Politics & Technology - 2016/11/21
It seems that in politics technology tends to be pushed out of the picture, despite it becoming (or even having become) one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to create a more efficient and more connected political system. It is thought that limiting technology to PR will do, but that isn't enough, technology has the potential to change the way our politics works at a much more visible and down-to-earth level.

It is true that political parties already use technology in their campaigning in order to calculate what neighborhoods they should concentrate their campaigning in and what demographics should be given more attention. However, this is purely technology for marketing and PR (PR when they post things on Twitter or Facebook to gain support among younger voters). However, technology has the ability to do much more than just that.

First, I would like to state that I am not advocating for voting to be done online, in fact I believe that it is a horrible idea and I respect the fact that countries such as Spain have kept counting votes manually rather than by machines that have been proven to be unreliable (if you're not convinced by my source just look it up, there are tons of cases). In my opinion as a software developer and someone who has a decent knowledge of computers and their security, making any part of the voting process electronic is a problem, and these instances should be put to a minimal (yeah, no texting the results to Washington DC either).

To begin with, the importance of Free Software (especially among the left-wing) should be made very clear. Free Software, along with privacy, must be at the foundation of any left-leaning social movement in order to maintain a strong movement that is difficult to take down. Imagine if a movement used the same kind of anonymization technologies as a hacktivist. This would allow the movement to essentially become faceless, without a known leader that can be taken down to stop the movement, and all other members that wished to remain anonymous could do so in order to protect their jobs, family, and friends from any repercussions that their involvement may have. To do all these things political movements need to start moving with more precision and technological awareness. Good tools for such a movement would be GnuPG to encrypt any messages, BitMessage for anonymous and P2P communications (with the availability of subscriptions and chan(nel)s), and Tor or I2P to make sure the IP address of all participating members is anonymous.

Technology must also be used to bring the people closer to politics. This has been attempted via social media, however that only turns politics into a spectacle rather than something in which you are more involved. People need to begin to see what politics is really about, otherwise they continue to vote blindly without a clue. Therefore this must start by promoting volunteer work among the militants in creating budgets, writing legislation, coordinating compromises (if the political system permits, such as a parliamentary system), and much more. This will educate people as to what politics is and what they are truly voting for.

Another aspect of technology that should be given attention is that of net neutrality. This is actually getting quite a bit of attention, and I am simply putting this here to make sure it continues to have that. Every few years a new piece of legislation comes around trying to remove net neutrality, which would allow ISPs to give priority to companies such as Facebook and YouTube/Google, while other websites (such as my own, or the Tor or I2P networks, other anything else that's not a multi-million dollar company) are purposely given little to no traffic, making almost impossible to stray from the path that your ISP wants you to walk. This is problematic for any movement, especially if said movement is against any current establishment and cannot pay millions to get their site traffic.

These are just a few things that are important in terms of technology and politics, however there are many more, and hopefully these movements begin to notice that this is fundamental to any political movement.