Digital networks like the internet have extended State and Corporate control to unprecedented levels

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The development of the internet as a digital network represents the most significant technological phenomenon in society today. The internet has become a revolutionary tool in multiple facets of social, political and economic life transforming our engagement with every aspect of the social world signified by the increasing human desire to be in control. Indeed the issue of controlling this dynamic and ever-changing platform has come to forefront in examining its use.

The internet despite its marketization in capitalism represents a source of freedom for both individual life and organisational networks. In essence this digital network represents a double-edged sword with no defined role within society and capable of acting in a number of ways. Therefore academic scholars must recognise although corporations and State governments have maintained a monopoly of power over this domain individuals have also become empowered in exploiting the internet for their own interests.

As a result this essay will argue although we live in a total surveillance society where our personal lives and civil rights are compromised; individual freedom along with expression through the internet are at an all-time high and we equally capable of monitoring powerful organisations. To sum up the internet is a post-modern tool providing meaning and identity to individual lives beyond organisational control and should be embraced as a force of social and political change in society today.

The issue of state control and technological advancements represents an important link exploring the role and power of the internet as a democratic tool. Certainly state surveillance over individual life has evolved into a complex issue struggling between maintaining public safety against national threats and the invasion of our personal lives to do so (Yar, 2013). For example the creation of CCTV circulation across England has led to a society for some scholars where no privacy exists and the state has essentially started to dictate our behaviour through mass surveillance (Nuth, 2008).

From this view its apparent state control over the internet has expanded through new technology evading our personal social surroundings. This clearly showcases state control has reached unseen levels in society today whereby the concept of individual freedom no longer exists. Such an argument is further reinforced by the GPS coordinates tracking system able to provide accurate estimates of a person’s location either through cars or mobile phone devices (Nuth, 2008).

Although such surveillance is thought of as a national security measure against terrorists attacks it also holds the ability to be abused by authoritarian regimes attempting to monopolise or censor public opinion. This is clearly evident in Turkey where social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and You tube are constantly monitored or shut down to uphold the conservative beliefs held by the current regime whilst oppressing freedom of speech (Genc, 2015). Indeed such censorship illustrates another component of state control increased through the internet.

In this sense, the internet has to a degree clearly extended state surveillance over individual life into new spheres of our social personal lives online. Undeniably although the internet is applauded for its accessibility to everyone countries such as Cuba and China have been found to limit access to state regulated institutions only whilst censoring personal home connections to this global network (Boas, 2001). Ultimately this further highlights the monopolised power over the internet in certain parts of the world.

The internet is recognised as a source of social change capable of galvanising public opinion against dictatorships and their stability to rule thus the increasing struggle to monitor our actions over this platform. In spite of all this, the internet has undoubtedly also amplified the power of state policy makers in controlling and tackling crime. CCTV surveillance for instance has been found to have a significant impact in deterring and also solving crime occurring in local communities (Sheldon, 2011).

Additionally these technological methods of surveillance have also improved police engagement with communities in providing solutions and situational trends in relation to crime (Sheldon, 2011). Clearly this implies although our personal civil rights have been invaded by this increasing surveillance, society’s ability to tackle issues of social concern has enhanced beyond traditional measures through digital networks. With this in mind the internet has become a redefined social tool with increasing micro importance to our individual lives beyond the state’s ability to control and regulate our access to it.

Therefore in order to fully grasp the relationship between the internet and society today we must extended our analysis into capitalist corporations and the new forms of social activism developing. The emergence of the internet coupled with the growth of cyber and white collar crime conducted by global corporate entities demonstrates the evolutionary nature of this digital network and its impact on economic criminal forces today. Hazel Croall indeed acknowledged the internet has encouraged the development of criminogenic cultures within corporations already filled with amoral social characters (Croall, 2001).

The internet has extended the ability of corporations to be complicit in mass criminal behaviour of circulating our personal information in search of marketing profits (Yar, 2013). Corporations have been found increasingly liable of selling private personal information to third party companies for advertising purposes (Croall, 2001). Such activities illustrate the internet has undoubtedly strengthened the ability of corporations to control and circulate personal data online without consent.

In fact this can be seen through the cookies online system recording user activity without consent in order to accumulate commercial information (Yar, 2013). This increasing invasiveness into our personal lives highlights the internet has empowered global corporations to monitor along with guide our experience on this digital network. In such context its clear corporate organisations have been granted unprecedented access to our personal lives and the ability to manipulate our personal information in any number of ways.

This manipulation is reflected through the lenses of the Google Gmail system storing and scanning all personal emails for specific words whilst disregarding our civil rights to privacy (Yar, 2013). Moreover the internet has facilitated the emergence of international trans-border corporations past national control with new forms of criminality materialising beyond legal and criminological perspectives (Minkes, 2008). Crimes such as money laundering and credit card fraud are now approached through a global crime scene view to engage with the enormous playing field of digital networks (Croall, 2001).

For Fitzgerald and Leopold the construction of fibre optic service cables reflects the future of society whereby companies such as Virgin Media will promise faster and more efficient connections in returning for transmitting more data about us through this new system (Russell, 1998). Therefore the internet in multiple ways has become a global tool through criminal and profiting making ventures at the expense of individual privacy over controlling our personal information.

For these reasons the internet has now become a battle ground with individual social activists fighting against the expansive corporate control over this digital network that is emerging. The internet in post-modern society signifies a neutral source embodying the struggle between corporate giants and individual forces for social good. This digital network has in effect created a competition among different groups in exploiting emerging technological advancements for their own benefits.

For example new ICTS in this field have unwrapped new pitfalls for both cyber criminals and law enforcers in attempting to upend online illegal activities (Nuth, 2008). The communicating system lines provided by this network have certainly heightened the ability of criminals to co-ordinate their activities in conducting online fraud and also maintaining greater control over access to our personal information (Russell, 1998). This undeniably showcases the internet as providing unparalleled criminal opportunities to control and observe our personal lives to unseen levels at any time in history.

Furthermore corporate organisations have also increasingly become victims of online hacking highlighting the empowering ability of the internet over anyone. In fact Adidas and Manchester United were a part of the 50 company domain names famously hijacked and changed through hacking in April 2000 (Burden Kit, 2003). Such actions inevitable led to a massive loss of revenue and demonstrate the internet to be far from a corporate tool but one which can also be equally used against them. Perhaps the case of former CIA operative Edward Snowden marked the turning point in our engagement with issue of surveillance through digital networks.

Snowden’s exposure of the American government’s monitoring of personal phone calls and emails was supported by the general public as an act of social service despite the national security risks it carried (Ewen MacAskill, 2014). This undoubtedly signifies not only is the internet an important tool of freedom but it can also aid society in regaining personal control over civil rights and ending mass surveillance. Despite the criminal spheres present within this digital network, the internet has become reconstituted as a platform for pursuing social justice against both corporations and state governments.

The work of social activist groups such as Anonymous in exposing Canadian intelligence spies or members of the KKK in the US clearly illustrates the internet has moved into a new age beyond issues to do with control and surveillance as observed at the turn of the century (Wahlen, 2015) (Woolf, 2015). Through undertaking such approaches its clear we must evolve our engagement with this evolutionary platform towards more recent developments in favour of social justice against capitalist or ideologically driven motives.

The internet today represents a snapshot of the future of society and our way of living in this digital age. This digital platform has facilitated the growth of new cultures beyond traditional understandings along with an increased awareness of personal security. Indeed the market for online security software has grown tremendously in recent times becoming a billion dollar industry (Yar, 2013). In correspondence with this trend the EU in 2004 created a high tech crime agency against trans-border digital crimes (Yar, 2013).

In America the Megan’s law database register was released online as a parent’s protection tool regarding the locations of convicted sex offenders (Bryne, 2010). This undoubtedly showcases society at both macro and micro scales through the internet has become increasingly active in tackling social issues we ignored in the past. The emergence of Twitter movements as BlackLivesMatter and Feminist Culture aided by the Freedom of Information Acts highlights the internet today taken on a prominent role in the fight for equality (Sheldon, 2011).

Without a doubt the internet has transformed situational local movements into international news headlines accessible to the whole world. Nevertheless the growth of celebrity culture and society’s increasing obsession with experiencing their personal lives highlights another controlling mechanism produced through digital networks. The News of the World phone Hacking scandal illustrated although the civil rights of the general public are being gradually won back those of the most famous and in the public eye are being increasingly exploited (Davies, 2014).

From this view the internet and its use today must be further examined through the issue of morality and how digital cultures have transformed our world view of an individual’s personal rights. The case of Milly Dowler signifies this devastating shift with journalists hacking into the victim’s voicemail to generate false hope and destroy police investigations (Amelia, 2011). To sum up its clear the internet and desire to be in control of this digital phenomenon is complex issue requiring constant re-engagement both within individual perspectives and corporate or state dimensions.

Despite this at the present moment the internet is a powerful individual tool for expression and personal identity. In conclusion the internet is and will remain to be a complex evolutionary tool igniting debating on how society should use it. Undoubtedly corporate and state institutions have enhanced their control over the public through this digital network into our personal or professional lives. In truth such control has been facilitated by wider structural developments of globalisation and marketization in capitalism leading to criminal subcultures overlooking basic civil rights in search of profits.

Therefore in this sense the internet has increased control and surveillance to unprecedented scopes of human life. In spite of this, however the future of this platform lies its political and social aims in creating change and providing greater security for individuals on a micro scale. To sum up the internet today is much less concerned with issues of control but has become transformed towards engaging with problems at the heart of society in the 21st century as evidenced by the new social media political movements providing meaning for people.

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