Apple logoAs it comes to light today that Apple is no longer accepting cash for its iPhone, it would seem that we can’t help ourselves rushing headlong into a cashless society. Our modern day society is always finding some excuse to destroy anonymity – as if it daring to have your own thoughts is something to be feared, in case you make a bad choice. So control seems to be the only option left? How very insecure…

Apple, hackenomics, and the waning anonymity (and obsoletion) of cash

I am fed up with pubescent brands, and for that matter, supposedly democratic governments, dictating to me how to live my life, because some Quango has read a report somewhere about the benefits of data-collection, and now seeks to throw his weight around like a brain-dead, beefed-up bouncer on a power trip.

What is this obsession with people wanting us to part with our privacy before a purchase? Why is it that people get upset when you say, ‘sorry I don’t want to tell you’? I mean, have you ever tried saying ‘no’ then watch the cashier wrestle with the fact they have no idea how to tackle a computer screen that won’t let them proceed – even when paying cash! Why are cashiers these days all being pre-programmed to say ‘do you have a loyalty card? Would you like one?’ I never thought I would ever admit to saying this, but I miss the time a cashier used to say ‘have a nice day’…

Now I remember the days when it used to be said that your hairdresser was your best friend, as they knew so much about you. After all, all information was readily offered and volunteered to the listening ear as you sat in that chair, was never demanded. So what has happened so that the last time I went to get a haircut, the questionnaire they wanted me to fill in before I could pay was nothing short of frightening! What are these marketers thinking? That I am not perfectly capable of knowing when my hair is too long?!!

Trying to get Bupa to part with their cash to cover an injury after a fall – well apparently the symptoms seem like something that happened over once before, so they don’t want to cover it. What people can only have an accident once in their life now?!

The world has gone crazy – it’s like let me track you or die – well, at least go without.

That sounds remarkably like something predicted 2,000 years ago in the bible.

“Anyone not worshiping the Beast would be killed. It forced all people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to have a mark on the right hand or forehead. Without the mark of the name of the Beast or the number of its name, it was impossible to buy or sell anything…” Revelation 13: 15-17

Forget ‘the Omen’ I saw as a kid, it must have been about 20 years ago I first heard people talking about a cashless society, heralding in a time of an Orwellian world of terrifying proportions the like of which has only ever be seen in part. It would start with getting rid of the anonymity of cash and then tracking people, just as Hitler had everyone marked as to identify their ‘profile’ and then stopped certain people going to certain shops, prior to moving them on… and out…

Am then there was the notion that barcodes contain a ‘666’ in them, of which some seemingly do!

Scare mongering, religious zealots trying to interpret an out-of-date book?

Not quite the world depicted in Orwell’s 1984 – In that year the nearest to computer systems knowing who I was when I made my name animate up and down a screen on a BBC model B – I never could have conceived a time then, when a sixth of the world’s population would be connected via the internet! And that’s before we go wireless…

But look at where we are now, in not so many years. Instead of rewarding me for being tracked, which is in essence how a loyalty card works, along came OysterCard that reversed the model and penalised you for not having one. “Smarter, faster, cheaper” they told us, as they hiked up the cash prices and made it as awkward as possible to opt out. I guess the by-line “resistance is futile” wouldn’t not have sounded so appealing to the masses. But London responded passively as always and now seemingly 10M of us are on their systems.

So what, who cares, until the government demands all data is passed over to them, and where police seemingly have open access to all those files.

Oyster data use rises in crime clampdown

Then Barclaycard decides to link itself into that equation and developed the “OnePulse” Card, designed to track every purchase ‘under a tenner’ – basically, things you would not ordinarily use a credit card for.

Barclaycard’s OnePulse Credit Card Offers Oyster Functionality

OnePulse and Oystercard uses the same RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips that can broadcast unique data as far away as 500’ – not the 2” you presume as you ‘touch in, touch out’ with the low-frequency readers installed in the underground turnstiles. There’s a lot I can do from half a kilometre away…

Location, movement and purchase history.

Suddenly the notion of ‘impossible to buy and sell’ without some kind of individual ‘mark’ doesn’t sound so far off does it?

So as if we have not already been bullied and cajoled enough, Apple in their superior god-like authoritative wisdom as a global brand has decided to dictate how we must pay for this year’s ‘must have’ gadget.

No credit card, no iPhone

“People looking to walk into an Apple retailer and buy an iPhone with cash will be out of luck. The company is now accepting only credit or debit card payments for the devices so that it can track who purchases the phone, according to an employee at the Apple Store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

“The new policy is Apple’s attempt to prevent people from purchasing and then unlocking and reselling iPhones, a situation that has been a problem for the company. Apple won’t let anyone without a credit card or debit card in their name purchase iPhones, according to an unidentified Apple Store employee in a phone interview.”

It is as if ‘ultimate power ultimately corrupts’ has gone straight to Steve Jobs head. Is he really not content with iTunes telling me where and how I can play music, he now wants to take on the world’s choice of payment methods in a bid to track who owns one.

Steve, stuff your phone. I’m not playing, or paying for that matter. I think praying would be more appropriate in this situation – that this time you really don’t get your own way.

Seems strangely sinister this should all come to light on Halloween, don’t you think?

With the systems and brands beginning to dictate and challenge against mankind’s right for choice and privacy, time is very much running out in terms of what we can fight to retain in terms of independence before we release that control to become interdependent upon an infrastructure that promises much but delivers little in terms of quality of life.

And at the end of the day, you are only as safe as those with the real control behind the scenes – hoping those in charge really are honourable and beyond reproach. Hello, has anyone ever met an honest politician beyond the talons of corruption?

Maybe when in 1948 Orwell swapped the numbers to create his 1984 he was merely 30 years out when he foresaw the same thing he saw happen in World War 2 happening all over again, but in a more pervasive and global scale. The de-humanisation of mankind begins with removing the freedom to choose. Isn’t that the true nature of evil, reducing man to be a mere product of evolution and bound to his urges like some kind of animal, unable to think and choose for himself, unable make a personal choice to stand and decide for himself to say ‘NO! – enough is enough’?

God help us if Hitler came to power now.

Maybe God already has, but left us with the choice about our future –  and from what I have read, global warming is going to be the least of our concerns. It will seem like an ice age in comparison…