A Digital Apartheid Is Upon Us

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 11, 2021

Commentary

It started innocuously. It was an acceptable drag coefficient from Facebook: just be careful what you say politically when you post something.

The quick and seemingly inexpensive brown boxes from Amazon were addictive, so just accept the sneers and derision of the self-appointed newspaper of record (subsidized by Jeff Bezos, the common owner of both).

Tweet away, but be careful next time you’re released from the penalty box.

Search all you want with Google, just ignore the first 100 returns that were algorithm-ed to shape your world view.

It’s been 10 years since the kindred dalliance between the Obama administration and the titans of Silicon Valley began to form and solidify. I point to 2010 and the summer push for Cybersecurity legislation as to when the alliance began to take shape.

The initial encounters were tepid and taken with baby steps, but now it’s difficult to tell the difference between the Democratic administrations and Big Tech. Now we know there is a price for this lifestyle we became accustomed to and the gleeful surrender of our data.

You will be deleted if you don’t conform.

Instead of working our alternative worldview and the cyber infrastructure to enable it over the past 10 years, we willingly traded freedom for convenience. Now what do we do to counteract this groveling obeisance we’re forced into when we’re the majority of the population? We need to walk away and build our own future.

Lawfare

The foundational battleground of societal warfare waged by the public/private progressive alliance is the legal battlefield. Social progressives have refined this capability to an efficient, highly effective, and ferocious art form. The alliance between the Democratic administrations and Big Tech aligned further with a legion of nonprofit organizations that are highly lawyered and have a very mature, repeatable model on how to leverage civil rights and environmental laws far beyond their original letter, spirit, and intent.

Cancel culture, massive coercion of the business environment, and intimidation of public figures (with some exceptions) is the current high point of this art form. This progressive alliance has used lawfare as the vanguard of their color revolution to take over America.

I would posit that one of the initial groups that refined lawfare from the left was the Southern Poverty Law Center. From that successful model, other activist groups moved onto other cause célèbres such as the Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980s, the takedown of Big Tobacco in the 1990s, and endless environmental browbeating that goes into attack mode when science is used to upend their litigation gravy train. It will never end—why not? It’s been very successful (and very profitable).

Those being faced with this digital McCarthyism need to relentlessly establish their own legal takedown strategy, just like they did against Big Tobacco. Using the spirit of the Civil Rights movement and the 1964 Civil Rights Act (CRA) they must develop, refine, test, and improve the arguments that demonstrate that although political speech isn’t a protected class in the CRA, the sheer volume and magnitude of Big Tech’s actions are beginning to negatively affect substantive portions of protected classes established in that law.

Some states do provide some forms of protection in relation to political views. There should be more development of the use of the RICO Act, as well as equal protection and antitrust arguments. It will take time and there will be some court losses, but just like they did, we need to relentlessly return over and over and over again, building upon little legal successes here and there. There’s money to be made in these cases, and after some success is shown, that will release a ravenous pack of trial lawyers upon Big Tech.

Our Own Data Storage

Creating alternative hosting environments for data (i.e., facilities where our data is often stored) is perhaps an action more within immediate reach in the near future. There may be big names in data-center hosting such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), but alternatives exist. This is becoming more and more of a market-based commodity, so steering clear of providers inclined to be partisan combatants is wise.

The mobile access to our data (smartphones, tablets, etc.) is a little more challenging. The two current dominant environments are Android and Apple (IOS). With that dominance comes the ability to essentially determine which apps are compatible and which are allowed to operate in their environments.

In the wake of the Jan. 6 chaos in Washington, Twitter conducted great purges of users. Many immediately moved to Parler. Parler made a bad decision and assumed their App would be offered and maintained on these environments. When Android and Apple made decisions to not offer or maintain the Parler app, it brought Parler to an immediate halt.

Gab, Rumble, and others developed their environments to be more old-school, web-based, and independent of Android and Apple and soon took many of the Twitter-to-Parler refugees. The scent of coordination between Twitter, Android, and Apple gives an opening to an antitrust lawfare counterattack.

As dominant as Android and Apple may seem, their preeminence doesn’t stretch that far into the past. And believe it or not, there are rising alternatives. In the fast-paced tech world, the peak of dominance is a transitory vapor that can come and go quickly.

Mobile alternatives are in the making, we have to vote with our dollars to help accelerate this evolution. Disruptive technologies such as 5G are always opportunities for those companies more agile, hungry, and adaptive. Android and Apple need to watch their rear-view mirrors.

Financial Systems

The growing partisan behavior by financial system providers to enforce their worldviews is perhaps the most disturbing part of recent events. This thinly veiled social activism, which may have started with a focus on gun sales, is becoming a standard part of financial firm social activism and is being applied more broadly in support of favored issues.

Access to capital is the lifeblood of businesses and citizens, and social activists know this. These financial providers are showing bolder willingness to asphyxiate any form of opposition. The financial sector not only introduced measures to limit conservatives, but at the same time, provide support to activist groups such as BLM.

The all-in nature of these financial firms is craven. Because of this, a clarion call is sounded to establish new financial firms to ensure the full spectrum and diversity of society is serviced. Bank of America started small to ensure migrants received access to capital and financial services. It can be done again.

With an eye toward the slogan from one of Jeff Bezos’s toys, let’s make sure democracy and our incredible republic don’t die in the darkness of this oppressive Digital Apartheid.

We can begin this journey in simple things such as web browsing using alternatives such as Dissenter, Brave, and DuckDuckGo, instead of the web browser that must not be named. The current Tech Titans started out small and grew giant.

With a little bit of our coordinated effort, they can be retired and become remembered only as questions in future versions of nostalgia trivia games. The sooner we start, the sooner it will happen.

Retired Col. John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now, Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. @ColonelRETJOHN

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.