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Aug 09 2013

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Ordinary tech heroes

The dictionary definition for the term hero reads; a person who, in the opinions of others, has heroic qualities or has performed heroic acts and is regarded as a ideal or model for the rest of the community. The classical definition implies that you know the person well enough to identify the hero. If you research any civilization, almost all heroes are popular characters with very unique social statuses. In this Information Age, not all leaders have the desire to be famous. But all great heroes from the history to the present have similar stories to tell.

..it is hypocritical for organizations like FoxNews, CNN and even BBC to criticize the lack of education and/or high moral backgrounds of people like Edward Joseph Snowden, while at the same time the workers in these media giants use iPhones made by a college dropout, Mr. Steve Jobs and Microsoft Windows OS made by Mr. Bill Gates who never passed a programming course.

They haven’t changed

In modern Information (technological) Age, often we disregard our history because we think the history is irrelevant. From my opinion, it is the opposite.

In 2013, most of the news in Canada has been dominated by privacy issues. Our increasing dependencies on technology has lead to redefining the term privacy. The key players in this privacy wars have both supporters and opposers. Just like in World War I or the French Revolution, a hero to some may be a villain to the others. Bradley Edward Manning and Julian Paul Assange are examples of modern day heroes or villains. Regardless if this is the 1800s or the 21-century, there is always a conflict between what is considered good and what is considered evil. The history has repeated itself and nothing much has changed. The only difference between the war lords like the Alexander the Great or the King Asoka and the modern tech world lords is the medium in which they fight. Unlike in the old days, it is not always clear what we are fighting for because the causes are often complex and dynamic. I think this is why most people are unaware of the growing problems in the modern world.

Birth of the IT heroes

Today in 2013 a Computer Engineer or a student with access to a network can cause more damage to a country than a nuclear weapon. From stock markets, educational systems, banking system all the way to the private family databases have been digitized. While it provides faster access to information, it has also significantly altered the way we fight. The same network and database that provide information on your family history like ancestry.ca can also be used to track you down by your enemies. The same fail proof DNA evidence is used in trials have been linked to wrongfully convicting innocent people.

You could be a 10 year old or a 90 year old with access to a high speed Internet connection. You could have no friends or lots of friends outside of the “networked world”. You could have Facebook and Twitter accounts or you may never had one at all. You could be formally educated as a network and computer specialist or you could be someone who never passed a single high school course. It does not matter who you are, we all can be tech heroes. I came across stories in which 90 year old using a mobile phone took pictures of a bank robbery in progress and called the police at the same time. The group of unorganized individuals known as the “Anonymous hackers” includes people as young as 10 years old.

Side note on the background of people. I found it is hypocritical for organizations like FoxNews, CNN and even BBC to criticize the lack of education and/or high moral backgrounds of people like Edward Joseph Snowden, while at the same time the workers in these media giants use iPhones made by a college dropout, Mr. Steve Jobs and Microsoft Windows OS made by Mr. Bill Gates who never passed a programming course.

To some this is a great opportunity to be a hero while to others this is a great time to be a criminal. It all depends on how you use the technology, for what purpose and what is defined as “good” and “evil”.

What is good for the society?

Who should decide what is good for our civilization? The Governments run by handful of people? The tech heroes which include people with hidden evil intentions? The large data mining companies like Google or Amazon? These are valid philosophical and logical questions we should ask ourselves. Even if we answered them who will keep these in checked and balanced? In my opinion, this will be a never ending war. Unlike the French Revolution or the World War I and II, this tech war will have much larger impact on our civilization. While you could argue that this is not as fast and violent as “traditional wars”, I can counter argue with the increased dependency on technology, we would only need a single mad person to push that button to explode a nuclear missile.

Introduction to Modern Warfare

Israel use of banned chemical weapons

Israel use of banned chemical weapons

I do not think that I have to explain to my readers who are Bradley Edward Manning and Julian Paul Assange. They became famous for WikiLeaks which released large databases containing US Government’s criminal activities around the world. They have been viewed as enemies in some politicians (who probably couldn’t even connect a computer to a projector), while others have hailed them as heroes. Either way they are only two out millions of tech heroes.

Edward Joseph Snowden is another leader in the tech war. He exposed the NSA (National criminal Security Agency) operations involving spying on multimillion droller trade deals for American companies like Microsoft and Google and spying on US citizens. Too bad the modern media controlled by the few Zionist elites do not want to publish the US spying on trade deals eh?

The group of highly unorganized tech experts known by their umbrella name “Anonymous hackers” have been exposing corruptions in Governments and Private Companies. They have also forced powerful people (similar to A. Hitler) in modern companies to step down. They have also fought for the rights of civilian victims, which otherwise have no voice to promote justice. I am not going to say if they are good or bad, but if you would like to read their projects like Occupy Wall Street, Child Pornography crack down or Rehtaeh Parsons operation, ironically Google Search is your friend.

There are other small cases such as murders like Derek Medina of Miami posting messages on Facebook admitting to killing his wife or police officers being questioned (and often not changed) after digital video evidence recorded by civilians (and even their own other officers) indicate abuse of power. The best example of this in Canada is the Robert Dziekański Taser incident which created a ripple effect in the RCMP (Royal Canadian Male-only Police). How about those RCMP male officers groping female officers or even raping them by forcing them to have sex while on duty?

Aftermath Boston Marathon explosions

Aftermath of Boston Marathon explosions

Yes there are good examples from conventional type wars. The video and photographic evidence of modern wars such as the ones in Middle East have disputed the official accounts. The use of banned chemical weapons by Israel Army OR the use of lynching of Black men by Nazis are great example of conventional hate spilling over to the tech world. Let’s not forget about the the role of technological age in Abu Ghraib prison scandal photos. I did not know US Army had sluts until I came across those images. The Boston Marathon bombings civilian video surveillance is another example of bad guys being tracked using technologies.

Bangalore : Karnataka Cooperation Minister Lakshman Savadi seen watching porn.

Bangalore : Karnataka Cooperation Minister Lakshman Savadi seen watching porn.

With mobile devices ethics of using it also can be come in to question. The Women and Child Welfare Minister CC Patil and the Co-operative Minister Laxman Savadi (BJP) of India have been cought watching pornography during the Assebly in Benglauru. While this is nothing illegal in India or even in Canada, it brings the spotlight to ethics of technology and how we use it. The irony in this particular case is the abuse of technology is proven by another technology; the TV broadcast of political proceedings in India.

Back to the basics

May be the solution for those who would like to secure data is to going back to the old technologies. The reason Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle of the Canadian military was able to copy data from secure servers in Canada to a USB drive and hand information over to Russia, is because our data on military intelligence have been digitized in recent years. After the incident, I was researching on the history of spying and realized may be physically writing down non-time critical data is not a bad idea. Think about it, if you only keep the essential data and services on digital format, it would be at least bit difficult for someone to copy the data. While it is still not fail-proof, at least it would be better than the current system of digital encryption. In old days spies are trained to memorize information not copy information on a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant, now known as Smartphones or Mobile Computing Devices). This will completely eliminate the need for secure networks all together.

In my opinion, separating data networks from one another is another way to combat security issues. If you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) with family pictures, why not simply separate the entire Internet LAN (Local Area Network) connections from the NAS connections? This will still give you the access to data on your home network while blocking all access from outside. It may not be an ideal solution for some, since you cannot access your data from outside the house, but still provide much better security than an encrypted password.

Democrazy to democracy

The point is the complications of tech world goes on and on…and in this technological age, it is difficult for anyone to keep secrets from everyone. After all, when even the authorities commit crimes, I do not see a problem in civilians taking actions to protect their community form crime and abuse. However the accountability knife should be able to cut on both ends. Both the criminals and the heroes should be held accountable for their actions. It is scary to say that it is difficult for us to keep track on who is watching whom. With billions of people with access to technology, the power has truly shifted from “democrazy” to true “democracy”.

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