We’ve long known that governments like those in China and Iran will use whatever means they have available to them to surveil their residents at any moment possible – including internet use. The idea that ‘Western’ or liberal democracies would engage is such practices has until recently seemed harder to believe. This aricle on Ars Technica comments on a report issued by Wikileaks, detailing the kinds of technology, including malware type applications, which companies are producing and marketing to governments and law enforcement bodies around the world.
It’s not clear from the article which countries are currently using such software, though it’s pretty easy to see how governments will be tempted to use (or perhaps already in the process of acquriring and using) such software, in the wake of things like SOPA, and other encroachments into internet users’ privacy.
We currently lack a strong theory of privacy, liberty and freedom in the online sphere, and it seems that until we can argue that our human rights extend to the online world, governments will be able to continue to undertake the real life equivalent of constant personal surveillance without warrant or cause. With the expansion of the uses and usefulness of the internet comes the expansion of our online ‘self’ – we would not tolerate such government intervention and monitoring into our houses, or brains, and it’s time that this kind of advocacy became commonplace in the area of internet privacy and freedom.