As firms have dumped their AI technologies into the country, it’s created a blueprint for how to surveil citizens and serves as a warning to the world.
— Read on http://www.technologyreview.com/2022/04/19/1049996/south-africa-ai-surveillance-digital-apartheid/
Opposition International has a blunt message as to the contest for digital security. Opposition parties and leaders, almost everywhere, are
losing, badly. State, corporate, and private agents are launching new Internet and Artificial Intelligence attacks to undermine the Opposition, as documented in the article above. Digital surveillance and censorship are justified as protection against foreign powers, disinformation, and public immorality.
Opposition parties currently lack the technical, legal, and financial resources to launch counter strategies. Many may lose functional privacy and access to commercial social media.
Our advice to the Opposition, at this early point, is a quarantine solution. To stay safe, assume anything digital can be found and will be used against you. Even old controversies are deep-rooted weeds. On sensitive matters, do not use electronic equipment any more than necessary, and try to have none nearby. Speak in person as much as possible, and to smaller groups to ensure there is no unauthorized electronic recording. Use digital communications to get your message out, not let others in.
Play tough on defence. Refute all accusations in SEO formatted text. Do research and document error. Present evidence to back even small accusations. Do not hesitate to reject immediately (in the same news cycle) partisan talking points issued as government business.
Some see the cyberthreat to opposition parties as hyped or not as critical as curbing hate speech. That position deserves a hearing.
Nonetheless a problem exists, as this digital age has enabled the old ambition to evade accountability by stage managing the freedoms of assembly and speech. Scholars are now documenting that the higher the digital harassment of Opposition leaders and parties, the lower the quality of governance.
Digital surveillance and harassment is not an existential crisis; it’s one more fad of awfulness. The institutions of democracy, rooted in the Age of Steam and deeper, have taken note and are rumbling up a remedy.
Until that technical and legal fix arrives, the Opposition might best harness steam power. They can improve its forensic tools of research, analysis, discovery, scrutiny, and exposure. Play louder, stronger and clearer its song of scandals uncovered and accountability saved. Facts, arguments, debates, reaching the voter, messaging hope, and sharing lived empathy.
Democracy evolves and survives through mutations. In that they resemble each other. The biggest danger is that surveillance/AI tech may exacerbate inequality. Less developed countries take longer to control misused technology. The poor and vulnerable pay the high price for adulterated drugs, unsafe machinery, and social control CCTVs. The best Opposition parties adjust and take up their cause.