THE millions of people throughout the world who rushed out last June to buy the latest must-have piece of technology from the Apple company got a shock this week when researchers revealed that what they had bought was a permanent surveillance device, capable of tracking and recording their every move.
The Apple iPhone contains a nasty bit of software that does not appear in any brochure and which can’t be switched off by the owner.
This records exactly where the owner goes and this information is then recorded along with the exact time.
The thing, of course, about this unsolicited aspect of the commodity’s use value is that its principal user is the state, and its police forces.
The information recorded on the iPhone is also copied onto any computer to which the phone has been attached.
Any information that is copied can be made available to anyone with access to either the iPhone or the computer and all without the owner’s knowledge.
Apple is not alone in producing this type of commodity with this use value. The most popular smartphones on the market are the so-called Android phones which have virtually the same capability but appear to retain the information for a shorter period of time.
This use of technology to track and monitor the behaviour of individuals is, of course, nothing new, since every advance in technology is seized upon by the capitalist state to enable its maximum use for spying, security or military purposes.
Mobile phones have always had the capability of pinpointing a person’s location, what is new is that whereas in the past this information was held by the mobile phone companies for a legally specified period of time and accessible to the police only by means of a court order, today anyone getting hold of your phone or access to your computer – by hacking it – can get even more accurate information.
Technology has long been used by the capitalist state to police the activities of workers, unions and anyone considered a danger to it.
In 2001 the European Parliament issued a report that stated that every e-mail, telephone call or fax message sent within Europe was routinely intercepted and recorded by the security services.
The recent revelations about the illegal activities of undercover police provocateurs in the environmental movement gave a glimpse of the lengths the state is prepared to go to protect the interests of the capitalist class.
In addition, the police in Britain are now acquiring the use of high-tech, unmanned drones to use for surveillance in urban areas.
This massive increase in surveillance by the capitalist state is cloaked in platitudes about it being solely used for crime prevention – but the fact of life today is that capitalism in its death agony sees every worker fighting for their job, every community fighting against hospital closures and every union fighting against the destruction of the welfare state as engaging in a ‘criminal action’ that must be dealt with in order that the bankers can survive and capitalism be kept going.
The ruling class throughout the world has declared civil war on its own working class and imperialist war on the workers and masses of the ex-colonial countries in its increasingly desperate struggle to survive. Behind all the words about the ‘freedom of the individual’ is the crudest possible suppression of freedom, using both the cruise missile and modern methods of communication.
Technology is being used not to liberate humankind but to subjugate it, control it, and murder it in the name of private profit.
The only answer to this growing state dictatorship over every aspect of life under capitalism is to build the revolutionary party to lead the working class to overthrow capitalism and go forward to socialism.