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The End Times Bible Prophecy Newsletter, Issue #063
August 15, 2019
"For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus." Revelation 19:10 (NLT)
Silicon Valley Censorship and the Coming Global Police State
If you love freedom and liberty, recent actions from high tech companies should have you worried. In pursuit of profit, the mega companies of Silicon Valley have created products that invade user privacy. And they easily cave to the demands of totalitarian governments.
For example, Amazon's Alexa devices are a huge convenience for many people. But most users don't realize Alexa devices do more than listen. They record. Once you talk to an Alexa device, it records your voice and stores the audio file on a remote server. Amazon uses this information to improve its recommendations. They want to sell you more stuff. But in the process, Alexa devices record and store everything you say. Are you okay with others listening to your conversations? If not, then don't bring an Alexa device into your home.
Unfortunately, Silicon Valley's questionable actions aren't reserved for product development. They've also become arbiters of free speech. In June, YouTube said it will ban videos that promote or glorify "racism and discrimination." This includes banning videos most people would find despicable, such as those denying the Holocaust or the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. But it also includes a number of videos people don't find objectionable. So where do you draw the line? Who determines what's "racism and discrimination" versus what's normal political speech? Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have taken similar actions to purge "hate speech." But in an age where social media dominates public discourse, access to these platforms is vital to get a message out. What if these platforms flag their political opponents as sources of "hate speech"? What will that do to freedom and liberty? Unfortunately, we don't have to guess. All we have to do is look at the actions some of these companies have already taken.
A Threat to Liberty
Personal bans and privacy violations are bad enough, but the most frightening actions these companies take is their willingness to appease authoritarian governments. For instance, in an attempt to gain access to a billion new users, Google worked on a censored, government-approved version of its search engine for China. The Chinese government regulates the Internet with a heavy hand. They routinely block websites linked to human rights, democracy, and religion. Google generated outrage last year when news leaked of its plans to launch a censored search engine codenamed Dragonfly. After intense criticism, they abandoned the project. But speculation continues as to whether or not Google plans to revive the project.
Sadly, Google isn't the only company willing to cave to China. In June, Twitter suspended a large number of Chinese-language user accounts. Some of those accounts belonged to critics of China's government. Just days before the anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, critics claim it's more than a mere coincidence. Twitter acknowledged the suspensions, stating they were in response to terms of service violations. However, it also acknowledged some of the suspended accounts involved "commentary about China." Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized the move, saying "Twitter has become a Chinese government censor."
Tech company eagerness to please oppressive governments extends to streaming services as well. In December, Netflix removed an episode of the comedy show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from its service in Saudi Arabia after a government complaint. The episode criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. An official statement from Netflix said, "We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and removed this episode only in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request - and to comply with local law." Needless to say, human rights groups disagree with the Netflix position that it "supports artistic freedom worldwide." It's clear they only support such freedom when it doesn't interfere with their profits.
As technology advances, these platforms will become more and more important. As a political commentator, try getting your message out to a large audience without using Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, or Netflix. It's nearly impossible for someone who doesn't already have a large following. In the future, it will be even more difficult, if not impossible.
Where We're Headed
We're living in a world where the largest tech firms have more power than any companies have ever had before. Since the police power of government rules over the high tech companies, it means we're heading into an era where governments will be more powerful than they've ever been. Think about the information at their fingertips. If you're on Facebook and you use a smart phone, then companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook probably know more about you than some of your closest friends. They know who you associate with, what you search for on the Internet, what products you buy, what interests you have, what bank you use, who you talk to the most, when you're awake, where you've been, and where you are at any given moment. With facial recognition technology, they can pick your face out of a sea of millions in less than a second. Connect facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence with a growing network of public and private cameras, and they aren't far from being able to record everything you do at all times.
Think I'm exaggerating? Just consider the impact of one popular product - doorbell cameras. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics, more than 3.4 million doorbell recording devices were sold in 2018. Some police departments are offering discounts on doorbell cameras. The reason? They want to access the footage. A NextMarket Insights report stated, "smart security devices" will be in use in more than 22 million U.S. homes by 2020. No doubt this will help solve a number of crimes and deter home invasions. But it has an unintended impact as well. As more people install doorbell cameras, more and more of daily life will be recorded. Doorbell cameras don't simply record your front porch. Depending on the angle, they can surveil an entire neighborhood. Now, imagine every house in the neighborhood has one. There won't be a single event that won't be recorded.
Add doorbell cameras to all the smart devices people are putting inside their homes (including their bedrooms), and we're quickly getting to the point where your every movement and communication is tracked and documented. A few giant corporations hold all that data - data about your life. What are they doing to protect it? Are they selling it to other companies? Are they sharing it with governments? Their cozy relationships with China, Saudi Arabia, and other human rights violators shouldn't give you any comfort.
What the Bible Says
The Bible says a time is coming when a global dictator will rule the world (Revelation 13:7). He will succeed in everything he does (Daniel 8:24). His power will be so great no one will be able to oppose him (Revelation 13:4). His control over the earth will be so complete, he'll regulate the purchase and sale of everything (Revelation 13:17). How is this possible? For most of human history, it wasn't. As this is written, it probably still isn't possible. But as technology continues to advance, it will. A global dictator could only hold such absolute power with the aid of advanced technologies. And as the world's greatest tech companies have so aptly demonstrated, they're more than happy to work with oppressive governments.
Absent public outrage, they'll willingly cave to the demands of despots. As they develop even more powerful technologies, their work will set the stage for a global police state. It's one more sign of the times in which we live. It's time to look up. Jesus is coming!
What do you think? When it comes to preserving individual freedom and liberty, are companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix a help or a hindrance? Tell us what you think here.
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