A Look Back, A Look Ahead

Happy Holidays everyone! Regardless of your religious persuasion (or even if you don’t have one!) you’d have to agree it was a year of leaps and bounds in technology, and a tumultuous one for privacy. It was laden with legislative attempts attacking privacy and promoting strident surveillance, and was awash with anti-government surveillance rhetoric.

The year saw the transition of Edward Snowden from the vilified traitor of two years ago to a sage commentator on the world scene. What we also witnessed was the proliferation of Stingray use and abuse, an ever more acrimonious debate on weakening encryption, and more cooperation between the tech companies and the government. While these issues are not likely to go away, the consensus seems to be that in a lame-duck year for the US presidential incumbent, Barack Obama, and with Congress jockeying not to produce measures that may hamstring their favored candidates, the frothy anti-privacy, pro- security sea may calm down a bit.

The fly in the ointment is, of course, terrorism. Polls in the US see this, and the attendant fear of it, as a major issue. According to some polls, more than 60% of Democrats and a whopping 80% of Republicans peg this a priority issue. To be sure, the candidates will use this as a truncheon to gain sway with voters by beating them over the head with the controversy. The good news is that candidates don’t enact legislation. I guess Sens. Rubio, Cruz, Graham, and Sanders have the ability to introduce measures, but they’re not likely to gain much traction with a Congress running scared (as I mentioned,) and with a president – lame duck though he may be- holding the veto pen.

Whatever the outcome of the Presidential and Congressional elections, afterward there will be ample time to gauge freshly the mood of the electorate based on the polling regarding issues like terrorism, security over privacy, and encryption. For make no mistake, the fight against terrorism – most notably ISIS – is likely to span a decade, according to many experts.

And if they’re finally uprooted from their toehold in the Middle East, it is expected they will morph and move, only to emerge in places such as Africa. And, of course, the ongoing ’’lone wolf” attacks, and those of advanced sleeper cells ready to unleash mayhem, will likely persist and increase. Therefore, one has to conclude that because of these conditions, the assault on privacy and against strong encryption will only escalate as time goes on, amid an atmosphere of fear.

While 2016 is shaping up as one dominated by fear and a defensive posture by Silicon Valley, even while privacy advocates circle the wagons, a few positive developments are worth noting and heeding. In light of what I’ve just written, i.e., a campaign is underway, Silicon Valley is surfacing as a major player in campaigns across the country by virtue of its vast wealth. It’s money and involvement could stem the anti-privacy tide, rising as a result of the terrorism backlash in the universal currency that politicians understand and for which they grovel -money.

The other notable factor is the genesis of the Millennial as a potentially potent political force. For the first time, Millennials will be a larger portion of eligible voters than the baby-boomers of the last century. The key is whether their attainment of potential political power status translates into them going to the polls. If you’re in this group, will you exercise your franchise if not your lungs this year?

Yes, 2016 is certainly shaping-up as a portentous year. BestVPN is looking to build on its successes (thanks to you!) and to deliver even greater service and content in the new year. I hope it is a great one for all you faithful readers, visitors and patrons!

Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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