It is incredible how some visionaries who lived among us were able to predict things decades in advance — the famed British author George Orwell was one such visionary. In his literary classic “1984” (which was written in 1949, by the way!), he painted the picture of a total surveillance society under “Big Brother” where humans live and function like sheeple and every person’s every action or word would have consequences.
Lo and behold, enter real life in 2019, and we are looking more and more likely to descend into an Orwellian future.
The internet, without doubt the greatest human invention of the modern era, changed human life as we knew it. The internet made information mobile, which led to unlimited possibilities. It granted new ideas, sights, sounds, concepts, skills, and opportunities to everyone across the planet, and accumulated significant amounts of human identification and behavioural data in the process.
As we all know, the giant tech corporations of the world are now in possession of millions of gigabytes of such data, acquired through social media platforms, mobile applications, search trends, etc. Online privacy is now a privilege rather than a right, and one would need to practically refrain from using any social media tools in order to keep personal information outside the grasp of the Googles and Facebooks. This can be a huge dilemma because these social platforms also provide incredible business (marketing and advertising) tools for the modern day entrepreneur.
In China, a country notorious for its state surveillance and internet censorship, many AI-based approaches are already being adopted to further monitor its citizens. Starting in 2019, it is now mandatory in most big cities’ airports to go through facial recognition scanning in order to board planes (even for foreigners!). As well, steps are now being taken to match facial recognition data with citizens’ behavioural data — things like credit scores and law infringements, etc. In fact, China has already started to implement a “social credit score” system in place where every citizen will be assigned a score based on past personal history. This is so 1984-esque that it is almost as if they took the idea straight from Orwell’s book. Imagine if you drunkenly vandalized a property in your past and as a result will never be able to qualify for various future opportunities due to this one mistake!
In terms of financials and asset protection, the loss of privacy has also been hitting hard in recent years, even on the HNIs (high net worth individuals) who have traditionally had good ways to circumvent regulatory obstacles.
In this past decade alone, we have seen the establishment of the Common Reporting Standard by the OECD countries, as well as the notorious FATCA agreement that came into effect under the Obama administration. Then, with the leak of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, significant more and more global scrutiny has been placed on offshore entities and asset protection — tools frequently used by wealthy businessmen and politicians.
Most recently, new Economic Substance Requirements for popular offshore tax havens (Jersey, Isle of Man, BVI, Cayman Islands, etc.) came into play at the beginning of 2019. Again, this is a result of the OECD countries putting significant pressure on offshore jurisdictions regarding their lenient tax policies. With so many of the Western World’s governments knee-deep in debt, it is unsurprising that they are trying to extract as many tax dollars as possible, from whatever means possible.
But of course, the wealthy are resourceful and will always have a Plan B in place. With bitcoin now being an universally socially accepted form of censorship-resistant digital asset, or “digital gold”, it is extremely likely that more and more HNIs will increase their exposure to bitcoin. Opportunities are born in crisis, and the squeeze for sovereign financial control is presenting a significant opportunity for bitcoin adoption and ownership.
As we rapidly descend into a world with no privacy with regards to personal and financial data, the demand for cyber security and decentralized cryptographic solutions will increase. Poised as the censorship-resistant potential global monetary system and the only “crypto” to currently possess such characteristics, bitcoin will certainly see bullish momentum in the upcoming years — there is no doubt in my mind.
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