Digital Totalitarianism?

The US Department of State has announced that as of this month of June, those who apply for a US visa will have to submit their profiles on social networks, their email addresses and the telephone numbers they have used in the last five years.

By Iroel Sánchez

Do you plan to travel to the United States at some point? Then you have to think about it better when expressing yourself on the Internet, not just publish, share or give a “Like” on social networks, but even when sending an email or WhatsApp message.

The Department of State has announced that from this month of June, the people who request a US visa will have to submit their profiles in social networks, their email addresses and the telephone numbers they have used in the last five years. Obviously, passwords do not ask for them because, as most of these companies are North American, they do not need them, they have the back doors to their servers.

Therefore, if you intend to travel to the United States, wherever you live, where you were born and think, as you think, you will have to give the US Government everything you have done and said on the Internet in the last five years. Of course, with that information processed by powerful computers and algorithms, they will not only determine if you threaten to post a tweet on the White House tenant, but they will know much more about you than your parents, your entire family, your friends and even yourself.

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But that’s not the worst, what’s up! The worst is that a part of the planet will also think better. At least among the more than 4,400 million people who use the internet, who happen to be the ones who travel, vote in elections, buy in the markets and speak on social networks, those who think of accessing US territory are going to wonder if they should limit their political expression in the network of networks. Even some, not a few, we speak of millions, may be tempted to change it and move from criticism to flattery. It is not the political expression in general that is being limited, but that kind of political expression that can annoy the Government that gives the visas and that coincidentally is the one that with its actions causes the greatest universal rejection.

It is a pity that an ideal space for the exchange of knowledge, the political participation among equals and the facilitation of economic and social processes becomes – thanks to the work and grace of its growing concentration in a few hands – the instrument of censorship with the greatest scope in the history of humanity.

It has not been enough for the United States to access the servers of the main Internet companies, nor the ability to, using global networks, attack critical infrastructures of its adversaries – as it has done with Venezuela or Iran – violate the rules of free trade – as it has just done with the Chinese company Huawei, to induce behaviors in social networks to overthrow governments that are hostile to it, in addition to constructing false leaders, convert, based on almost infinite repetitions, into truths the most obvious lies, and pursue with harm those who use it to disseminate information that is uncomfortable to them -remember Snowden or Assange-, or to harass even suicide those who advocate -as Aaron Swartz- for a truly democratic internet and at the service of all.

And do not blame Trump alone. The masks fall because it was also not enough that Alec Ross, director of Innovation at the State Department in the time of Hillary Clinton, cannily said that the Internet was Che Guevara of the 21st century, while her boss recognized how she had used Twitter to provoke a revolt in Iran, where according to the magazine Bussines Week only 1% of the participants in the protest tweeted from within the country. Or that “a gay girl in Damascus” – which later became known as an American student in Scotland – contributed from a blog correspondingly amplified by the mainstream media to create the environment to unleash the humanitarian disaster that Syria has lived on behalf of the freedom of expression.

Today it is known that it was Ross who, according to the Foreign Policy magazine, trained the Libyan and Syrian “rebels” in the use of Information and Communication Technologies.

If Hitler’s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, said that a repeated lie can often become true, let’s think about how many times the head of the BBC has repeated, saying that in Cuba “people almost kill themselves buying a pig’s tongue” and that the police guard the lines “with high caliber weapons”.

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Nor has the herd of paid trolls sufficed -without discounting the useful fools that are sometimes voluntarily added to them- filling social networks with crude lies, but rather lynch in them -as in the time of Hitler’s fascism- poets, musicians and actors for standing up to the aggressions of the United States against Cuba or Venezuela. The induction machine that feeds virtual harassment and extremism has managed to take to the streets young people capable of burning alive people whose only crime was to “seem” chavistas, and stimulates in Cuba such inhuman behavior as filming the agony of victims of massive accidents for its subsequent posting on the internet.

How else but with the repeated lie and the promotion of conditioned reflexes was it possible to convert a significant part of the German people, one of the first populations to be literate and heiress of humanistic geniuses like Beethoven and Goethe, into fanatical followers for the extermination of other peoples?

“Lying affects knowledge; the conditioned reflex affects the ability to think. And it is not the same as to be uninformed because you have lost the ability to think, because in your mind the reflexes predominate: ‘socialism is bad, socialism is bad'”, reflected Fidel in his famous dialogue with Ignacio Ramonet, before Donald Trump will illustrate from the podium of the UN General Assembly, and also from that of the White House, what the Commander explained.

It is true that the advance of the lie contributes silences and slowness when it comes to informing, but it is also true that the first thing that a false story tells is our predisposition to react more emotionally than rationally, more by conditioned reflexes than by an analysis of who, how and why he is saying it and what interests he has to present it and not in any other way. The critical sense, the culture so as not to be deceived, is the key to distinguish, in a deceptive ocean of confused messages, the wheat from the straw.

It is interesting to note that, beyond political systems, all countries that have long resisted US hegemony, with the exception of Cuba, agree that they have their own language, a critical demographic mass and a millenary culture. Precisely, it is usually attributed to Goebbels and also to another fascist hierarch, Herman Goering, a phrase that actually has its origin in a theatrical work applauded by Hitler himself: “when I hear the word culture, I reach for the gun”.

In the antipodes of that expression, Fidel insisted that “without culture there is no possible freedom” and fostered all kinds of ways to expand knowledge and democratize access to culture in the broadest way.

Digital totalitarianism, where the owners of our internet footprint aim to lead the world with the United States in the lead, requires a process of mass brutalization, the cultivation of insensitivity and absolute depoliticization. Only by the fostering of a culture of solidarity, humanism and knowledge of how these mechanisms operate, that allows us to use these technologies without being used by them, can we survive young and small peoples at the gates of the new Reich.

IN CONTEXT:

  • In videoconference from Moscow, the ex-analyst of American systems, Edward Snowden, denounced on Monday the Government of the United States for intending to kidnap and militarize the innovations in the field of telecommunications, taking advantage of the natural human desire to communicate and exploiting it to get unlimited power .
  • “It is through the use of new platforms and algorithms […] that can change our behavior. In some cases, they are able to predict our decisions, and they can also push them towards different outcomes,” Snowden said, arguing that modern militarized technologies, with the help of social media and technological giants, are allowing governments to become “Almighty” by the magnitude of their ability to monitor, analyze and influence the behavior of people.
  • For Snowden, the need for human beings to belong to social groups is being exploited, as users of the networks voluntarily consent to provide their private data by signing carefully written agreements that almost nobody reads.

Source URL: Granma

Translated by JRE/EF

Iroel Sanchez
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Ingeniero, editor y periodista cubano. Director del programa de televisión La pupila asombrada. En Internet: La pupila insomne, pasando por EcuRed...

Iroel Sanchez

Ingeniero, editor y periodista cubano. Director del programa de televisión La pupila asombrada. En Internet: La pupila insomne, pasando por EcuRed...