KYC rules have been around for a while. You probably
feel that you have more or less always known them, if you are under 40 years old.
But KYC is pretty much a product of the 21st century. And a few
recent decades of the internet have turned it into a FAT set of data.
Names, birthdays, addresses, social security
numbers, etc.…. the amount of data collected on an increasingly large
population is staggering.
The fact that some companies have specialized in
this field has created champions, corporations that collect highly personal
data of millions of individuals.
I am pretty sure that a lot of processes could
be conducted without KYC, as I personally fail to believe that AML/KYC laws do
any good at all and that the rhetoric of it being useful to fight against terrorism
is nothing more than a lie.
But this data is of great interest to thieves and
having it all handled and protected by centralized companies is a recipe for
disaster when they are breached, and they all end up being breached….
I was writing last week about what countries seem
to have in store for us in the future in terms of cyber warfare.
I am always surprised when I read the paper at
the very large number of conflict zones in the world. I remember a few years
ago going to the DMZ while travelling in South Korea. The DMZ stands for
demilitarized zone and as you can guess from its name….
No, it actually is a very heavily militarized
zone, one of the most crowded militarized zones in the world, separating North
Korea from South Korea since the 1950s’. Visiting it brings back memories of
the cold war and the “it’s the good guys versus the bad guys” type of
explanations on what the world is about. I was amazed when going there that the
two neighboring Koreas were under a cease-fire for the past 60 plus years. Can
you imagine your country not putting an end to a war by signing a peace treaty,
but only signing a cease fire, the type of agreement that generally do not
last, only to see it persist for decades?
Anyways, I recently learned about another zone
that seems to have known rocky times in the twentieth century: Jammu &
Jammu & Kashmir has the great privilege of
being a topic of dispute between India, Pakistan and China. That’s right, 3 countries
that have the nuclear bomb. What could go wrong?
Well it happens that recently, the Indian government
revoked Jammu & Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy and decided to cut their
internet. That digital black-out imposed on the Jammu & Kashmir region is apparently
supposed to help India control the local population in the region. Apparently shutting
down the internet is somewhat of an Indian habit since according to this
Forbes article, India holds the sad record of the country that shuts down
the internet the most in the world, and it’s not even close. You probably will realize
that number two on that list is none other than their rival neighbor Pakistan.
Inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir have had
their internet cut since December 18, that’s hundreds of days without the
internet or very limited access to it. Can you imagine how much of a toll that
must take on people, communications, businesses, the health system, education.
What happens when tomorrow you and your community are deemed to be opponents for whatever reasons a local government has come up with: race, religion, cultural specificities.
This is the type of action that will become more common as governments will decide to inflict pain on a specific population. You might be the good guys today, but that can change in a hurry. Be aware of it and maybe just keep in mind that you should probably have some kind of plan in place for when you lose access to your internet for a few days. It’s just like having a few candles in your kitchen cupboard for when the lights go off. Better be prepared.
Moments when you step back from your daily
lives to take a hard look at what the world really looks like are rare, I
assume. At least that was the case for me until I somehow committed to fighting
back a lot more.
I would like to take a look today, for a
second, at where we are headed.
The goal is not to guess the future, but to
look at some events taking place in the present and what they tell us about
what might be shaping up for us moving forward, as they are indicative of
underlying trends we rarely discuss.
I’ll make a lot of assumptions in this post, on
what you might or might not know. These assumptions are made to mimic my own
knowledge, or lack of, on the topic at hand.
You’ve probably heard of the Great Firewall of China, the censorship mechanism designed
by the People’s Republic of China to control access its 800 million internet
users have to the internet. If you’ve clicked on the above link and were able
to read the page from Wikipedia, it means that either you do not live in China
or that you have a VPN set up and working. Because that is what the Great
Firewall of China (GFC) does, it blocks access people have to content and
services that are not deemed suitable, by the government, for people living
within the frontiers of their country. A standard internet user in China does
not have access to sites such as: Google, Facebook, YouTube, the New York Times
or Wikipedia for example. In order to do so, China relies on its technology and
communications’ companies to enforce the policy it has defined centrally. The
GFC enables China to control what its citizens have access to and limit access
to foreign content and opinions that might be harmful to their state.
You might also know that other countries will try to limit outside influence by favoring local companies, services and news agencies, creating strong regional entities in the process:
I believe we live with these facts knowingly
and that they do not bother us much, if at all. I actually would hate to see
the whole surface of the earth covered in blue and would rather see more
diversity rather than less, but that’s another story.
Depending on where we live in the world, we are
all under some form of control. The level of that control will vary from
country to country.
However, what we don’t necessarily watch is how
much countries are strengthening their grip on the internet and getting ready
to confiscate it from us, the people, at their will.
Gone are the days of the cold war, with its
latent equilibrium between two forces, two blocs. Today’s inter connections are
far more complex, multi-polar. You can spy on your enemies and allies alike. The exercise has become so trivial that
no one seems to care anymore.
Various countries are contemplating developing
nuclear weapons, increasing the risk of seeing old equilibriums be challenged.
Look at what North Korea, Iran or Turkey are doing. And that might just be the tip of
the iceberg for us common folk.
What various countries around the globe are
doing is actively prepare for all the possibilities of cyber warfare and they
are equipping themselves with information gathering tools, monitoring tools and
offensive cyber weapons. I believe their scenarios are both for intervening
outside of their own borders as well as inside their frontiers, against their
own people. I will go into some more details about each over the next few weeks
to try and extract a few lessons from what we seem to be witnessing.