Australian telco shutdown of ATM and electronic commerce – If the elites have their way, you better get used to it.
When Australia got a nationwide shutdown of many ATM and electronic funds transfer facilities on 11 July, it got a taste of what the future might bring in certain circumstances. This time it was electronic bank and banking services in department stores, service stations, even Australia Post. For citizens of every kind, workers, businesses, even passers-by: if they wanted money to buy something, pay a bill, use a bank or an ATM, they found they couldn’t unless they had cash – and only if the person they were dealing with could take cash. Otherwise they couldn’t do what they had wanted to do. Even if it was important or vital to do that, it wasn’t done because it couldn’t be done.
Think about that. For that hour or two, those people were cut off from daily life. Their day came to a halt. Imagine, for a moment or two, what it would be like if that cutting off was permanent!
Yes, it’s another indication or warning of how dependent we are on electronics and computers in our lives, but we have had those warnings and setbacks before. What makes this one (and every succeeding one) important is the signal it sends about our vulnerability to decisions of bad actors and what is at stake for us in an ever-expanding number of fields.
What we do know is that at least some of the “usual suspects” amongst nations with which we do not actually have friendly relations (or no official relations at all) might have the power to dramatically take down all our electronic systems, but we tend to skim over this threat as being unlikely. Firstly Australia has always had strong and powerful world powers as allies, nations which have always been first rank nations with resources to counter such attacks. We also have become used to dealing with world powers which are rational actors and thus the danger of mutual harm (the old MAD safety valve) has acted as a solid buffer/bulwark against such drastic, warlike actions. While certain nations are hardly in that unreasoning category, none as yet have been seen to being close to being so irrational as to risk such action which would cause the most severe responses by the most powerful nations in the world.
Significance relative to the powerful in society
What were the particular signals from this occurrence? In the case of the usual breakdowns/accidents and faults, or rare failures due to natural disasters (actions by other countries are nearly inconceivable), we know there is a communal response and the government is also backing us.
The reason why this shutdown of electronic facilities is convenient in its timing is that it is a very good insight into the possible future for some of us. While it is too complex an issue to be dealt with in its entirety in a short article, this virtual introduction to what looks to be coming to Australia has just had a brilliantly descriptive example put up for all to see.
In the western world what is happening to more and more people, to ordinary citizens whose only “fault” was writing or saying things that angered the elites, is the threat and risk of actually being cut off from the society in which we live (and vote) just because we have upset that ruling elite.
In 2013 when the Obama administration was ramping up its attempt to impose societal non-person status on citizens in his Operation Choke Point plan (in brief, cutting companies off from the financial system when the Obama administration didn’t like them, such as payday lenders, gun companies and so on) social media giants and the Astroturf* boycott movement also was well under way trying to commercially cripple political opponents.
(* “Astroturf” is the term given to organised groups of activists falsely claiming to be “customers” of businesses in an effort to persuade that business that its real customers have an objection to an advertising or sales policy. This is in an effort to achieve a political outcome by damaging the commercial or political status of their target).
Soros-aligned Media Matters for America is a far left, anti-Fox group dedicated to fostering the left cause and, in practice, aiming to shut down all opposing voices and their narratives. While supposedly meaning to act through legal means, the boycotts, led by bots and willing astroturf helpers, have waged a decades-long war against Fox and its advertisers, none of which have seemed to work against Fox News Channel (FNC) through that means alone. The recent ones, against Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have caused a FNC “back them to the hilt no matter what” response and FNC dominates cable news ratings as usual and is still the main focus of leftist loathing.
Escalation into social media.
Relatively recently (ramped up significantly since 8 November, 2016) the social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter have joined in this boycott movement, by choosing demonetising of those groups which arouse the wrath of the online critics. Some of the examples were arguably targeted at the extreme end of rightist commentary, none of such commentary falling foul of the 1st Amendment rights of Americans.
Suddenly, they acted in an obviously coordinated way and the way out web site InfoWars was suddenly deleted from all social media platforms, virtually at the same time. However, it was only a ground-breaker for the carnage, banning, de-platforming to come. Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online summed it up well.
“So we’re now trusting the capitalist class, massive, unaccountable corporations, to decide on our behalf what we may listen to and talk about? This is the take-home message, the terrible take-home message, of the expulsion of Alex Jones’ Infowars network from Apple, Facebook and Spotify and of the wild whoops of delight that this summary banning generated among so-called liberals: that people are now okay with allowing global capitalism to govern the public sphere and to decree what is sayable and what is unsayable”.
This is only the start. As the growth of social media made the usual gatekeepers of public discourse virtually powerless, so rose the increasingly serious attempts by the elites and the left generally to stifle the new freedom of the citizen. The ramifications are huge for the freedom of the individual and it will be a recurring series here.