Little did we know.
Many people who are living in what is called western democracies winced at the news about Chinese government is using a mobile application which shames debtors by publicly sharing their private information via a mobile app. By western standards it seems unreasonable infringement of privacy that through the app one can see the actual map of debtors with their name, court case number and partial address. Probably most of us had a thought – “Thank goodness I am not controlled throughout my phone”.
Who across the Europe in January 2020 would have thought that in April 2020 European citizen’s movement would be monitored and subsequently controlled throughout their mobile device.
During the lockdown, many EU countries such as Greece and Cyprus, embraced the use of mobile phones as a means of monitoring their citizens. When one can only leave home with an electronic permit delivered by SMS, issued for a very short list of reasons, with your ID, you know the Government is using technology to oppress the people (even if the oppression was purposeful and justified). Notably, lone jogging in the park wasn’t in that list. Notwithstanding the flaws in the delivery of the system, concocted in hurry system, people were fined for actual or perceived disobedience.
In Israel on top of the deployment of a similar SMS permission system, the state went a step further and used mobile triangulation technology usually reserved for monitoring Palestinians, to identify those who happened to pass by the COVID diagnosed person. Citizens were tracked and identified by the security services and asked to put themselves into total home quarantine. Infringers were threatened with criminal prosecution and possible jail terms if they did not comply.
People are pressured by Governments via the Big Brothers Little helper – our mobile devices.
Abruptly the same pressure took 180 degree turn and now USA people are holding to account their establishment. The mobile phone happened to be a necessary tool for the protestors.
Thousands of people glued to the screen observing with shock and disgust the incidence of police brutality in USA. The stream of mobile footages published during the riots does not let the anger ignited by George Floyd’s murder subside.
The murder of Mr George Floyd wasn’t new in terms of systematic occurrence. Riots in response to racial oppression occur roughly every two decades in USA for the last century. What was new, is that the teenage girl Darnella Frazier recorded the whole thing on the mobile phone. That mobile footage is a crucial element – viral footage makes it very difficult to “unsee” or fudge an issue.
Now challenged status quo in USA wasn’t a secret for anyone. That is apparent in the video with Amy Cooper acting out the state of distress when calling police on Christian Cooper (name sakes, no relation). Madam Cooper used existing police prejudice as a tool. Subsequently after the video was published public she lost her job. Also the footage now is a part of a case in public discussion and a demand for the systematic change.
Over and over all news channels are playing the footage of an elderly man, Martin Gugino, a Catholic peace activist, being knocked to the ground and bleeding from an impact by whole crowd of police in riot kits. Police for years was turning paramilitary, excessively armed and trained in the paradigm of “us” and “them”, egged on thinking of themselves as “predators”. Any social instability had a potential to turn such flammable police class against all civilian classes of society. Intrinsic purpose of police as society service went lopsided. Two police officers have now been charged with assault.
There is an ongoing stream of footage that lets us watch the police in action in an unprecedented scale; how many of them are made with a phone camera?
It’s hard to digest what we see and even harder to fit it all without omissions into one simple narrative.
Other clips show the nuances and complexity to the existing state of affairs. Videos like police officers kneeling in memory of George Floyd’s death or another policemen engaging in a conversation with protesters, defusing the situation in a civil and professional manner.
And the footages of looters and vandals who also claiming to be protesters using the protest as an excuse to indulge themselves in violence and distraction, fooling themselves and others that their action aid the cause.
Big Brothers Eye sees both ways.
For centuries the establishment were hidden in a sacral ivory tower from populaces. Camera doesn’t have a class segregation filter so now people and their governments see each other as close and clear as they never did before in history. Both sides are aghast for different reasons.
Lockdown wouldn’t be possible without majority of population having mobile phones. Lockdown rules demanded a great sacrifice of essential civil rights. Citizens are expected to comply. It naturally pushes people to look closer and harder at systems and people in power who interfere with their life on an everyday level.
There always been a cognisable influence of government policies on our everyday life, but it wasn’t that apparent without the instant connection web. Mobile phones legitimately are changing the way we live.
Social scientists claim that there is a growing demand across the countries for the quality participatory democracy. People want to have their say in policies which dictate them how to live. Citizen, don’t be weary of Big Brother, you can turn him to your advantage with your own Little Helper. Just like USA people doing right now.
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