Recorded phone calls fuel autocratic states’ totalitarian streaks

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While digital technologies have helped governments all over the world interact with their constituents, assess popular sentiment, estimate future political costs, and implement government programmes, they have also aided authoritarian and non-liberal regimes in gaining power. It bestowed upon me an unrivalled ability to live.

While surveillance, propaganda, and disinformation have always been part of a dictator’s armoury, technology advances have made coercion and control considerably more ubiquitous, effective, and subtle. 

Online harassment, misinformation, internet shutdowns, hacks, and targeted monitoring utilising social media, artificial intelligence (AI), and face recognition software are all examples of digital authoritarianism.

Nonetheless, technology does not imply a reduced threat. Governments with limited political, technological, and economic resources may nonetheless erode democracy and human rights. 

Authoritarian governments have been able to not just monitor known dissidents, but also keep the whole collection of digital data connected with everyone within its borders, thanks to falling digital storage costs. These massive databases of recorded phone calls data has effectively constructed a s

urveillance time machine, allowing state security agencies to listen in on people months and years before they were identified as surveillance targets.

The development of new technologies for information gathering, communication, and surveillance has coincided with the deterioration of global democracy over the past 15 years. This complex interaction is worth researching. Absolute leaders and administrators have thought about how to use technology to their advantage. They feel that the government’s ability to deploy such technology and make weapons against its own people is crucial to its survival. Dictatorship has undergone a change: it has gone digital. 

Digital authoritarianism, currently defined as “the use of digital information technology by authoritarian regimes to spy software for cell phone, suppress, and influence domestic and international people,” is quickly becoming a new global disruptor in the language of foreign affairs practitioners and scholars. China, without a doubt, has perfected the art of digital despotism. Beijing has been investing in a vast technical infrastructure to control the Chinese people in all parts of their life for years.

The capacity to record everything will tip the scales in favour of authoritarian governments by setting the groundwork for a slew of new ways to combat dissent. When all of a country’s phone calls can be recorded and fed into voice recognition software that can extract key phrases, and when video footage from public spaces can be correlated in real time with the conversations, text messages, and social media traffic associated with the people occupying those spaces, a regime’s arsenal of responses will grow. 

Other than his own privacy, a citizen has the right to defend his family, education, marriage, maternity, childbirth, and upbringing. Phone tapping can only be done with the approval of the appropriate department in an approved way. It is, however, illegal if it is done in an unauthorised manner, and the person responsible for the breach of privacy will face legal action.

Recently, in a bombshell revelations made by the media organisations, an Israeli corporation has sold a spyware to the autocratic governments around the world to spy on social media of hunderds of politicians, human rights activists, journalists, and lawyers with phone spyware and leak recorded phone calls.

The reports suggested that around 50,000 cell phones of number of people had been targeted with the spyware by the company’s clients or governments. The spyware infects cell phones, allowing operators to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones and cameras.

The investigation identified more than 1,000 persons from more than 50 nations whose names were on the list. Politicians and leaders of state, corporate executives, activists, and members of the Arab royal family are among them. A total of 180 journalists were also discovered on the list.

Interference in telephone communications by the government, including interference in the company’s telephone communications, was prohibited. Only by summoning can you acquire records of calls made and received (which are stored for billing purposes). Only a legitimate court order, specifically with regard to one of the parties, can be used to hear negotiations. Only a court order can provide the authorities access to a company’s premises or documents. As a result, privacy was protected until the government demonstrated a compelling interest.

We now anticipate privacy. We acknowledge our business, our communication, and our phone conversations, and we recognize the rights of public-owned airwaves and public-owned infrastructure as a basic component of this transaction. Don’t let recorded phone calls get into the hands of states with totalitarian streaks.

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Daniel Salvatore

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