according to the BBC was due to this South American leader feeling "aggrieved that her private communications had apparently been snooped upon by American intelligence."
When the German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Obama to complain her private mobile had been tapped, the president assured the media that the National Security Agency (NSA) "is not monitoring and will not monitor" her phone. But he was unable to tell her that it had not listened to her calls previously. His choice not to speak in the past tense was telling and tantamount to an admission that the NSA was guilty as charged.
Occurring around the same time, French President Francois Hollande complained to President Obama about the vast surveillance operation the NSA had allegedly conducted against political and business figures in France.
If the Web 2.0 world has taught us anything over the course of the last decade. it was that "trust needs to be earned." Consumers are no longer at the whim of big brands (or Big Brother, for that matter) pushing out pablum in the form of ads or public speeches for us to simply digest and not question. Today, companies like governments have to earn the trust of their demographic whether it be a niche market or an entire sovereign nation's population.
"Spying among friends is not on," complained the German Chancellor at the EU Summit in Brussels. "Trust will now have to be rebuilt."
The Snowden Effect has far-reaching ramifications -- not only to have shed a spotlight on our privacy and Internet security, but also as to what is acceptable in a world crying out for transparency.
Greatly disturbed by the recent revelations of mass Internet surveillance, the Internet Engineering Task Force has announced plans to ramp up online security, as we know it. You may never have heard of them, but the IETF is a group composed of the creators and engineers of the Internet's primary architecture.
For the IETF, Edward Snowden's revelations were "a wake-up call," said Jari Arkko, the task force's chair. Arkko spoke at a recent UN-initiated Internet Governance Forum in Bali, Indonesia. Surprised by the scale and tactics of surveillance, Arkko stated the engineers are looking at technical changes that will prevent the proliferation of monitoring of private citizens' online activity.
Yet, while this work proceeds, it may or may not be accepted by website owners and/or governments. While the IETF might be able to secure the channels of distribution through which users' data travel -- users must also be able to trust the parties where their data is stored, for instance the Cloud, Gplus and Facebook. At present, these parties can hand over user data directly to government agencies at any time, for any reason.
October 29th marked International Internet Day, the anniversary of the first moment in time, back in 1969, when the internet was used to transmit the very first electronic message. Who would have thought 44 years later that an invention intended to open the lines of communications amongst nations would reduce our actions to those of savage marooned children left to our own devious devices on an island of mistrust?