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How abortion in the age of surveillance capitalism turns Internet into a dystopia

Information Security *Cryptocurrencies
The reversal of Roe v. Wade, which launched a furious debate about abortion rights, has a side — and a very itchy side. In June 2022, the Supreme Court struck down federal protections for abortion rights in the United States, turning the decision on the legality of abortion over to the state level, many of whom had long been waiting for it: they had «trigger» laws banning abortion, and state prosecutors were preparing to prosecute for violating or trying to circumvent them.

Not even a week later, news emerged that the blow to women's rights might come from an unexpected (for naive Americans who are not familiar with the «Yarovaya Package» and other niceties of Russian legislation) side, when the willingness to «leak» personal data even without a decision was confirmed by the developers of major applications for women. Thus, suddenly, own gadgets and all the IT infrastructure that surrounds the modern man for his convenience, suddenly showed its downside: the possibility of total control over human life and actions.


A little history: The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to abortion, guaranteed the right to abortion to women nationwide, regardless of individual state laws. This decision was overturned in 2022 when a new set of Supreme Court justices decided, through a different interpretation of the text of the Constitution, that — no, it does not imply a right to abortion, therefore there is no constitutional protection for the right to abortion. In the absence of a federal law regulating abortion in the U.S., the issue was automatically taken up by the individual states. In many of these states, laws prohibiting or radically restricting (even to the point of making it virtually impossible) the right to abortion have either never been repealed, simply have not been in effect since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or special «trigger» laws have been enacted that limit or prohibit abortion automatically with its repeal. The press writes of 13 states where trigger laws were pending this decision, with the prospect of an increase to 25 or more — that's more than half of the U.S. regions.

It is difficult to give an accurate assessment, because it is a complicated legal procedure, where enforcement practices derived from the existing state laws on paper are not always immediately clear. Plus the situation depends on the dynamically changing political situation at the individual state level. In November 2022 there will be elections all over America, including local elections. In some states, the Republicans will win, and abortion will be dramatically restricted, if not abolished. Somewhere, Democrats will win, and the right to abortion will be restored. Nevertheless, de facto, in at least 13 U.S. states, abortion became problematic as early as June, right after Roe was repealed.

Among those banned were early-term abortions, which are now performed medically — that is, without surgery, by taking a pill. The fact is that even the most «humane» anti-abortion laws limit the maximum term of a legal abortion to six weeks (the stricter ones to any term, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, the stricter ones to any case). The problem is that six weeks is the time frame at which most women discover an unplanned pregnancy (this corresponds to a two-week delay in their period, when many women who didn't plan a baby and get tested) — and take the pill to terminate it. Now it's becoming illegal. It would seem that what difference does it make — even if it does, who will know? This is where the political (historical, cultural, ideological, and religious) problem of abortion collides with the realities of modern surveillance capitalism — surveillance capitalism.

Many Russians, especially IT-enthusiasts, Internet enthusiasts and readers of Khabr, know from the sad example of Russia in recent years what a threat the IT-business can pose under an authoritarian political regime. The pioneers of the Internet — both Western and Runet — were often people with values, ideals and beliefs. Unfortunately, the values of the founders cannot be transferred to the logic of the corporations they founded. Corporate logic is the logic of profit maximization, which, by definition, is immoral. Not to be confused with immorality: the common understanding of immorality as a choice in favor of evil is actually called immorality. A-moralism is a choice in which considerations of morality, good and evil, are not factors. The logic of business, by definition, in the exact meaning of the word, is immoral. It is not only the logic of the market, but also the logic of the law — in many countries (including the U.S.) corporations are required to act in the interests of their owners (shareholders) — that is, maximizing return on investment.

And, of course, corporations must follow the laws of the states in which they operate. A simple picture emerges from all this: if the logic of business development begins to contradict the values of its founders, the logic of business, supported by the logic of the market, wins — or business dies. Thus, the logic of the market becomes an ally of the state in subordinating businesses to its interests — whether the founders and employees of a particular corporation like it or not. As a result, Google creates a censored version of search for China, Yandex cleans up search results by court order, Vkontakte surrenders any user data at the request of the authorities, providers block any sites and services that Roskomnadzor points out, and so on.

The fact that all this has happened in Russia, starting with the activity of the notorious Mizulina and Yarovaya, while it has not happened in the United States until now, is explained not by the difference in markets, but by the difference in politics. The U.S. political system is much more liberal than Russia's, which is why the Internet is much freer there. But in Russia, too, the political system in the past was more liberal, and Runet was just an anarchic paradise, a libertarian utopia and a pirate's cove in the best sense of the word — for the time being. What the Russian experience has shown is that as soon as the political winds change, the Internet industry will inevitably set a new course.

Now the political winds have changed in the United States — and the unlearned lessons of the Russian experience are becoming a sad reality of the American Internet. Almost immediately after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the American Internet was shaken by Vice News: «The largest monthly tracker in the App Store has agreed to hand over its users' data to the authorities without a court decision. That is, to „leak“ information incriminating their users at the first request of the police. If the police suspect a person of an illegal abortion — it is enough to request the service to get the data, which can become the basis for a criminal case. Even a delayed period longer than usual could be grounds for a criminal investigation: did an illegal abortion take place?

Suddenly, in 2022, this infographic has become relevant:

The irony is that before the widespread penetration of the Internet in everyday life, such a problem would not even have arisen: having discovered an unwanted pregnancy at such an early stage, a woman would only have to take a pill to terminate it. The services that make our lives more convenient in a warm political climate turn into a tool for entrenching the user when it gets colder. The digital network becomes a digital cage, a digital gulag.

There is more to come. It is not just a matter of one or more services deciding to cooperate with the police. Immediately after the news about the monthly Stardust tracker, news emerged about other trackers that promise to anonymize and protect the data of their users in every way. But don't get too excited about this: as the Russian experience shows, the readiness of the Internet business to resist their involvement in censorship or repression is inversely proportional to the will of the state to use them.

In this case, the possibilities of the police state are not limited to tracking services. If an illegal abortion (or later abortion) is suspected, the police can quite legally, by court order, seize devices or send appropriate requests to payment services, messengers, marketplaces and transportation services — and gain access to correspondence, payment history, online orders (pills) or travel (for surgery in another state). The state's ability to turn the Internet itself against anyone is limited only by the political will to pass the necessary laws.

The state in the age of surveillance capitalism turns the Internet into a dystopia. And the example of abortion itself is only an example. The attitude to the right to abortion itself does not change anything — we can frame any problem, from boundary topics of public morality (drugs, pornography) to political censorship: it is important to see how the modern concept of the Internet, web 2.0, with all its merits, unnoticed by most people, including the founding fathers of the web, has become a giant, which with one flick of the state whip can be turned into a monster. The Internet must change. And the Internet has already begun to change — about the same years as China began to build the „great Chinese firewall“ and Russia began to build the „digital Gulag“, digital technology enthusiasts began to create countermeasures: a decentralized distributed secure Internet, cryptocurrencies, web 3.0.

Now a new generation of services of the future, the platforms that will make up web 3.0, is just emerging. There are several of them: Utopia, Y messenger, Keybase and TOR. The purpose of all these services is the protection and security of users' contacts with each other.

The most versatile system among them is Utopia. Y messenger is a messenger that is designed to be secure, but also as convenient as Telegram or WhatsApp.

Blockchain startup Keybase was creating a cryptographically secure file storage. And in 2020, it was bought by Zoom, and Keybase specialists were engaged in improving the security of the service.

Well, the well-known Tor is just a browser, offering encryption and anonymization of traffic. „Utopia, on the other hand, is a platform for full-fledged interaction between people, including communication and payments. Thus, in Utopia, people can not only communicate, but also cooperate, create different projects, collaborate, and build businesses in as secure and safe a mode as they need.


The motto of the future Web 3.0 juggernaut Utopia is: Anonymity, security and freedom made green. Make the most of the Web 3.0 confidentiality without damaging our planet.

With Utopia, users can exchange instant text and voice messages, transfer files, create group chats, channels and news feeds, as well as organize private discussions. The channel can be geo-tagged with uMaps, making it easier to access Utopia channels and providing an extra layer of security. This allows you to avoid using public mapping services, which are known to collect data to populate Big Data arrays.

uMail is a decentralized alternative to classic email. No servers are involved in the transmission and storage of emails. An uMail account, which can be created in a minute, provides the ability to use an unlimited number of messages and storage space for attached files. The encryption used by the Utopia ecosystem guarantees the security of mail transmission and storage. The uMail account, an integral part of Utopia, cannot be blocked or seized.

All financial tools are available in Utopia's built-in uWallet: send and receive instant payments in Crypton cryptocurrency used in Utopia, mine currency, accept payments on your site, pay Crypto cards without revealing your identity, or bill other Utopia users for your services. Other features include an API and a console client for easy integration.

The Utopia network includes a secure alternative to the traditional Domain Name System (DNS), the Utopia Name System (uNS). It is a decentralized registry of names that cannot be hijacked, frozen or corrupted. Once registered, they are yours forever. Together with packet forwarding, uNS allows you to tunnel any data between users in the ecosystem and store different types of resources, including websites, in the Utopia network.

There are many other awesome features available that you will love, such as encrypted voice calls, tons of stickers and emoticons, multiplayer games, collaboration tools, and organization. It's a full-fledged prototype of Web 3.0. Whether or not Utopia becomes the future of the Internet is up to users.
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