The World Economic Forum's (WEF's) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, recently ended. The theme of the five-day event, "Working Together, Restoring Trust," was both vague and troubling, in equal measures.
Among the many issues discussed, members focused on the spread of misinformation and disinformation. How, they asked, can the proliferation of harmful content be combated? It’s easy, they answered, how about introducing digital IDs?
As we rush “headlong into a future where new technologies will converge to make this risk much more severe,” we must prepare ourselves for the dawn of “near-perfect facial recognition technology and other identifiers, from the human gait to breath to iris," Solomon said.
According to the tech researcher, biometric databases of the not-too-distant future will be centralized in nature. Opaque in the extreme, our data will be harvested by the people in the highest positions imaginable—you know, the kind of people who travel to Davos for polite debates.
The Panopticon Gets a Digital UpgradeCanada, a country with close ties to the WEF, is actively considering the use of digital IDs. According to the Canada Gazette, the country’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has spoken with airlines about introducing “digital identity documents” and “biometric travel documents.”
More worryingly, the USPS has already partnered with the General Services Administration and the FBI, two prominent “biometric data collection pilots.”
Digital IDs Aren't Compatible With DemocracyFreedom House, an international group that was established to promote the idea of democracy, recently warned that when it comes to respecting democratic norms, such as the right to privacy, the United States is going backward.
The country’s “democratic institutions have suffered erosion, as reflected in partisan pressure on the electoral process, bias and dysfunction in the criminal justice system, harmful policies on immigration and asylum seekers, and growing disparities in wealth, economic opportunity, and political influence," Freedom House stated.
Yes, but what about digital surveillance? What about the government’s desire (and the organizations closely affiliated with the government) to spy on the American people? What about the push to mine people for data and use the information gathered to manipulate and control?
For those who doubt that the United States is backsliding, please note that Argentina and Mongolia now rank higher on the democracy ladder, according to a Freedom House 2021 report. Who's to blame for the regression? The very people elected to keep citizens safe, I contend.
The United States is fast becoming a first-world country with third-world protections for its people. No one should be happy about this. Well, almost no one, except, perhaps, the elites in Davos.