I am not into conspiracies. I do not own a tinfoil hat. I do, however, read history books and study history. And, like the saying goes, those who do not know history are bound to repeat it; the correlary is more important for me, that those who do know history are bound to watch it being repeated.
Governance is once of the places that history repeats itself constantly. From Sumeria to Rome to Germany to the USA of today, governance has followed a strangely similar course: where it has been before, that is where it’s going today. The key is, I think, that humans are essentially the same today as humans were during the Greek Olympics. I know, today we tend to take a rather dim view of those “barbarians” and their relatively under-technologised cultures, but they were the same as us, just with different conditions. People make up goverments, and the governance of then is freakishly similar to the governance of today.
My point isn’t to discuss the devolution of governance from popular actualisation to polar dictatorial authouritarianism, but rather to investigate the tools available both then and now.
For instance, one of the great aid to freedom in this age is the internet and mobile communication. Equipped with those communication channels and aided by encryption techniques such as algorithmically linked keypairs and steganography total digital privacy is quit possible. As techniques to enhance privacy increase, however, so do the techniques used to invade that privacy: privacy is, after all, the great enemy of every authoritarian government. Authoritarian governments cannot have privacy because they are the most unstable of any sort of governance, prone to revolution, dissolution, and foreign incorporation.
While we can encrypt, today, agencies of the government can decrypt as well, and we have essentially no idea what sort of cypher can be decrypted and what sort of cypher cannot. But the non-technological means used in, say, Rome at the hight of its conquest, had exactly the same sort of pitfalls. Secret meetings seemed safe, but one had no idea of the goverment knew or didn’t know about the meeting. Rudimentary codes and pass-phrases could be used, but again, there is always the threat of secret infiltration.
My contention is – based on nothing but conjecture and anecdotal evidence – that means of securing privacy for whatever reason will continue to be develloped, probably always just a step ahead of the governments seeking to stamp those means out. And while there will probably never be a truly secure system, there will probably never be a system that can entirely prevent privacy. I think that every government or agency or corporation that attempts it will have difficulty succeeding.