This is not some euphemism like the trials and tribulations of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. This is not a game, nor is it some romantic twist. It is the harsh reality of a government that didn’t get it to begin with and now as the body count ads up, it has painted itself into a corner and until it wakes up and gets active, its citizens will be placed into immediate harm. The undeniable consequence of a flaccid government set to inaction. The nice part is, is that governments at large are all on the same boat. The US, nominated as the most stupid one, followed by the European Community at large, the Commonwealth and a few more nations. It seems that in this specific case China is the only clever participant (in this specific case).
To give you the connections at hand, we need to realise what exactly is Targeted Killing. In this case it is the ‘Assassination by a state organisation outside of the judicial procedure or a battlefield’. Yet in this, the existing definition is not complete or correct. In this day and age, assassination is done in a multitude of ways, not always corporeal being lethal, but in some cases that might actually have been an act of mercy if it ended that way. So what is this about?
You might think that it started with ‘WhatsApp privacy backlash: Facebook angers users by harvesting their data‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/25/whatsapp-backlash-facebook-data-privacy-users), but you would be wrong. This is not the start, but it might be the end of the beginning. You see, the one part that people forgot is that data once captured will be an entity onto itself, it will take on a life of its own, your shadow self, but a part you no longer have control of. You see, you still control your shadow, you step away from the light and it moves your shadow, when all the light is gone, your shadow is dead, because it only lives through your indirect interaction with light. The link we have initially is: ‘WhatsApp to give users’ phone numbers to Facebook for targeted ads‘, which the Guardian published 2 days ago. You see, the subtitle “Messaging service will begin sharing private information with Facebook and is preparing to allow businesses to message users” gives us the consequence. Our data is no longer our own, we gave that right up and as such, data is now starting to get shared with people we did not consider it could be shared with. So even if we see that this reflects on ‘phone numbers’ this first step is more than that as we see ‘sharing private information‘, when you consider the quote “They will have 30 days to decide whether to opt out of their information being used for ad targeting on Facebook, but will not be able to opt out of their data being sharing with the social network“, you might get a first idea of how bad things could possibly become. The quote “Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls“, this quote seems nice, but that is not the information some are looking for. Consider how often you called a health professional. Now consider that the insurance agencies start digging into all the calls they can get their hands on. They can data-mine it by linking that to all the health professionals that work through them. Let’s put that into a state of reference you will understand.
Any person is likely to be connected to health professionals and pharmacies. Like your GP (physician), a Chemist and perhaps a Medical Clinic. Now consider that if you have called any of these places in total 4 times or more this year, your insurance could go up by 10%, and an additional 2% for any additional call in that time period. This will be worth Millions to that insurance agency, because they will get the data that involves 10% or more of their customer base. Now, this last part is a little speculative. The reason is that clear information is not out there. Some state that WhatsApp has 8% coverage in the US, whilst another source states 34%. There is no clear number we can trust because those behind WhatsApp are also aware that high numbers will cause concern, so we get bombarded with specific information, not giving us an exact picture. Yet for the US, we see that the number of users is between 26 and 79 million, which is too large a fluctuation, yet in other places like South Africa, where the usage is 68% and 72% in Brazil. Now we have another matter, because insurance agents, in these areas can form a health hazard image with much greater precision, it maximises their profits and changes a health entity into a ‘milking solution’ of healthy people, the others can sit on expensive bills and die of their own good accord.
That is what the article does not bring forth and that is what is only just below the surface. It is all happening because of two sides. On the one side, political players left too many backdoors open, meaning that in reality these players will never be prosecuted in any way. On the other side, a clear information pass to all people alarming them of the dangers that data collection brings was not in the cards either. Here, the governments get a little bit of leeway as no one truly saw the impact that social media would have, Facebook changed it in many unimaginable ways.
With WhatsApp now surpassing the 1 billion user market we now have a player that has global coverage, making that data worth a lot to some players, the insurance world is only one of them. Consider the interaction of Mobiles and the internet and what other information is being collected. That is now becoming clear and as certain cases saw in the past, data might be deleted, but will never be wiped, so as such we now have a massive issue and this is only the beginning. You see, even as the people at WhatsApp are trying to put your fear to sleep. The quote “WhatsApp said: “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”” should not diminish that fear. You see, “we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number” is not the art that matters. What does matter is what unique identifier will be shared and no matter what the foundation of that number is, once it is decomposed to its core and can be made uniquely identifiable, it will start the next push towards the epitaph of privacy.
So how does this relate to targeted killing?
You see the plain fact is, is that we no longer have a correct view on how politicians view ‘the long term’. You see, ‘for the good of all’ is now a hollow statement, especially when we consider the latest president of the US and more important, the impact that whomever comes next has. We can see that in the following links ‘Corporate tax reform is vital to boosting America’s growth‘ (Financial Times), where we see “In the intervening years, nearly every developed country has reformed its tax codes to make them more competitive than that of America. Meanwhile, the US has allowed its tax code to atrophy“, which is one way to tell the story. What is the crux is that for too long tax breaks were given to large corporations. Tax breaks that allowed them to operate for nearly free, making the revenue they obtained, to be ‘the profit they got’. In addition we see ‘Treasury Department Criticizes EU on Corporate Tax Probes‘ (at http://www.wsj.com/articles/treasury-department-criticizes-eu-on-corporate-tax-probes-1472059767), here we see “U.S. officials also see a potential risk to the federal budget. Under current law, U.S. companies owe U.S. taxes on the profits they earn around the world and get tax credits for payments to foreign governments. To the extent they pay more in Europe, they could pay less to the U.S. when they repatriate the money or when Congress imposes a mandatory tax on their stockpiled foreign profits“. Here we could go into ‘Yay, America, good for you mode‘, but the truth is that part of 325 American Consumers (many of them being non-consumer) is nothing compared to the billions of consumers companies like Apple are getting their profits from. The linked White paper (added at the end) states “Beginning in June 2014, the Commission announced that certain transfer pricing rulings given by Member States to particular taxpayers may have violated the EU’s restriction on State aid. These investigations, if continued, have considerable implications for the United States—for the U.S. government directly and for U.S. companies—in the form of potential lost tax revenue and increased barriers to cross-border investment. Critically, these investigations also undermine the multilateral progress made towards reducing tax avoidance“, a paper that comes from the US Treasury. Perhaps people there like Jacob J. Lew and Sarah Bloom Raskin should have realised the long term consequences that they thrust towards others and are now thrust back onto them. If the treasury would not have been so stupid to send a member of the USC (United States of Cowards), namely President Obama to make a presentation in The Hague in 2013, where we see a refusal to back international taxation laws to allow for tougher calls on digital companies. The official quote was “senior officials in Washington have made it known they will not stand for rule changes that narrowly target the activities of some of the nation’s fastest growing multinationals“. I dealt with this in my articles ‘Delusional‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/07/delusional/) and ‘Ignoranus Totalicus‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/04/24/ignoranus-totalicus/), which I wrote on April 7th and 24th of this year. So perhaps hoping for as they state it an “unforeseeable departure from the status quo” was not the best idea to have, especially as maintaining the Status Quo screwed up Greece for economic life and it got them Brexit! Two elements that will push taxation changes in the European Union even further.
So how stupid were they?
Well, from one side we could state ‘extremely so’, yet that would ignore the part that is ignored by many. The truth is that players like Apple, Google and Facebook now have powers that exceed many governments and they have the benefit of not being in debt. So it amounts to Facebook giving a presentation to these so called ‘Senior Officials’ in Washington with on the last slide they see ‘Monkey see, Monkey do!’, and the presentation, minus the final slide gets send around by so called senior officials. Our lives now firmly in the hands of non-elected officials.
That is the crux, because it can only stop with massive changes to the taxation system, with the dangers that it will break the back of national economies. It is that regard that made Brexit a necessary evil and when official discussions start in 2017 as Article 50 comes into play, the line of taxation will change even more. All because those who needed to advocate change were unwilling to clearly speak out and now hell comes for its pound of flesh.
Now we can complete the targeted killing part that was unclear. You see the definition should be: ‘The Assassination by a ruling organisation outside of the Judicial procedure or a battlefield‘, which now puts Facebook in play. You see, when Brad J. Bushman Ph.D. wrote ‘It’s Time to Kill the Death Penalty‘ (at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201401/it-s-time-kill-the-death-penalty), he forgot a few parts. Now, this is a good article and seeing the sides he discusses in the frame it was written is well worth reading. Yet, when he states “The Death Penalty Models the behaviour it seeks to Prevent” is about the act of corporeally killing a person. Then we get ‘You Might Kill the Wrong Person‘ which is a valid argument any day of the week. Now consider those who would kill you in different ways. When Facebook bans you for life, it stops you from interacting and as such you become a social pariah, an outcast and you are withdrawn from social circles, yet their model is not about your limit to interaction. When they sell on your data you run the risk to get barred from certain rights. Rights to medical support as insurance agents find you a risk and make the monthly fee no longer affordable. It will potentially change your data as you are a risk to finances and limit or stop creditability for a house. Algorithms will stop you to move forward. You will be dead in the soul as the rightful interactions for your way of life are removed from you, mostly all from predictive modelling, an expected future, not a given fact. You become guilty until proven incorrectly processed. It is still targeted killing, but one of a different kind. And in all this Facebook would never be made accountable for any of this. That is the part that all seem to ignore. Those who do prosecute it will try to get a large fine out of it, yet the people wronged will still be regarded as ‘executed’.
Now in light of all this and all of you would have seen, consider the statement that the ACLU gave “The capital punishment system is discriminatory and arbitrary and inherently violates the Constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. The ACLU opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, and looks forward to the day when the United States joins the majority of nations in abolishing it“, being excluded from healthcare as insurers make certain paths unaffordable is certainly discriminatory, especially as the true vetting of the data that is used against the people cannot be verified and is forced upon a ‘victim’. In addition, the isolation that results from these actions can be regarded as torture.
So how was there not a stronger level of protection? That part is harder to argue as it was your personal freedom to join up to these services and once the data is given, when the service changes its foundational work, we have no say over the removal of already collected data. So when we consider the quote “The service will not be merged with Facebook’s other chat-based service Messenger or photo-sharing service Instagram. But all services under Facebook will gain access to WhatsApp users’ phone numbers and other account information, and it can be used to suggest contacts be added as friends“, so now we see the dangers that professional contacts become social contacts (read: ‘friends’). I have seen that this could end up being a great way to kill your own career and in this day and age, those without a job tend to lose a lot more than just a job. An efficient and bloodless way to expedite targeted killing whilst not leaving any blood on the floor or a corpse. They are true fears beyond the death sentence in this day and age, a fear which cannot be altered as taxation dollar to support these people are not coming in any day soon. It is a potential nightmare to many registered users. If only the right laws had been enacted to prevent this from happening. So even as there might not be any validity in targeted killing, we are now in a place where it can happen, and it is not considered as such, as there is no corpse to process and in the corporate spreadsheets validity is not an actionable point, it merely is not illegal, making it valid and legal for all pushing towards an economy of data sales.
Have a great evening and do not forget to update your status to ‘it’s complicated‘, because it truly is about to become that for plenty of registered social media users.