Read This Now, Before It’s Deleted
The future for whistleblowers is grim. At a time not so far distant,
when just about everything is digital, when much of the world's Internet
traffic flows directly through the United States or allied countries,
or through the infrastructure of American companies abroad, when search
engines can find just about anything online in fractions of a second,
when the Patriot Act
and secret rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
make Google and similar tech giants tools
of the national security state (assuming organizations like the NSA
don't simply take over the search business directly), and when the
sophisticated technology can either block, alter, or delete digital
material at the push of a button, the memory hole is no longer fiction.
Leaked revelations will be as pointless as dusty old books in some
attic if no one knows about them. Go ahead and publish whatever you
want. The First Amendment allows you to do that. But what's the point if
no one will be able to read it? You might more profitably stand on a
street corner and shout at passers by. In at least one
easy-enough-to-imagine future, a set of Snowden-like revelations will be
blocked or deleted as fast as anyone can (re)post them.
The ever-developing technology of search, turned 180 degrees, will be
able to disappear things in a major way. The Internet is a vast place,
but not infinite. It is increasingly being centralized in the hands of a
few companies under the control of a few governments, with the U.S.
sitting on the major transit routes across the Internet’s backbone.
About now you should feel a chill. We’re watching, in real time, as 1984 turns from a futuristic fantasy long past into an instructional manual.
There will be no need to kill a future Edward Snowden. He will already