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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 4:10am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 2:49am

A brave new world of hi-tech tyranny

US officials and tech company executives have rhapsodised for years about how the internet - and more recently social media - will free the world of tyranny and promote democracy. The exposure by Edward Snowden of America's massive surveillance programme rather says the opposite.

Too often, we associate tyranny with fear, pain, torture and imprisonment. But such brutal and primitive techniques are already obsolete with the most advanced political control.

These bloody techniques are only means to an end. If the same results - obedience, docility, predictable behaviour - can be achieved with your subjects' full consent, comfort and convenience, who needs to draw blood? The world's most sophisticated economy requires sophisticated tyranny. We have all heard of soft and hard power. How about soft and hard tyranny?

If government agents could walk into the homes and offices of ordinary people at will - to listen in on their private conversations, check their phone logs, cheque books and bank records, Americans would be up in arms. Such actions, in any case, would break multiple state and federal laws, the chief being the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and seizures. But what if the government can do all that without the least inconvenience to the people and without their knowledge?

That, I believe, is why more than half of Americans are unfazed about Prism, the massive surveillance program run by the US National Security Agency, according to a Pew survey.

Counterterrorism is used to justify the surveillance overkill. But if you look at the cost, scale and complexity of the programme in relation to the extremely low probability of someone dying or being injured in a terrorist attack, you must conclude it's not worth it. So the likely real rationale is social and political control.

What genius is American political capitalism! People are monitored as subjects by their government; and as consumers, with all their shopping habits, by big companies. No wonder Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are all alleged to be in bed with the NSA.

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johnwe
The temerity of John Kerry, the State and Defence departments and the spineless Baraik Obama to take the Chinese to task and broadcast their hurt on alleged Chinese net hacking is typical of the US policies of outright bullying and ****ting.
It makes you really sick and reveals how untrustworthy the US (and its allies)are. Shame, shame, shame a thousand times You feel like puking at those US speakers not matter at what level, when they even open their mouth about upright values, trust and terrorism..
If truth be told, they are the real terrorists and they use their military power and any excuse to soak up the wealth of the countries they have illegally invaded under the pretext of bringing peace and democracy to the place. They have brought death by the hundreds of thousands, desecrated historical and archeological sites and pillaged any wealth they can from those countries.
Don't let us hear another whimper from those cheating liars in thr US government.
I hope the Chinese did actually get something important from their net espionage if the reports are true and I know they are just doing what is necessary to protect state interest and security.
the sun also rises
Alex Lo is definitely right in pointing out the newest tool of government control of her people--through the internet monitoring or cyber-survellience as long been done by the U.S.'s National Security Agency and the Mainland government's national security bureau and public security bureau on the excuse of maintaining the social order or stablity while at the expanse of people's privacy and human rights plus their personal secrets.The modern soft tyranny is through the interent monitoring/survellience as disclosed by leaker, Mr.Edward Snowden who is seeking help from Hong Kong citizens and hiding now in our territory awaiting his fate--to be kidnapped by the CIA back to his home country or extradicted back there or allowed to leave for another country of his own choice such as Iceland which is not on good terms with America.Now America is worrying that this Snowden would seek refuge in China for his intelligence brought along--a valuable asset indeed.
chaz_hen
America invented and continues to practice its genius at packaging and marketing products. Even the notion of "freedom" is a product these days that the American consumers have bought into like sheep to the slaughter.
This is why there are companies "too big to fail", bailouts on Wall Street happened and why banks were allowed to do insane things like BET on consumers going underwater with their home loans and defaulting. Government and Industry are one.
American tyranny and hypocrisy have been in unique force for about 40 years now and because of the inter-connectivity of the world through the 'net, it'll only get stronger.
But before everyone lavishes praise on the CCP and other despotic regimes, they's better clearly ask themselves "which evil is more acceptable"?
John Adams
Mr Lo
Again you are correct to write so forthrightly
I will be marching tomorrow at 3.00 PM
(And meanwhile the USA allows its own companies to covertly sell stuff to make WMD to the USA's own enemies, while condemning other countries which do the same thing overtly).
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What hurts me more than anything is that this sets the worst possible example for our emerging Chinese Government as the PRC gradually tries to embrace true democracy in a way that does not disrupt 1/4 of the world's population, both for its own sake and for the sake of the whole world.
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Ultimately the USA turns out to be the ultimate "world hypocrite" , and Jesus lashed out at hypocrites more than anyone else.
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I am just astonished that this has not been revealed before .
alexchankc
Hey, so in the hindsight, Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan’s comments on America being the “most corrupt” country in the world was not that wrong after all.., Only back then he was politically incorrect.. But at least I admired him speaking his mind publicly at odds with the populists.
Perhaps the biggest lesson to us as private individuals is that each of us should learn to make independent judgments, see the facts more clearly than simply rely on populist perceptions. More often than not, these perceptions are darn wrong and brainwashing us.
Only then could you live outside the soft tyranny of your opinion leaders; and that you would not continue to be their political tool for their personal advantages.
Good luck to us “Hong Kongers”.
whymak
Are you another no show at Occupy Central?
the sun also rises
we are talking about cyber-esponiage here but not 'Occupy Central'which is another different topic ! What you' whymak' care most is nothing but the proposed civil-disobedience movement 'Occuy Central' which is just the last resort if a geniune universal suffrage is not allowed for we Hongkongers in 2017 for the election of our chief executive ! Understand ?
alexchankc
Hello Negibor above,
The last time I was in a public march anywhere in the World was the 2003 July 1 500,000 protest. That was it..
I learned my lessons in life. I go to vote and do my civil duties; I join in public debates with reasoning. The most important thing is we should try to convince with reasons rather than bullying others by the tyranny of the mass. To me, that is no difference than dictatorship, if we truly believe in individual freedom.

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