As the internet, and other technological feats, have allowed disempowered groups to mobilise, corporations and governments continue to utilise the same powers to monitor every aspect of our lives. Hacktivism and what is termed as sousveillance, a type of inverse surveillance, act as an antithesis to the Big Brother mentality that has become so ubiquitous in the 21st century. Technology has allowed ordinary people to observe those who watch us.
The hacktivist group Anonymous has established a significant global following since its inception in 2003. Often labelled as cyber-terrorists, the self styled “freedom fighters” have developed a reputation for their ability to assemble through technology and operate through a decentralized command structure. The threat they pose to governments and other organizations is exacerbated through the idea that they have no attributable leader, their power base is spread worldwide, and that they are driven by ideas as opposed to directives from a dominant authority. In a general sense, Anonymous professes to oppose internet censorship, and the network frequently targets corporations, religious organisations, and critically, government agencies. After their association with the global Occupy movement and the Arab Spring, many governments have come to fear the power that such organisations wield.
The power balance, however, is still grossly disproportionate, and it is said to be tipping rapidly in favour of those at the top who desire control. Our online activity is monitored now more than ever before , typically by corporations in a bid to sell us stuff, but we are also monitored by the government. The launch of Google Glass has sparked fears that, as once inanimate objects adopt a digital quality, especially ones that connect to the internet, then soon our offline statuses will remain permanently switched on. It must be said that such technology will undoubtedly bring with it a whole host of incredible possibilities for the future. However, as everything we do is recorded and stored one must ask who has access to this information?
As so many companies worldwide harness the power to process and store our data, how will laws govern who has control of it? Perhaps we are looking at a future where privacy is something of the distant past, where privacy settings provide us with only an illusion of security. Perhaps we are looking at a future where the only strangers who will have access to your information are those who are prepared to pay for it? Either that, or they hold a contract with Big Brother.