National Security / Global Business = Control = Manipulation = Propaganda?

Recently, the Thai Government has outlined its policy to monitor LINE (a messaging application on smart phones), claiming to protect their national security. According to Pol. Maj. Gen. Pisit Pao-in, Chief of Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), this policy would not violate the individual’s privacy and Freedom of Expression.

He explains that these polices will allow for the monitoring of only certain Line’s users who are categorised as having the “potential to commit the crime”. This must be done on a case by case basis under the legal framework. This policy is seen as a joke by the Thai people.

Unfortunately, Thailand is not alone in having an authority which sees social media as a big threat to national security including terrorism and cybercrime. There are similar cases around our Global village, for instance, Australia, Burma, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, the UK, and Vietnam. And now Iran is following in China’s footsteps by creating intelligent software to control and filter the on-going social media activities of Iranians.

Evidently, our Freedom netizen, (internet + User) has been targeted. We have purchased this freedom with our privacy and confidentiality in order to enjoy the Free Lunch from social media providers like Facebook and Google (see my previous post). The good news is that it is not the only attempt to limit our free-flow of information.

Filter Bubble”, named by Eli Pariser, political activist from Move, is an invisible filter created by an algorithm (computer program), based on our individual interests and privacy information.

Besides gaining a big profit from their users’ information, Facebook and Google also use this filter to tailor our search results. Every time we search for some information on their browsers, they feed us the info which they think we want to see, not the standard result.

That means that they also can manipulate information anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Does that sound similar to “Hollywood or Cultural Imperialism” when they feed us their entertainment?

For internet experts, there are many choices for search engines. What’s the big deal! But, how about users who do not understand the technical aspects of the internet and people who have not got access to our Global village?

This kind of news will almost certainly not be broadcast in the mainstream media (already dominated by political economy).

Actually, either our Global village is moving forward towards democracy, or we are going back to the Propaganda Era under the name of global business.

Have your say!

  • As a Netizen, what do you think about the “Filter Bubble”?
  • Update us about the latest news of social media control situation in your country.

Below is the video of Eli Pariser, ‘Beware online “Filter Bubbles”’ at TED talk.  Duration: 9 mins with 40 languages for subtitles in your preferred language.

If you can’t turn on the subtitle option in Youtube video, you can visite directly.  They have online script for you, too.

There is no present or future, only the past happening over and over again now, Eugene O’neil.”

Criminal minds season 8, ‘Pay it forward’ episode/script.

Related links


24 thoughts on “National Security / Global Business = Control = Manipulation = Propaganda?

  1. Great topic, Kris! I must say I don’t know if I am pro this whole thing about governments placing a policy on its countries social media behaviour. Being from Indonesia, where freedom of speech is somewhat still suppressed, the government does not have much say to our social media behaviour. Although, I’m not very sure if thats a good thing, considering the happenings around this country. Maybe it serves as a benefit for some countries, and maybe it’s just ridiculous for some countries to place such a big thing on their citizens. What does everyone else think?

  2. That’s a very interesting problem. Not just with governments monitoring communication but also with the internet and their background filtering, limiting our view of the world. In effect creating a dumbed down society as opposed to broadening our understandings.

  3. This is very controversial issue. I just tell you my opinion about the topic.
    Generally speaking, authorities are most likely to maintain loopholes to access to the any data since they need to have privilege access for national security purpose. I understand this point but the thing is more clear rules need to be established to gain consensus from public. Actually these big companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Twitter have asked US Congress to update rules (ECPA) to make it clear to require a warrant to access private communications. But reality is that authorities get to decide if they should access to the particular data on an ad-hoc basis because of the law full of loopholes. From this stand point, establishing a more clear law, the court sould intervene on this issue and make rules/law more tranparent to get consensus from public. Namely giving public the right to more information of the government surveillance is inevitable steps we need to take. What I meant is that each one of us needs more clear information to find out a solution.

  4. Are we heading towards a global democracy or increased restrictions on freedom? I don’t think they are completely incompatible, but I think maybe more so the latter. Not only is the world more connected, but it is increasingly possible for small groups of people or even individuals to cause harm to large groups of people. Single hackers can cause massive disruptions to the internet, or even physical damage to infrastructure. Technologies like cheaper gene sequencing, 3D printing or nanotechnology make destructive weapons more easily accessible. The security agencies are tasked with preventing such things so privacy is for them a very distant second, and there is no large agency tasked with protecting the privacy and rights of expression of the citizenry.

    I think that over time these risks to security will only increase and that will force many countries to cooperate to manage transnational threats. It will become more and more untenable to permit, through inaction, rogue states and groups to threaten the global system. With this kind of increased international security it is more likely that the internet will come under increased scrutiny and regulation. This seems inevitable, the risks will be so great and governments are more concerned with the immediate costs of failing to prevent some threat from manifesting that they are about the long term erosion of freedom of expression and privacy. I hope we can find a tenable balance.

  5. I’m not surprise and I know it. The world is turning global and the social medias are no exception. What worries me is what individual freedom will become. Or is becoming

  6. I think it is up to the person who uses the free apps or programs to see it as a form of “returns”. As the earlier topic said so , there no free lunches.So in order to enjoy these so called “free” apps or programs , there is a small price to it. Well in the interest of national security , everything must be considered. Even for the case of prepaid mobile phones , in the past , here we do not need to register our particulars in order to purchase but dueto cases of terriorist using these to cause bombings. We need to be vigilant, we cannot afford the slightest complaceny .
    As the famous saying : ” better be safe , than sorry ” , thank you 🙂

  7. In Vietnam, although Government have not released any policy yet, however, somehow the Government still has their control to social media. Not like in China (Facebook is not allowed), people still can access to any website and social networking they want, nevertheless, during political campaign, people do not have authority to access to social media.
    Just like Indonesia and some Asian countries where freedom of speech is somewhat still suppressed, I think the Government just try to reduce the risk for their own benefits (especially for candidates who are running their political campaign)

  8. I think that over time these risks to security will only increase and that will force many countries to cooperate to manage transnational threats. It will become more and more untenable to permit, through inaction, rogue states and groups to threaten the global system. With this kind of increased international security it is more likely that the internet will come under increased scrutiny and regulation. ^^

  9. I so glad that the dumb Thai goverment could not get through Line apprecation. There is noway anybody can limit our rights to use social media in this generation, as long as the social networks are continuosly advancing there will always be advantages aswell as disadvantages. This also includes intruding others privacy.

  10. I think that it is inherent that social media will have some sort of censorship and manipulation. It was always a question of time. The naivete of social media being a medium for freedom of speech cuts both ways: you can finally put your ideas and truths out there, but you will be vulnerable when it comes to cause and effect.
    Examples of netizens having to be accountable for their “freedom of speech” through social media means the medium is by nature governed. The algorithmic editing is not about propaganda, but instead a curtailing of freedom of speech. Does that allude to propaganda? The difference between classical media and social media is the global scale that it has. But temporality of social media should also be discussed. The next wave of information flow and trend is just evidential of the speed of manipulation.
    At no time can we prove national security is at play due to social media. In the case study of the Wikileak issue, it is about exposure of truths. No other media can give such immediacy and ability for a full throttle exposure.
    We cannot forget that it is hard to select criteria for governing LINE. And why does the national security needs protection? It brings to light the need for national security to be more transparent.
    In the end, it is not so much about national threat at a global level, let it be Iran or China, because it is difficult to judge how to safe guard national security.
    It is ultimately about the true death of freedom of speech at a global level, in the guise of propaganda.

  11. Interesting article Kris. I believe we all have to be mindful in what we post online and ask ourselves, is it really necessary that we give out this information? On the other hand, can we make the system work in our advantage? Can we create an online persona that we want to project?

    As for search engine, yes privacy can be compromised but there are ways to search anonymously and ways to hide our I.P address, but is it truly necessary?

  12. Like I have heard that people in France could not tweet on Twitter because of French Government’s policy (Now I am not sure that they can use or not)

    when I was young I tried not to provide any my personal detail on any websites because I did not know them well…. Now I changed I do but just some of them

    If one government did that first, others will follow and no peace in our freedom space !!!!

    ..this is the great one, P’Kris well done & good job!!!!

  13. I really liked what Eli Pariser said about journalistic ethics and the fact that the ‘new gatekeepers’, those being the computer algorithms which ‘tailor’ our searches for us, don’t necessarily do as efficient a job. We may well get what he called ‘information junk food’ flowing onto our screens, rather than content which challenges, stimulates and reworks our thinking. It’s human nature to go for the easy read or the sensory spectacle rather than the drier, deeper stuff, (quite concerning, considering the ramifications) especially if there’s nobody telling you to write an essay on a certain issue or to come up with a solution to a particular global (or local), problem.

    In this way, ‘tailoring’ of information can probably go to far and we need to get back to a more healthy and balanced, system. We could almost liken the current situation to the rebellous kid who wants to push the boundaries however now, they need to start adhering to the rules again if they’re to grow up into a mature, disciplined, compassionate and caring adult. I haven’t read a meaty article in a good while which is probably due to the above reasons however one remedy may be to subscribe to a reputable newspaper that I can delve into over the kitchen table at least once a week. Moreover, I’ll know it’s curated carefully because I’ll actually be able to hear the rustle of the paper as I turn the pages and ponder whether the writer has a deontological, teleological, confuscionist or feminist ethical perspective.

  14. Facinating TED Talk! Thanks, Kris. I think the ‘filter bubble’ is worrying, but for me it inspires the need to look beyond Google and other search engines to other sources of information. Luckily in Australia we have a thriving media (for the most part) and a range of voices.

  15. I think the important thing is to balance the fear of losing our privacy and the need for information. There is no best possible solution, where everyone is happy. But there will be a need for the enlightened to choose their preferred solution.

  16. Hi I think Rashid has a point about the naivete of social media being all about freedom. You’ve chosen a great topic Kris. While I could almost live with what the Thai government is proposing (on balance), the thought of ‘filter bubbles’ leaves me cold. If I used social media such as Facebook, I would want to disengage from it immediately. While this might be a case of ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ I think the short term giving up of ‘freedom’ is a small price to pay for the insidious loss of real freedom over time. IMc

  17. I understand that government is responsible for their national security so that they should have privileged access to the certain data to protect their country from cyber space. However, it does not mean they can exploit private data. What I trying to say is that “Defending data” and “Exploit data” is totally different thing. All the have do to at this stage is disclose the information about their activities as much as possible to public and keep it transparency. At the same time, they should focus on keeping a good balance of “National security” and “Civil liberties”. This is responsibility of government from my perspective.

  18. “Privacy”, is there such thing anymore. I think anything posted anywhere is being monitored, but by whom is still the question. Thai government probably does not have enough resources or intelligence to monitor Line but I can’t be so sure that they will not try to.
    I work in a medical clinic in the U.S. and was told that I cannot delete any of my emails. In case one day someone somewhere need to retrieve it. So nowadays where being paranoid is the norm, we should revise the word privacy.

    • Thanks Puttachat for sharing. I think Thai government might try but with their abilities…
      They are too busy with themselve. This is an important and complicate issue.
      The first thing, they need to do, is organise their proper police communication channel.
      Don’t you think!

  19. In my country,Thailand, so many people can not live without using social media. For that situation people change their life style and business have to change their doing business that should fit for individual customer. For this meaning ‘customer is the king’ may be right.

  20. Every thing has 2 side of a coin. Social media is a very strong force that help people if information is shared correctly. For an example, we shared on Facebook or twitter to avoid any road accidents or natural disasters are.

    Authorities are very concerned with people ‘share’ comments Why?
    1) once any comment posted is un-erasable
    2) a simple comment may turn into an uncontrollable situation

    Today, whatever country we are in, cyberspace is undeniable.

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