Week 19: Massive anti-government protests continue to escalate and turn more violent.
Stores, banks, and properties perceived to be connected with Beijing were vandalized, and a subway station was hit with gas bombs, shutting down service.
Reacting to the anti-mask law, which the city government imposed to help identify protestors, demonstrators continued taking to the streets despite the increased police crackdown.
In response, a group of leading Hong Kong lawyers, human rights advocates, and journalists issued statements strongly condemning excessive police retaliatory tactics seen in multiple videos of injured demonstrators.
“Bones ground Powder”
With tensions between protesters and government police intensifying, last Sunday, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in a foreign ministry statement, said, “Anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder.”
An Apple a Day Keeps Freedom Away
Helping to further flex its anti-protest measures, the Chinese state newspaper, China Daily, harshly criticized Apple for allowing an app to be downloaded from its digital store, claiming it was “toxic software” because it “allows the rioters in Hong Kong to go on violent acts.”
They condemned the app, HKmaps, because it shared information about the location of the Hong Kong police force, which authorities claimed protesters were using so they could attack the police.
The app’s creators stated there was no evidence that HKmap targets violence against police or threatens public safety in any way. They cited similar apps available in Apple’s online store, such as WAZE, downloaded by motorists to avoid traffic jams, cameras, and speed traps.
Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, had the app removed after receiving “credible information” from Hong Kong authorities “that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”
Also bowing to pressure, last week Google removed a game from its site that allows players to role-play as a “Hong Kong protester.”
Google then issued a statement that the game, “The Revolution of Our Times,” violated rules to “sensitive events.”
But social media was immediately flooded with angry comments about how Apple and Google were more concerned with making profits in the lucrative Chinese market than supporting freedom and democracy.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Apple then. Apple Now.
What a difference a few decades make.
Once upon a time, in the early days of the Digital Age, Apple shined as a powerful platform for freedom.
Back in the 1984, when the Apple personal computer was first being mass produced, it ran a Super Bowl ad the public loved, went on to win major awards, and catapulted the Apple brand into the minds of millions.
The commercial, called “1984,” referred not just to the actual year of its broadcast, but to the famous dystopian novel, “1984” by George Orwell, which warned of totalitarian government control of society.
Orwell painted a future of “Thought Police” persecuting individuality, creativity, and independent thinking. A society where people would conform and bow down to the demands of a mind-oppressing government.
Doublethink, thought crime, Newspeak, secret surveillance, and official deception were some of the ways Big Brother controlled the masses and squelched rebellion.
In the Super Bowl Apple commercial, a woman track athlete, wearing a tank top with the Apple logo and holding a sledgehammer as she’s running, is being chased by members of the Thought Police.
She races in a large auditorium filled with a brain-dead audience obediently and emotionlessly staring at Big Brother on the screen.
With the Thought Police close behind, she whirls around, hurling the sledgehammer into the screen, destroying it… and the image of the authoritarian figure.
A voiceover is heard saying, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.”
Apple’s message, as was that of the new digital world, was that the Internet was a beacon for freedom and was an antidote to government-controlled conformity and big business monopoly.
Thirty-five years later, in 2019, Apple cowardly is obeying Big Brother.
From China to America, across the globe, in countries large and small, freedom of the Internet is ancient history.
It is one of our Top 10 Trends for 2019: Censorship 2.0
And Big Brother’s in control.
He knows every step, every face, every word… and soon every thought of everybody.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Big Brother’s gone global.
He’s at home in the U.S.
Last year, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found aspects of the FBI’s warrantless internet-surveillance program to be illegal.
Only now has this ruling been publicized after the government lost an appeal of the judgement before another secret court.
This is one of the few court rulings that have gone against U.S. spying programs since they were significantly expanded after the attacks of 9/11.
The case centered on the FBI improperly prying into the lives of Americans through a National Security Agency (NSA) database that the court said violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The court identified tens of thousands of improper searches conducted by the FBI between 2017 and 2018.
The vast majority of courts have confirmed the right of the federal government to spy on non-U.S. citizens who are in contact with Americans in the U.S., even though these searches end up collecting private data on the Americans being contacted.
Further solidifying our “Censorship 2.0” trend, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, warrantless searches of Americans’ phone calls, texts, and emails more than doubled in 2018 compared to 2015.
Big Brother’s reach will continue to spread as new technologies provide deeper access into every aspect of our lives.