Cashless society: We need to take digital jail seriously

The Hub | | Feb 22, 2022

government banking and digital networks - Cashless society:  We need to take digital jail seriouslyWe have to adjust our assessment of government action to the realities of our new world

The move to a cashless society, which has been accelerated by Covid restrictions, makes it almost impossible to function in society without a bank account and a credit card. You can’t purchase many services with cash anymore. When my local coffee shop’s wireless service went down the other day and they couldn’t process digital payments, I offered to pay with cash. They didn’t know what to do. Like many businesses, they simply aren’t set up to handle physical money. And that’s assuming you have large cash reserves to begin with, as you can’t withdraw money from a frozen bank account.

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In 1988, when the Emergencies Act became law, you could probably still participate in society, albeit with some inconvenience, without a bank account. Not so in 2022. Now, without a working bank account, you can’t pay for a telephone or internet. You can’t make car payments, rent, or travel. You also can’t exercise most basic rights from freedom of speech to freedom of assembly. You can’t even pay a lawyer to defend you. Think of it as digital jail. There may be no bars, but you are far from free.

We need to adjust our assessment of government action to the realities of our new world. The government doesn’t need to break down your door anymore to effectively remove you from society. They can do it with the press of a button. Doing this to someone—a small business owner in BC, a public servant in Winnipeg, a student in Halifax—who made a small donation to support the convoy is a clear abuse of power. Doing it without due process is as despotic as Pierre Trudeau’s detention of left-wing professors and separatists without charge, trial, or access to legal counsel in 1970.

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