How Digitized is Your Next Country?

W​hen thinking about where your (next) destination might be, consider how digitized the country is, and what direction they are taking it in.

November 21, 2022

B​y: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

digitizedT​here’s a phrase used to tap into who can relate to a limited reference to a given topic: If You Know, You Know. It’s like if you quoted a movie, and only people who shared your love of that movie would recognize the line, and understand the context.

I​f you’ve been following banking, currencies, money, and the trends of building a cashless society, the darting glances across virtual spaces at what is happening carry a lot of meaning without a single word being said.

“​The Big ‘I Told You So'” is coming. It’s the culmination of all the warnings and suspicions long excoriated as mere “conspiracy theory”, finally coming to a head. Those who were watching know this was a long time coming.

T​here’s the Cashless Agenda, the Surveillance State, and, if you wanted to look at de-industrialization and possibly depopulation as other attendees to this consortium of control, it wouldn’t be unreasonable.

F​or now, however, the pandemic era propelled the very worst in central planning initiatives. The digitization of records and identities is starting to show not only the controlling nature of socialized programs, but the dangers of public and private partnerships.

I​t’s an important factor when evaluating destinations as an expat or digital nomad: what sort of tracking can I expect? Am I willing to subject myself to this level of surveillance?

While for now some of these efforts are “voluntary”, or only pertain to citizens, it’s not wrong to believe it might soon become common place for tourists, visitors, and residents.

Korea and China both used digital tracking to help mitigate the spread of the virus. China still is resorting to not only lock-downs but freezing bank accounts. They are exalted for their efforts, too. Plenty of prominent people railed against the rights of private citizens to usher in the mandates and what might be more aptly called “living by permission”.

I​f you think that’s just what Chinese and Koreans do, think again. The state of Massachusetts finds itself in a lawsuit because it secretly installed a COVID-19 tracking software on the phones of Android users who live or work in the state, after they couldn’t get enough people to voluntarily download the software.

T​here’s also many other countries following suit…

Remember Sri Lanka’s riots? There was an overall failure of that government to tend to the economic needs of its people, but one of those needs that precipitated the angst was a new energy policy called a “National Fuel Pass“:

The new pass will guarantee the allocation of fuel quota on weekly basis. A QR code will be given for each National Idenity Card number (NIC) once the vehicle identification number and other details are verified.

People with registered vehicles will get their turns based on the last digit of their registration number. Tourists and foreigners will be given priority to take fuel in Colombo.

T​his sounds a lot like some Jimmy Carter era nonsense of rationing. There’s no “right way” to ration energy, and since this has been tested and failed already, I doubt a QR code will make it any better.

Uganda started a ten-year program back in 2014 to launch a national ID program. In 2024, the new — or should I say enhanced — program will include bio metrics plus individual DNA.

Over 15 million have received this ID, leaving still nearly 4.5 million without. What does that mean for the latter group? They are denied services.

  • Turned away from medical services

  • They cannot open a bank account

  • They cannot buy a mobile SIM card

  • They cannot get a passport

  • They cannot apply for a student loan

India, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia, Germany, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Chile have all introduced digital ID cards that link bio metrics fingerprints and iris scans to a unique identity number.

T​his isn’t something a random state and a few third world countries have done either.

The National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos are trialing bio metrics for concession payments and fan entry.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Falcons and soccer team Atlanta United, plans to trial bio metrics with 50 to 100 season ticket holders in the club-seat section.

Why would such identity measure be needed for a football or soccer game? Unlocking concessions for box seats seems a rather paltry reason for bio metrics. None the less, for now, this is a voluntary trial.

A​ustralia is strong-arming compliance for COVID-19 vaccinations:

According to a report from 9News Queensland, the department has ruled that unvaccinated teachers who have been allowed to return to their employment this term after being placed on leave without pay, will cop yet another financial blow, with a “reduction in remunerationfor a period of 18 weeks.

T​his isn’t necessarily digital control, but it operates in the same way: comply or else you are less-than. You get less access to the things the obedient get.

Japan has been trying to push digital tracking and identification since 2016. The Japanese government is considering leveraging access to public healthcare to gain broader compliance.

[T]he reluctance to go digital extends beyond the health care system. After numerous scandals over leaks and other mistakes, many Japanese distrust the government’s handling of data. They’re also wary about government overreach, partly a legacy of authoritarian regimes before and during World War II.

T​he country struggles to digitize in general as it still is heavily analogue in functionality. Most things are still done by mail, and in cash.

W​hen thinking about where you are going as a nomad, factor in digitized the destination is, and if that furthers your efforts to be free.

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