The Internet was never ours

Many a people believe that the Internet was invented in the early 90s, just as many think that the Internet was invented as some sort of freedom fighting tool for the masses around the world. I wish to correct those two errors. The Intergalactic Network (the Internet) was invented by Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn between 1972 and 1974 but it was not until the early 1980s that the TCP/IP protocol suite (the Internet) was standardized. Secondly the Internet was preceded by the Advanced Research Project Agency Network (ARPANET). This project was developed by the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), a military branch within the U.S Department of Defense that developed top secret systems and weapons. The research was initiated as a military plan during the Cold War in the early 1960s as a counter to the nuclear weapon that was allegedly in the Soviet Union’s arsenal. So thanks to the war between the Western bloc and Eastern bloc ‘we’ have the Internet today.

As to why the masses might have come to believe that they own the Internet only one man can answer. In 1989 the British computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web which commercialised the Internet as we know it today in the early 90s. It is no surprise that many have come to worship Berners-Lee as the man who has delivered us from the primordial ages of Moses and Joshua into the modern times of Mark Zuckerberg and Matt Mullenweg. But one does wonder why the U.S Department of Defense caved in to the commercialisation of the Internet; what did they know that many missed? Could they have anticipated a world where you did not need a dog leash to monitor the masses? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the American government we are talking about not a bunch of monks in Tibet. As the cons would say there is always an angle to what the New World does.

It was just last week when I was wondering about how many are aware that data is the currency of the Digital Age. Sure, we cannot seem to survive without our desktops, laptops and smartphones but are we also aware of the chilling fact that these little gadgets are used as weapons against us. We are constantly on social media and the Internet giving away our personal information, but do we know that we are being monitored like prison inmates? Of course some will be quick to ridicule my hypothesis as mere paranoia. But the truth is this is our reality. Big Brother is watching.

Data mining is common practice in this age and for some of your friends it is bread and butter. I am not saying that you should launch an investigation against your friends but be careful. Isn’t it surprising that the moment you find employment you phone cannot seem to stop ringing, banks and insurance brokers calling to offer whatever they would be offering; I never pay them attention. Just three months ago Markham or Foschini would not even want to hear that you need a new outfit for an interview now they suddenly have opened an account for you; how do you think they obtained your personal information that you never shared with them before? That is data mining.

The Saturday of 07 June 2013 I woke up to a newspaper report by The Gurdian that the UK government has been using a US-run programme called PRISM to spy on the Britons. And why am I not surprised? The spy programme was designed by the American National Security Agency (NSA) and from what I could gather the Queen’s loyal subjects were not impressed, which makes sense. Just imagine how many of those who have come to worship at the temple of infidelity must have felt. All those text messages, BBMs, DMs and Facebook inboxes being displayed in public for all to see should you not co-operate with Big Brother; a bonanza for gossipers.

But I was also not impressed myself. The majority of people were actually surprised to find out that their private information was not so private. Are we that naïve as a people or is it just another case of our level of ignorance being exposed? I have to say that we were caught napping; again.

A few years back Apple Inc. came under heavy criticism for allegations of spying on its customers using the iPhone and iPad devices. The devices recorded information of where, when and how long the user stayed at a particular location. Although the tech giant escaped unscathed this was a clear indication that there is possibility that consumers are being spied on.

The futurist Raymond Kurzweil said that technology is a double-edged sword, so do not get surprised when your little gadgets are used against you; and as for the Internet, it was never owned by us mere mortals. Kgotsong!

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