By now, everyone must know that there is no privacy anymore in the technology that we use, especially when it comes to the internet. You think your browsing activity is visible only to those in your friends list, you are wrong. Facebook collects that information so that it can deliver ads based on your interests. You think your email is secure? Think again. Irrespective of whom you have signed up with, be it Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc, you agreed to the terms and conditions which allows the provider to read your emails if they have reason to believe they can put them in any kind of harm. Very recently, Microsoft actually went ahead and exercised that right when it had to find out who was the cause of the inter leak for the Windows 8 code.
Everything that you do is recorded, and it is another well-known fact that telephones can and are indeed tapped. Information is stored by government agencies that are supposed to be protecting the citizens of the country. When Edward Snowden leaked the NSA documents, it showed the extent to which the agency collected information about its citizens. In fact, it is one thing to keep tabs on suspected terrorists, and an entirely different to be spying on the very people you are supposed to be protecting. In fact, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter still continues to use the snail mail, especially when he is communicating to world leaders, as he is not confident that any of his emails will be safe from interception.
Cyber technology has never actually been there to protect us from such privacy invasions. In fact, when you think about it, the reams of codes that are written are always being broken down by hackers, and there has never been a concerted effort towards securing the internet from such virulent attacks. If you are a fan of conspiracy theories, one reason could be that the corporations and the government want to be able to have a hold on you, and so willingly let such loopholes exist, at the same time looking out for any unwanted attacks from outsiders. This could be closer to the truth than you might believe, and in fact, there is a whole industry of providing high-end security that runs purely based on the concept that you can never be fully protected.
There are an increasing number of people who are getting disillusioned with the internet and other such technology. Recently, Target customers had to suffer data theft from the cards that they use to shop in the stores, and the company reported a loss of millions of dollars siphoned off by data thieves. But can we ever truly live without the internet? Is it so hard to imagine going back to the time where there was no internet and yet people were able to go about their daily lives without too much concern?
Imagine if you could actually break the internet. It may seem far-fetched; surely one can’t actually break the internet. But it is not so crazy that it can’t be done. There are nodes in various cities where the data needs to go for the information to be downloaded. These nodes are in physical locations, sort of like a server room in a company. If you disable these nodes, even in a few places, you will have effectively broken the internet as the flow of information is stopped.
Now, let us for the sake of argument, say that we have destroyed these nodes so much that they can never be repaired. What happens then? Of course, at first, everything goes haywire, with e-commerce websites like Amazon and eBay the first to be affected. They would not be able to do business anymore. But eventually, things will settle down, and it won’t be so bad after all. With no more social media, maybe people will go back to making pen pals and actually meeting other people. Credit cards and debit cards would have to go back to the older method of swiping on paper.
The downside? Well, you can’t stream music and movies anymore (nor illegally download, if that’s what you do). There won’t be any Google or Wikipedia to help you with your assignments, meaning you will actually have to study to get things done. There won’t be any internet banking, meaning you will have to use cheques and cash again. Trading will not take place at the click of a button, and instead will have done on the phone with your broker.
Is it that bad, when you think about it?
There are obvious advantages of the internet, but the negatives have started to overwhelm the positives. Maybe, from this broken internet, if we can build a spy-proof communication system where information is once again freely available but without the caveat of giving away your privacy, then it certainly would be the best thing after sliced bread!
But it is hard to believe that there is a will for such a thing to ever happen. Not only would the powers-that-be not let you have your way, even the people themselves may not have the appetite to let go of the internet, even if it is temporarily. After all, it is just another form of addiction, one where we sit and yell at others by furiously punching the keys on the laptop.