Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big Data and Other Fascist Tendencies

Just about every blogger and columnist is getting into this act. Here is one of the more perceptive:
The Price of the Panopticon - THE revelation that the federal government has been secretly gathering records on the phone calls and online activities of millions of Americans and foreigners seems not to have alarmed most Americans. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center over the four days immediately after the news first broke found that just 41 percent of Americans deemed it unacceptable that the National Security Agency “has been getting secret court orders to track telephone calls of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism.”
So most people aren't very concerned about this yet. But just imagine if such big data capabilities came under the control of an authoritarian government such as Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Germany. Can't happen in my country? Hopefully not.

Now, think back to the circumstances surrounding Hitler's and Mussolini's rise to power:

  • Deep economic depression.
  • Resurgent extreme nationalism.
  • Strong alliances between big business and government.
  • Convergent interests between big business and a professional military establishment.

Does any of this look familiar?