By Nicholas West
Internet censorship is ramping up across the globe in a myriad of ways. Whether it’s Facebook/Google/Amazon directing conversation by demonitizing views critical of official narratives; outright government censorship like Australia’s recent visa revocation of controversial speaker David Icke; system-wide restrictions on Internet access as seen in Chad, Africa; or the Great Firewall of China — access to information is becoming as much of a commodity as the information itself.
Running in tandem with censorship is the rise of cybercrime as more of our data is scooped up by government and private agencies alike which find our Internet footprint and all our connected devices to be irresistible fountains of money and control.
We have clearly entered an era where our digital lives are nearly inextricable from our real-world lives, so it has become an enormously important challenge to protect our privacy when our boundaries are no longer simply 4 walls and a gate out front. Protecting oneself from intrusion takes some savvy and know-how when it comes to the interconnected digital realm. Fortunately, new tools and strategies continue to be developed with the intention to keep our lives and property safe in this new reality.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Perhaps the front line of combating censorship and cybercrime is simply the right to remain anonymous. As recounted above, however, this is easier said than done if one chooses the standard routes of accessing the Internet.
China has become the poster child for attempts to get around their system of restriction on what their citizens can and cannot see. The fact that the best VPN to use in China ranks dozens of premium and free services is illustrative of just how many private tech companies see this as an invaluable service.
A VPN essentially encrypts and re-routes your traffic to eliminate IP restrictions and other methods of geolocation and identification. This can help reduce the threat of cybercrime as well as censorship because it makes it much more difficult for hackers to access your info based on any data that they might have scoured to identify you as a potential target.
Incidentally, a VPN can also be used to circumvent the increasing amount of media blackouts that occur in various countries with respect to movies, TV shows and certain news networks.
Blockchain Decentralization and Encryption
One of the most exciting developments in recent years is the arrival of the decentralized distributed ledger system known as The Blockchain. This appears to be a much-needed answer to the increased centralization that is at the heart of all modern technocratic systems of control. In particular, the Internet of Things has already introduced massive vulnerabilities that some experts put at a 75% fail rate even as it is projected to explode in use over the coming decade.
Much of the data generated by IoT is highly personal. Smart Home devices alone have access to intimate details about our lives and daily routines. This is data that needs to be shared with other machines and services in order to be useful. But it also means there are far more openings for hackers to potentially attack. Business and governments invested in IoT also have to contend with this increased scope for a data breach by criminals, rivals or foreign enemies. The immutability of the blockchain makes it much easier to track and block a single potential compromise to wider systems, as well as offer much more secure complex authentication procedures versus single-point password systems.
The Blockchain also offers new means of publishing and accessing information that is being used more widely now that we are seeing certain independent voices being de-platformed (censored) by establishment media and social media companies often taking their directives from government. It’s something I discussed at length in a recent issue of Counter Markets.
Freedom of expression is a core principle of general human rights, and yet is is currently under assault even in democracies and constitutional republics around the world.
A new BCH-powered blockchain initiative called Bookchain is going so far as to say that this technology can “protect literature from a dystopian future.”
“Items on the blockchain cannot be subject to censorship, banning or silencing for the duration of the internet,” Bookchain’s creator details on the platform’s website.
Another new development occurred recently within our sphere of publishing: the alternative media. After enduring the recent Facebook purge, as well as attacks by Google’s “fake news” algorithms, Anti-Media has partnered with LBRY for publishing its website.
Nick Bernabe, founder of Anti-Media, commented on the new technology:
These new tools from LBRY will insulate Anti-Media from the corporate censorship we’ve recently been dealing with from Facebook and Twitter. Now our fans can find all of our content on lbry.theantimedia.com, a decentralized hub for our publishing, and our team will never lose access to our work again.
The need for human beings to communicate with others and seek truth — individually and collectively — is under assault and cannot be tolerated. We need to employ every strategy that we can devise to build and support systems of freedom. Once freedoms of expression and communication are restricted, all other freedoms are at grave risk. We have the lessons of history to guide us, let’s do our best not to have them repeated.
Nicholas West writes for Counter Markets.