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The new social control. By Ricardo Lorenzetti

It’s important that we pay attention to some scenarios:

  • Juan distractedly walks when all of a sudden he hears a voice from de sky that says, “You can’t circulate at this time. You have to go home.” He thought it was a supernatural message, but he realized it was a directive that came from a drone guided by the authorities.
  • Angela hires a security service with a camera in order to calmly live in her house, but, soon afterwards, she perceives that those cameras are watching her and everything she does is being recorded.
  • The school board informs to its students that there will acquire digital recognition cameras that scan the students’ faces, which detect whether they are concentrated or not.
  • Maria wants to travel to the north of the country, but she can’t because she was sanctioned. There’s a system called “social credit card” that gives her points if she behaves properly and subtracts points if she misbehaves.
  • Jorge asks for medical attention, but they tell him he must pay an additional cost because he’s guilty for his illness. He hasn’t been eating healthy, he has drunk too much and he hasn’t been exercising.
  • Diana intends to work in a company but they tell her her profile isn’t appropriate. In her digital footprint they found she has been defying her bosses.
  • Rubén is enthusiastic about offers and credits he’s being offered, but in no time it’s impossible for him to cope with his debts and has to work for 12 hs a day, which wards him off his friends and family.

These few examples show a world in which people are being controlled by an exhausting way and freedom is lost without anyone realizing it.

This world already exists.

In big cities, there are television cameras, sensors, drones, facial identification, big data and artificial intelligence which allows to know every single citizen. The spread of phone apps makes every single private information go to a data base. This is good to combat terrorism, insecurity or epidemics, but it is not good when it’s in hands of authoritarian governments and when there are no boundaries.

In some countries, the implementation of the social credit card is being discussed, which adds up points if the person uses a chinstrap, respects the traffic lights, goes to bed early and doesn’t miss work. Instead, you lose points if you don’t meet those criteria of civic behavior. If the account is negative there are penalties: you cannot travel or you pay more for a service.

There are health systems that begin to penalize bad behavior. The patient is interrogated and if he hasn’t took care of himself he is guilty of the disease and pays more for the service.

Advertising – which is no longer reduced only to traditional media but invades the internet, emails and cell phones – induces consumption and electronic money rages because nobody realizes what they spend and the credit cost generates unpleasant surprises Many people are bankrupt or owe so much that they are always subject to a enslaving life. That is why there are countries beginning to educate not to borrow or enact laws related to consumer over-indebtedness.

If there are systems that can know what citizens do and what they think, it is logical to assume that there will be someone who will want to use the data for evil purposes.

The control apparatus is favored by permanent income of information of our private life in social networks, a lack of awareness of the effects that it has and an anonymous and invisible controller.

The great struggles that led to the construction of the State of law were based on critical awareness, ideals and courage to face abuse.

Today it seems that we are going through a regression and freedom is at serious risk.

In the law there are tools, both in the Constitutional order and in the Civil and Commercial Code. Also, there are many judicial sentences that protect private life, personal data, freedom and criticism. It is important that those tools are spread in order to make its use inexpensive (reasonable) and agile in economic terms for any citizen.

But, above all, it is necessary to raise awareness regarding these issues, be aware of what is happening and be clear that we must defend the historical values ​​of the rule of law and freedom as a fundamental pillar.