Pakistan's interior minister is warning that outspoken critics of the current government could find their biometric identity cards blocked, leaving them without access to their bank accounts.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan also claimed that "hecklers" who bother government officials could have their passports blocked and even be arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) using Pakistan's national ID system, according to Newsweek Pakistan.
His threat is aimed at supporters of former Prime Minister Imrah Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party, and it came after some of those supporters harassed a member of the new government who was eating at a restaurant. The new government has charged Khan with crimes, so his supporters are now under extra scrutiny.
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Pakistani media outlets report that citizens are now being encouraged to turn in other citizens, recording videos of them and sending them to the government. The Nation reports, "The Interior Minister in a statement has appealed to the masses to report to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s Cyber Crime Wing if they face any intimidation at public places from the followers of chairman PTI Khan."
With the political situation in Pakistan deteriorating, the agency charged with getting people to register for the biometric national ID – the Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) – continues working with all political parties, according to the website Biometric Update. The National Database and Registration Authority maintains all electoral rolls in the country.
If a citizen's CNIC gets blocked by the government, they could then be blocked from daily activities like carrying out bank transactions, selling vehicles, and acquiring cell phone SIM cards.
Global Government Control via Digital Wave?
Tyrannical government control over people's freedom and finances has also been developing at unprecedented levels in several other countries, including communist China. And there are concerns about the European Union and the United States falling in line with the idea of digital identity monitoring as well.
As CBN News has reported over the last couple of years, China's move toward a cashless society with a digital currency mirrors how the entire world is literally being set up for heightened levels of government control.
Erik Bethel, a former U.S. executive director with the World Bank, said while the world fixates on private cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Beijing is busy building a digital version of its own currency, the Yuan, also known as the Renminbi, to control its citizens and eventually threaten the dominance of the U.S. Dollar.
"They've pretty much created all of the building blocks that will allow a central bank digital currency to flourish," Bethel told CBN News.
And it gives Beijing the power to track its citizens' spending in real-time.
"There will be a point where the People's Bank of China, the central bank of their country, is going to be able to look, peer inside of every single transaction, what everyone does, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," warned Bethel.
This means if you are a human rights activist or a Christian, authorities can use this new technology to punish you if you engage in activities they consider to be anti-communist.
Eventually, the U.S. and other foreign companies doing business in China will be required to use the government's new digital currency payment system.
'Chinafication' of the European Union?
Some are warning that the European Union is currently undergoing a "Chinafication." As CBN News reported this week, the EU will reportedly test a new digital identity program for its citizens later this year with a rollout planned for September 2023.
The so-called "digital wallet" will be an app on a person's phone, and for now, it will contain only the information they want it to include, such as medical or financial information.
Critics warn that it's a "Trojan horse" that will place too much personal information in the hands of the government.
One of its chief critics, European Parliament Member Cristian Terhes, was born in Communist Romania. He's been warning of the EU's so-called "Chinafication" since the EU made COVID passports mandatory.
"Clearly we are witnessing right now, the 'Chinafication' of Europe, because we see what is happening in China right now with the social credit score, where the government is monitoring ... all the people from the beginning to end, everything that they do, everywhere they walk," Terhes said. "They control everything and watch everything. This is an example of tyranny."
The EU insists the digital identity program will be voluntary. Skeptics are wondering how long before it becomes mandatory, for example in the case of a future pandemic, global financial crisis, or terrorist threat.
Digital IDs Open New Door to Identity Theft
Meanwhile, some lawmakers in Washington are urging President Joe Biden to establish digital identities for Americans as a way of fighting identity theft. There is also support in Congress. The so-called Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020 never made it to a vote but could be revived at some point.
CBN News asked an expert on digital identities if they are indeed a necessary safeguard against identity theft. The director of engineering at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Alexis Hancock, not only replied "No," but said digital IDs are more likely to encourage identity theft.
"I think this actually increases the attack vector," Hancock told us. "This makes you a bigger target in my eyes, especially if it's a government-issued digital identity. When you have something on the internet for a long time, there is an increased potential of it being breached in some fashion because of this long-term storage. And when you're able to associate something like that with a particular person, you can pivot from that long-term identifier to other information about them, and compromise says your bank accounts, or compromise some sort of information about you."
Democracy or Tyranny? Under Social Credit Programs, Christians Will Lose
In Italy, the cities of Rome and Bologna have begun social credit programs that reward citizens for good behavior that officials think will fight climate change, like using a bike instead of a scooter. A social credit system could be easily incorporated into a digital identity.
Austrian Catholic activist Alexander Tschugguel of the St. Boniface Institute, says that in any European social credit system, Christians will lose, because of their opposition to issues like abortion, which the EU views as a human right.
"Therefore I do not want the European Union to have the possibility to look into everything I do, everything I say, everything I have and how I move and where I am at any time," Tschugguel said. "Those systems are pushed by people who are highly anti-Christian."
Terhes warns that the EU's new digital ID is the next step in a process in which the government in Brussels will micromanage every aspect of people's lives.
He said, "This is what makes the difference between a tyranny and democracy: When you know everything about what your government does, that's democracy. When the government knows everything about you, that is tyranny."
In a commentary published on CBNNews.com, CBN's Chief Executive Officer Gordon Roberston said, "All you have to do is look at what's happened in Hong Kong over the past just two years and you get a very clear picture of where they're going. But they want to control, and they're doing it right now with social credit scoring where if you don't score a particular way you're not allowed to travel. That's already in place."
"But just imagine a government that if you step out of line they can now turn off all your money and do it instantly so you cannot buy or sell, you don't have the right in the marketplace to participate anymore," Robertson noted.
"That's what digital currency allows a government to do. And if you think it's just going to happen in China think again. The Federal Reserve already has a study group looking at a digital currency for the United States. Why are they doing that? Because they're afraid China will usurp the U.S. and become the world currency, that digital currency is taking over," he continued.
Last year, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen went on record indicating the Biden administration is interested in doing more research into creating a digital dollar.
But other experts warned there are other reasons not to use digital currency – surveillance. Thought you could be spied on using your credit card? With certain types of digital money – the bank, even the government – would know every purchase you make.