So the internet eh? Well what is it and what isn’t it? How does it fit into the whole media scheme of things.

Where is the internet from -the US it was originally a military thing designed to keep an infrastructure going in a post nuclear holocuastic world. When it became clear that this was less likely to be necessary it was possible to release the technology to the outside world, now forgive me for being a sceptic but anything that is released by the US military for mass consumption makes me suspicious. I know we had all the talk about the clipper chip some 10 years ago, (for those of you old enough to know that there was an internet 10 years ago -and some of us old crusties were even able to use it!), now that was to do with the backdooring of accounts by the US government, of course in the UK all that discussion wouldn’t be necessary, no we have the Official Secrets Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act to deal with all that. Even if european governments were feeling particularly libertarian of course the Americans are sitting at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire and keyword searching all mobile phone conversations and emails etc. So forgive me if I dont believe it is entirely free speech. In fact I’d go so far as to say it is worryingly to the contrary, whilst the belief of it’s freedom is still fairly high, the evidence contradicts the logic of that position. Of course governments etc. don’t want to make a big thing about that, if too many people start to think it isn’t free then they might stop using it which would remove one layer of social control and we can’t have that so we only hear about the paedophiles and the terrorists because this is positive control and we all want them to be locked up. OK so if it can be used for positive control what about the information-gathering process all the many people being investigated who don’t turn out to be terrorists or paedophiles what happens to their info.. And what about political dissidents, I have to declare an interest at this point, are we being investigated? You don’t think so? Well what about the 500000+ MI5 files which are held on British residents encompassing all members of extreme right and left-wing groups. On the right that’s the old NF and Combat 18 etc. but on the left that’s any group basically to the left of Genghis Khan. Right down to the little affiliation groups -Cuban friendly societies, any group with Socialist or Communist in it’s name or manifesto. This isn’t just made up, this comes from a centre-right aligned journalist called Timothy Garton-Ash who wrote a book called ‘The File’ about his Stasi file, he found out he had an MI5 file simply because he’d been in East Germany.

Now I’m not saying that everything you do is logged etc. but then it doesn’t have to be, with the filters such as they are it is a matter of just keeping an eye on a few people and having the potential to keep an eye on everyone else should it be deemed expedient. This isn’t some personal crusade to say they’re watching you…… they always have been! The problem is that there is no legal impediment nor technological barrier stopping them from being able to do so and this is very dangerous. It’s the same with the ‘secret’ ballot which isn’t actually very secret at all at least not if you’re in the UK and I don’t suppose we are alone in that one. No, in the UK you are sent a card with a number on it, you go to the polling station and they look you up in their book and cross you off so that you cannot vote twice -no problems so far, then they tear you off a ballot paper and on the counterfoil they write your number (the one that’s on you polling card) Hold on, you say, can you see anything else on that counterfoil? Well not on the front but take a look on the back of the previous counterfoil when they tear out your paper and you will see a small black or red serial no. this no. corresponds to the number of the ballot paper which you can also find on the back -take a look if you don’t believe me. Granted this does not mean that this information is used, but it does mean that the information is there should any authority choose to collate it for some purpose (do not forget in the case of Westminster council they did use it in the homes for votes scandal.) Likewise the preponderance of MI5 files does not mean that everyone has their phone taped and shady suited men following them around everywhere. However certain ‘sensitive’ organisations such as the BBC and BAe amongst a fair few others are entitled to consult MI5 to ask whether a file exists on an applicant. They are not entitled to know what is in the file nor the investigative status of the file they are simply told whether or not there is a file. The can make their decision accordingly. Now tell me that’s a free society where you have freedom of speech and expression and thought.

Back to the internet. What you must bear in mind is that whilst the internet is a huge melting pot of information it is ‘logged’ information that is to say it is not transient and can therefore be searched and investigated. This does mean that the authorities can build up quite a profile should they wish to do so -and remember authorities are not just limited to google searching! Of course you cannot avoid authorities having information on you so this shouldn’t stop you using the internet, but it is worth remembering if there’s something you don’t want people to know don’t put it online. You only have to look at the amount of people being caught by believing that their email is confidential to realise that at the moment there is a difference between what people understand is the case of electronic information and the reality of the legal position. As with anything within capitalism if it doesn’t start out having a means of control (something that in the case of the net I seriously doubt would have been allowed to happen) then the state soon gets a handle on it and uses it for its own ends. Look at the recent commercialisation of the internet it is now so widespread that the phrase Virtual Shopping Mall has come to pass. Much of the initial subversive stuff on the net has been either cleaned up or just swamped by so many popups and adverts etc. to render it all far less malignant.

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