As all things done in a hurry, in “emergency”, we look at the immediate result without checking what lies behind. It happened with contracts back in times, which were granted after disasters had already happened and where Italian judiciary (and not only) showed unutterable speculations; it happened with health services when millions of euros were spent to purchase vaccines designed to contrast unlikely pandemics which seemed around the corner (do you remember avian flu?) Now it is time for the terrorist alarm which penetrates in the depths of our soul as a virus: because it makes us feel insecure, not only about ourselves, but also about our children, at any time during the day and wherever we are.
Yet the appeal to give up on part of our privacy to increase safety is double-edged. Are we really willing to give it the coup de grace? We are already constantly tracked: ATM machines, credit cards, health cards, Internet connections which geo-localize and are linked to different social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and satellite navigation system. Our data are cross-referenced between the motor registration office, revenue agency, banks, and post offices. Not to mention all the cameras in the streets, in front of sensitive, institutional targets as well as in front of simple shops, supermarkets and jewellers.
To speak about confidentiality in such a context is an Utopia. To think that we need a further crack down, with sci-fi video-recorders capable of scanning in real time people’s faces, connect them with existing databases, detect even their movements and identify the subject from them, is probably a bit too much. Not only and not especially because of the thing itself, but because once a certain threshold is crossed, everything becomes legitimate in the name of emergency and safety. It takes a second to switch from democracy to a computerized police state.
And considering that it took centuries to the humanity to reach the degree of freedom we enjoy today – which, as we all know, is not even worldwide, absent both where there are regimes and where commands pure profit – a turnabout would mean a change in the DNA of civil coexistence itself.
We should ask other questions instead. Perhaps we should invest more in intelligence agencies, making more systematic what already exists, leaving the parameters of civil coexistence the way they are at present and intensifying only the side of the relationship between the different police forces and ordinary” equipment? Today – fortunately much less than in the past – various bodies of the Italian police have problems talking to each other as they carry out surveys, which becomes further more difficult abroad. This is something we can work on, by providing police with better tools, without reaching the point when one has to ask permission to leave their home or being able to move around only in certain hours. Nor is it right not to have the certainty to remain on our own for some time without necessarily being identified by some drone.
In Minority Report, a movie by Spielberg, in 2054 the city of Washington has eliminated murders since 6 years thanks to a system called Precrime (which later proves to be fallacious and is dismantled). Based on the premonitions of three individuals endowed with amplified extrasensory perception powers of foreknowledge, called PRECOG, the police succeeds in preventing murders before they happen and in stopping those who are “guilty”; this happens with the help of eye scans scattered everywhere around the city, which identify every single human being.
There are only 39 years left till 2054: are we sure this is the direction we want to walk in? Peace is reached with culture, by changing the conditions of life in the countries which have been previously left on their own, with a more fair distribution of food in the world, and without exploiting in an obsessive manner the resources of the others. If we do not change all this, there will be no lens precise enough to photograph the evolution of Man.