Source: Forbes (thanks to Dave the Mobile Sage for the Link)
Yeah, 1984, by George Orwell, is probably going to happen. The issue is whether we remain a happy society somehow or one that falls into darkness like in the book or lives behind the Iron Curtain during the dark days of the Cold War. Either way, we are controlled - every aspect of our lives, self-censorship, probably under constant threat to give powerful gov groups more and more power, etc.
Well, we're not quite there yet but given the lack of privacy these days because of government data collection, such as PRISM operated by the NSA, it's no surprise that the government, not the US as I'm sure other powers are moving closer towards this, is trying to make it easier to collect more information about us and maintain massive databases from which powerful computers can mine information and connections about us that we might not even know.
The United States Postal Services has a contract with a Toronto-based company, SecureKey, to provide a cloud-based authentication system for individuals to access personal information maintained by various government agencies.
Sounds good? Sure, very convenient. In fact, I'm for convenience. Just like my Apple ID or Google account, they've made my life easier. Canadians already do it. And with National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace and Identity, Credential and Access Management, Americans like myself will soon get this convenience.
And it's important. Right now, our social and medical benefits or information scattered across a wide range of database. It's hard to keep track and downright confusing. So, this could arguably help Americans get a better handle on their personal information relating to government programs.
Having said that, what if the US government eventually mandates that we tie in all our banking, online trading, and credit card accounts to it as well - all in the name of convenience. Maybe even say that it'll help secure our borders.
Then also our e-mails and phone accounts. One account, the one that the government issued, to rule them all. Tie it into your Google account or whatever you use. Convenience. And reduce viruses, spams, malware, etc.
Our water, gas, and electric bills. To increase conservation. Convenience and save money.
The idea behind Securekey, who proclaims to follow federal privacy guidelines what for what's worth, allows information to be transmitted without knowing who the third-parties or their identities. Also, when using this new ID for government services, it makes sure that one agency doesn't track what the individual is doing on another. On one hand, that beats the purpose of convenience and relevant exchange of information but it's unlikely that at some point, these artificial walls won't be broken down later.
How does this impact us from a privacy/surveillance standpoint? As an idea, this is good on many levels. However, the spirit of such a program or any other government or even private ones are not always observed and respected in practice. Furthermore, once the new ID becomes indispensable, changes to how the ID is used and what can be done with the information collected will be made.
And whatever the public outcry may be at that time, the government will back down a bit, we'll think we've won. Then some dumbass congressman, who just had his coffers replenished by lobbyists, will try again and we'll repeat this whole dance again.
Massive government databases or ID programs are not the problem. The real problem is society and our tolerance or willingness to trade certain freedoms and privacy for security and convenience and the price we are willing to pay for it.