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[O]ur journey throughout human history has always been an uphill struggle. Whether it’s dealing with advancement, issues in society, and issues in leadership, or economic challenges, we’ve seen it all.
But think back to the hot topic of the past few years of the decade and it’ll point to one thing: privacy and anonymity. While it has only manifested itself in digital forms so far, the threat of relinquishing our privacy is starting to become ever more real. Real enough to even throw our identity in the turmoil.
When the internet was new, it was easy to live and breathe anonymously without the threat of someone doing an NSA-style report on you. You could be Star4ox78 or war_song98 without anyone batting an eye.
However, that dynamic has changed. You’re now expected to use your phone number and real name for just about any service you use. Attempts at privacy become futile when you have web trackers sniffing your every move.
Clearly, anonymity doesn’t mean the same thing it used to just a couple of years ago. While you used to be nearly invisible online, now you just hope your online activity is boring enough for anyone to not care.
So, does that mean we’re staring at the end of anonymity? Are we tagged for life if we even touch something with internet access? Actually, no. Far from it.
The internet has come a long way from being the Wild West of random forums and weird message boards. For one, it’s gotten more mainstream. So mainstream that it has leaked itself into real life.
When switching the TV in the past couple of months, you would see news about internet privacy. The common person is starting to learn more and more about the importance of staying hidden, and they want in.
In 2008, you would be considered a powerful user if you knew how to set up your own VPN and onion routing to mask yourself online. Now, you’re just an average person that knows how to google. It’s never been easier to just hide yourself without wasting too much of your time and effort. Speaking of…
It’s undeniable how much the internet has made us take our privacy seriously. That only means that the next step is to bring it all into the real world.
It isn’t impossible to imagine that our future will be based around keeping records of every single living soul.
China is already living in it; it isn’t unreasonable to expect other governments to follow suit. We could be living in a world where we’re ID-tagged the moment we step out of our front door.
It may seem like a dystopian post-apocalyptic future straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s not a done deal yet. With the right kind of response, it may never be.
It’s easy to push some strict, shady policies on people and expect them to be too powerless and too lazy to care. However, do it long enough and there will be some pushback.
Shady internet practices have existed for decades, but they’re being dug out and vilified thanks to lobbying attempts. It highlighted a very important problem.
Anonymity should have been granted as a right when, in fact, it was being treated as a selective privilege. By the corporate entities, at least.
Today, everyone recognizes that they have the right to be anonymous, whether it’s when browsing some random site or driving on the road. Our society is starting to hold the importance of privacy dear and it is doing everything to keep it that way.
The idea of sneaking something under our noses as a basic corporate practice is almost gone. Every Jane and Joe is well-aware of how the system works and how it might be tipped against their favor.
Our future has already been shaped to a great degree by the internet, so it’s not out of the realm to expect it to extend to IDs. The days of using a piece of plastic to let everyone know who you are will be soon wiped from existence.
Besides, IDs will be transitioning over to a digital medium anyway. You might be holding up something like your subway pass up to a scanner to prove your identity. It’s the obvious way forward. Funnily enough, that can lead to more privacy.
If you think about it, you can live out your life purely out of your home without even revealing your face or your credentials.
The idea of VPNs eliminated the prospects of geo-tracking and tech like Tor made IP tracing a thing of the past. When it came to payments, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin stopped you from having to reach for your credit card every time.
If IDs make their way to being validated digitally, it’s not impossible to see that it can be vulnerable to bypassing or replicating attempts.
Those in less privileged or underdeveloped countries might even disappear completely off the grid without any paper trail of their identification.
It’s definitely not happening overnight, but our society is slowly being molded and shaped by the greater need for anonymity in the recent years. One day, it could very well lead to the eradication of ID as we know it.