I’ve just finished listening to the latest episode of Audrey Watters and Kin Lane’s fantastic Tech Gypsies Podcast. The latest, Episode 16: Weaponized Transparency, deals with one of the biggest events that have surfaced in the past week. While the DNC Hack may sound like local and minor event, it demonstrates a new wave of international and state sponsored espionage. The use of hacking and releasing that data to intervene in a political process. Aside from the Hack itself is the role that WikiLeaks played in this, and as Audrey points out, this wasn’t a leak, this was theft. Break, enter and steal in it’s digital guise. Once the poster child of an open and transparent democracy Assange has led it down a dark path. Maybe a couple of years holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy will do that to you, but WikiLeaks is now operating as an asset of the Russian state. The vibrant idealism of openness and transparency has now faded to a beige of “rights” with no sense of responsibility or purpose.
I’ve spent the last hour contemplating this concept of Weaponized Transparency. It’s such an apt description of what WikiLeaks has become and where Transparency has been taken. What doesn’t mean and where does it come from? How does something like Transparency become weaponised?
As Maciej Ceglowski has noted, we are now in the grip of Surveillance Capitalism and we are in the throes of the commoditisation is our privacy. Mined and manufactured, privacy is the new oil and it’s worth going to war for. In a war over privacy is it any wonder that Transparency has becomes weaponized?
Data has no worth once it has become ubiquitous. The next wave of the Internet of Things will only prove that. Sure, there was an attempt to make data valuable again by packaging it up and renaming it “Big Data”, but that didn’t last long. Big Data is just noise. Sure there maybe a signal in there somewhere, but as a commodity it is the same as buying a radio to listen to the static. Today it’s the absence of data that is of value. Privacy encapsulates that, and why exposing, leaking, doxing, stealing, hacking - making data available, making it transparent - is the new weapon.
It all boils down to money. This is all just another way of extracting value through the creation of a commodity. Extracting value regardless of the consequences. Fuck the forest, fuck the city, fuck the ecosystem, fuck the planet - and fuck the people.
Source: Episode 16: Weaponized Transparency
Image: Through the Drinking Glass (1) by Ze’ev Barkan CC-BY