If the President Obama’s plans for the Internet are implemented by the federal government, Internet anonymity may soon be a thing of the past. The whole project has been given the typically massaged moniker of “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” (NSTIC). The development of the strategy is not a sudden, recent development. (In fact, a June 2010 draft of the proposed strategy is available here from the Department of Homeland Security.) But comments last week by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke appear to indicate that the administration may be preparing to implement NSTIC.
Telecommunications and Internet companies are increasingly finding themselves in uncomfortable positions, caught between privacy laws that protect their consumers and law enforcement efforts that necessitate privacy invasion. As Internet and telecommunications services grow in popularity, law enforcement agencies have utilized them as a means to find information about individuals that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.
Big Brother may potentially be armed with yet another tool against the American populace, according to the New York Times: computers that can see and report on the behaviors of individuals. The computers may be used in prisons to analyze inmates' behavior and can alert corrections officers to potential incidents based on what the computer observes.
The United Nations and some of its most oppressive member states are clamoring for global regulation of the Internet, including possible censorship. Toward that end, the UN is working to set up an “intergovernmental task force” to figure out how to better control the web at the international level and how to “harmonize” policing of Internet content.