I have come to the conclusion that this whole "Web 2.0", user created content craze is a fiendish government plot. We've learned about the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping. We can see the UK turning into a surveillance state with what seems like more CCTV cameras than people. All over the world, government are inflicting repressive measures on their people.
But I've uncovered the real plot.
Blogging, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace and all the rest... they're nothing but a global conspiracy to trick the populace into voluntarily giving up all their secrets. And it works way better than kidnapping people off the streets and spiriting them off to another country where you can torture them. The CIA does that for fun, not for information.
I've read articles that show how easy it would be to rob, stalk or kill someone based solely on information the victim makes public. I've seen one of the highest profile people on YouTube give out so much identifying information that literally anybody could find his home address. Sucks to be his family. And there are no end of stories (some apocryphal) of children placing themselves in harm's way via "social networking" sites.
And this is what people do without being deliberately tricked. Just wait until someone who actually understands how technology works gets into power. You want to know what jihadis are really up to? Set up a series of blogs/MySpace accounts/YouTube accounts making inflammatory anti-Islam statements. Make another set that are pro-jihad/anti-American. Check the I.P addresses of viewers and commenters. Find out what other sites the ones who seem particularly scary are involved in.
Hey presto! No wire tapping, no crushing of civil liberties. All you do is use the internet to let people out themselves. People, generally, are stupid. People act with very little thought for long term consequences. This is why the death penalty doesn't work as a deterrent. It works if you want revenge but it doesn't work as a deterrent. Actually, in all honesty, I'd be very surprised if this isn't happening already.
There have been several high profile instances of police busting pedophiles via the internet (including ones so badly managed that a huge number of people have probably been falsely accused.) So the same sort of sting set up for political purposes is hardly a stretch. It's just that I have very little faith in the intelligence of the people running western governments. Or maybe it's more a case that they have very little faith in their citizens. Hyperbole and fear-mongering seem to serve them well, so why should they waste too much time actually serving and protecting the populace in any meaningful way?
Every time people protest government incursions into their privacy the refrain "you have nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong" is heard. I'm starting to think the younger generations are getting so used to the idea of making everything about themselves public, that mantra will be unnecessary. When making every aspect of your life public is the norm (down to minute-to-minute Twittering) there will be no secrets.
It reminds me of the small town where I grew up. Everybody knew everybody else's business. Strangers were viewed with suspicion because we didn't know them intimately. Anyone local who dared to keep secrets or stray outside accepted norms was looked upon darkly. If they were lucky, being an outcast was the only repercussion.
Won't it be fun when wanting to maintain some shred of privacy is the only excuse the government needs to arrest you? And not laying every aspect of your life open online will raise all the suspicion necessary in the minds of a jury of your "peers" for a guaranteed conviction.