Turnkey Tyranny

When Edward Snowden used the term “turnkey tyranny” (at the end of the linked video) in 2013, I did not see the governmental surveillance systems as the key feature to replace democracy with despotism. Without underestimating Edward’s big achievements and the importance of pointing out the spying on communication systems, I classified the broad surveillance still as a dangerous and illegal way undermining our privacy, but I obviously underestimated the power of the spying system, built up by the NSA and other secret services like the BND in Germany.

Everybody is under the control of the watchers. If you don’t want certain parties to record and file your online activities, e.g. from diseases you are suffering from while consulting Dr. Google over websites you are reading to internet services you are consuming. (The Black Mirror episode “Shut up and dance” shows that in a shocking way. Even though the online activities of the main characters are reprehensible and illegal, it is striking, how people could be controlled.)

Now we are facing the inauguration of the next US president, who is lacking many important personal properties for such an powerful position. You don’t need to be a conspiracy blog author to feel a mild shiver together with serious worries about worldwide safety and global economy. Not to mention the decreasing level of political debates.

Like with global warming it is probably already too late and we are under his control: Here are my suggestions to make it at least more difficult to continue intruding into our lives:

  1. Use encryption: I don’t write many private emails and I hardly find partners for PGP. Similar to Filippo Valsorda, I am also struggling with encryption of my communication. Search for end-to-end encryption apps. I like for example Wickr and it’s nerdy image after its appearance in Mr. Robot.
  2. Try to point out privacy violations in your surroundings, discuss it with the violator and write letters to the editor of established media to increase public pressure.
  3. Don’t use a smartphone. Google play and iTunes App store are market places for intruding into your life. The smartphone producer are even worse: My wife’s Chinese cell phone showed the medal table of the Olympic games 2016. It was even impossible to delete this unrequested delivery.
  4. Get rid of your internet of things devices (like web-cams): Security is not in the producer’s top 50 list. In addition, the IoT devices might be abused as part of a bot-net.

It is an irony, that both secret services named in the first paragraph use encrypted websites. The blog entry “10 Reasons To Use HTTPS” considers the first and foremost reason to use https, to protect your users privacy.