Gustavo Volmar

Capture of consciences through the internet

In several science fiction films, the population is kept subjugated by small devices that are implanted for that purpose. If someone tries to remove them, a mechanism is activated that incapacitates or kills them. The culprits are often tyrannical governments, large corporations that have assumed power, or privileged elites that exploit and oppress others.

To our knowledge, this has not been achieved anywhere, not even in North Korea, a country notorious for the rudeness of its authorities. But a different version, more indirect, is causing great concern in official entities, professionals and defenders of privacy and human rights. It is alleged that seemingly innocuous platforms and programs may be watching our every move on the web, capturing our personal data, and creating accurate profiles about our personality, preferences and, very importantly, our mistakes and weaknesses.

None of this is new, of course. We know that this has been happening for commercial purposes for several years. The current alarm in Western countries stems from the belief that foreign governments are behind these activities, for purposes of destabilization and access to political and military secrets.

Mention has been made of the possibility, for example, of carrying out blackmail for inappropriate conduct, which forces officials to reveal restricted information, or to make decisions detrimental to the nations or organizations for which they work.

In a recent academic debate on the subject, however, some of the participants questioned the seriousness of the situation. They emphasized that the real threat is not the capture of consciences or the intimidation of people. They pointed out that the greatest danger lies in the ability to cause damage to the operation of computer systems, facilities, equipment, communications networks and mechanisms of surveillance.

Doctor of Economics from Columbia University specialized in companies, markets, forecasts and risk.

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