EDITORIAL - Volume 7, Number 3
April-May 2000

A new era is emerging on our planet. No longer do we occupy just this one observable space-time continuum, for we have now created and occupy another: cyberspace.

It started off as a resource for low-budget activists and came to be known as "the information superhighway". But now, e-commerce has taken over to the extent that if the Internet went "down" tomorrow, we would have total global financial meltdown. The Internet is already so crucial to social infrastructure that the next wars are just as likely to be fought and won in cyberspace, with electronic viruses and super-hackers. Controlling, disrupting or disinforming an enemy's computers is more cost-effective than carpet-bombing. It's a cleaner way to wage war, with no public outcry - such as that which results when NATO bombs civilians with so-called "smart" bombs. Of course, this only applies to computerised countries: the UN/NATO will continue to bomb and economically "sanitise" nations which refuse to adhere to the new international economic order.

I believe it will be the Internet that primarily facilitates the ushering-in of total globalisation, through sheer economics - "e-commerce", as it is now termed. Already, e-commerce transcends national boundaries, effectively ignoring the tariffs and taxes of sovereign states. The increasing volume of individuals and businesses trading around the world in cyberspace will ensure that we will buy our way into a new, globalised economic system. It is the only way the global community will swallow a proposed global currency. It is the most likely avenue leading to a cashless economy.

An item in Global News this issue reflects on how the Internet itself is evolving and causing us to evolve with it. A few years ago, many considered the Internet an effective resource tool for communicating and sharing research, for organising logistics - the information superhighway. Many of the original, small, Internet service providers (ISPs) have been bought by transnational media corporations - or have gone bust because they cannot compete economically with the free Internet services on offer by those same transnationals. Another giant merger or two will see virtually all Western ISPs in the hands of just two or three transnational telecommunications giants.

We are gradually realising that the Internet is the ultimate intelligence-gathering tool. Everything you write, everywhere you visit in cyberspace is monitored by computers you don't even know exist. Instead of a person making data entries into your personal file, a computer now does it. If you visit political activist sites, sex sites, religious sites, environmental sites, UFO discussion groups, an Echelon-connected computer somewhere notes what preferences you are displaying in all these categories.

Working at a computer, while alone at a desk, leads many to feel secure and private; people tend to express parts of themselves that they don't usually express to others when face-to-face - but this is just the sort of preferred intelligence information required to make assessments of people. Just when you think you are not on display, you are more exposed than ever!

In the UK, a sinister Bill has been tabled (see Global News) which amongst other things, makes it a crime to possess and use privacy encryption technology for your e-mail. Significantly, the Bill is part of an international cooperative effort by law enforcement agencies to secure legal access to all electronic communications conducted over the Internet. Australia has already enacted legislation, allowing ASIO - the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation - to penetrate anyone's computer legally, any time it likes, to do anything it likes to your computer to cover its e-tracks, for any reason it chooses to invent in the name of "national security".

Cash registers, video surveillance cameras, automatic teller machines, medical equipment, computers, TVs, e-mail, faxes and telephones are all - or soon to be - hooked up to the Internet. They will cross-match your image, whereabouts, medical records, DNA profile, history, spending habits, police records, hobbies, sexual preferences and list of friends and associates with information in databases accessible by law enforcement, taxation and government authorities as well as Big Business. Many declare that this is happening already; only now, it is just becoming more efficient!

Oops...time to go check my e-mail!

- Duncan