How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother

from The Atlantic

In 2014, Cass Sunstein—one-time “regulatory czar” for the Obama administration—wrote an op-ed advocating for a cashless society, on the grounds that it would reduce street crime. His reasoning? A new study had found an apparent causal relationship between the implementation of the Electronic Benefit Transfer system for welfare benefits, and a drop in crime.

Under the new EBT system, welfare recipients could now use debit cards, rather than being forced to cash checks in their entirety—meaning there was less cash circulating in poor neighborhoods. And the less cash there was on the streets, the study’s authors concluded, the less crime there was.

Perhaps burglaries, larcenies, and assaults had gone down because there was simply less to readily steal. Perhaps, also, the debit cards deterred people from spending money on drugs and other black market goods. While nothing was really stopping them from withdrawing cash and then spending it illegally, the famous Sunsteinian Nudge was in effect—the very slightest friction in the environment pushed people away from committing crime.

The year after Sunstein’s op-ed was published, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a student at Columbia University was arrested and charged with five drug-related offenses, including possession with the intent to sell. Supposedly, his fellow students and customers had paid him through the Paypal-owned smartphone app Venmo.

More here.

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21 Responses to How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother

  1. Joshua Gavin April 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    Its very interesting to see the lengths and bounds that the American government will go to infringe upon the rights of its own people. Often times I find myself in the minority with a pro surveillance approach regarding the NSA, FBI, and CIA, but when i read stuff like this it makes me wary. We live in a time where everything and everyone is accessible by so little as a mouse click, and as such we need people making sure that this flow of information is not being used to harm the American public. But when I see things that some might consider “unsavory” being punished that really irks me. America was founded on the belief that as long as your actions are not inherently malicious or harmful to another human, then you should be able to live your life as you choose. Instead we see a complete and utter abuse of power by the Department of Justice and that sickens me, because it makes its own supporters doubt themselves. Often I say in arguments that there is no way the Government is concerned with petty illegal things, and that they are using this vast ocean of data to keep Americans safe. Now we see that it is in fact quite the opposite. If these people want to choose to purchase guns, or act in an adult film, then that is their choice. Many might not agree with that choice, but our country was founded on the idea that the choice is theirs to make. All in all we as the American people really have to tread the fine line of what is keeping us safe and what is clearly an abuse of power.

  2. Tyler Cherney April 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    The Obama administration thought it was a good idea to promote a cashless society, on grounds it would reduce petty street crime. Based on EBT recipients using a debit card system it would promote alleviate checks being cashed and paper money being circulated through poorer neighborhoods. In addition to the crime rate reduction, they were hoping the money wouldn’t be able to be used in less illegal drugs and black market items but this ended up hopping on the bandwagon of ever changing society and created a bottleneck for a world of limitation, control, and surveillance which the poorer communities see enough of.
    The article goes on to depict the financial censorship that is already occurring and what it will evolve into. A type of censorship that is unbarred by any meaningful legal rights or guarantees. In an age of financial censorship and regulation, we begin to have an ever-diminishing wall of the very few privacies we have left. In my opinion with the credit card companies as large as they are with the goal of keeping consumers in debt we have very few freedoms left already with the Obama Administration shifting toward supporting these companies we have to step back and question the very fabric that the financial society is based upon.

  3. Mario Raccuglia April 9, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    I believe a cashless society is in the future, but much further away than most of us think. Most of the things I do nowadays are cashless as far as paying bills and what not. It needs to be refined though. There is too much at stake as far as it comes to privacy. The example about the adult-entertainment actress is a perfect example of how that can go wrong. It is a slippery slope to have immediate access to people’s information. If you can afford to pay for medication, you should not be denied it because of the profession you choose. I think the majority of the people in the country appreciate their privacy. As for crime, criminals are criminals. They will find some way to take your money, or to purchase drugs in another way. Cash is just a form of trade, if there is no cash, then they will find something else to use. Using electronic currency they could use something else as compensation for drugs. Like I said, criminals are criminals. They will find a way. Everything online is also more susceptible to hackers. I think there needs to be a step-by-step progression towards a cashless society. Automatic bill-pay I believe is the first step and is used by most people who get automatic withdrawals from their accounts.

  4. C. Goodwin April 9, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    This article immediately caught my eye because I am famous in my circle of friends that never ever has cash on him. If by a rare chance I do have cash, I treat it as free money and not actually money that counts towards my bank account. This is not a good habit to have especially if a friend gives me a large sum of cash to repay a debt or something. I have learned quickly from my father that now a days, with some intense discipline, a credit card can be an awesome tool to raise your credit score while also garnering some heavy rewards. So to read this article which highlights to transformation of our society being a cashed based society to now an electronic fund based culture.

    Cash is a great way to remain anonymous and a way to keep your private information private. But now with the growing popularity of online shopping, online banking, debit and credit cards, we are leaving traces and fingerprints everywhere we go. While this is good for forensic accounting to catch criminals, this is also opening a wide door for criminals to take advantage of this easily available data. How many time do we hear on the news that the next big retail chain had a data breach which in turn grants us a letter in the mail suggesting us to change our debit cards. With all this being said, as I stated before I am still an e-money advocated purely because of the convenience aspect of this. So many sometimes the newest and most convenient methods aren’t the safest.

  5. Amanda Crimarco April 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    Starting in a world that was majority cash, we are now becoming a society that may very well end up as a cashless society. I do not know how soon, but I do believe that one day in the future we will be known as a cashless society. With debit cards, credit cards, and other forms of payment, there is becoming a smaller need for cash in order to make payments in today’s day. The article gave the example of welfare recipients now having the ability to use debit cards rather that cashing checks. By doing this and lessening the amount of cash circulating in poor neighborhoods, the rate of crime is bound do go down. In addition to this, I agree that people are also going less likely to use cash for things such as drugs or deals on the black market. I feel as though that aspect of a cashless society could be an improvement in the system and may be beneficial.
    However, the fact that cash is turning into information through these numerous transactions can be dangerous. Information is sent around through various systems or companies, which will bring forth the huge issue in America on privacy. With all of the credit cards and debit cards out there, various different companies and people have instant access to the information that you put forth. This is where I feel that a cashless society has the ability to bring about lots of problems and danger for Americans. The article was able to give some specific examples, such as that of Eden Alexander. I agree with the article when it explains that a cashless society will make it more possible for the vulnerable to experience something of that nature.
    Even though there may be some benefits to a cashless society, I think that in this situation the cons will outweigh the pros. It has the ability to create even more problems on top of those that already exist.

  6. Mark Gernhardt April 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Two parts of this article that peeked my interest are that cashless society is lowering crime rates and That is also helping people who are committing crimes to be caught easily. Since barely anyone has cash in their pockets anymore it makes sense that crime would go down. Since people mug people for the cash in their pockets if there is less easy money to steal from people. When i say easy money i mean that money that you can quickly use. Of course people can still get mugged and robbed for their phones and other accessories but it takes a lot more energy to take those items and turn them into cash to use.

    The act of catching people is also made easier by a cashless society. The article stated that people don’t like wasting time and energy to go to an ATM to get money they use payment apps. I feel like this benefit is a double edged sword. It is easier to track people down but if they don’t get caught selling drugs on the apps and find an effective method to hide what they’re selling. The benefits of no cash disappear and can actually become a huge problem.

  7. BCiberey April 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    This article was especially interesting to me in the sense that it addresses a very prevalent issue and topic. Conversation regarding electronic money transfers and cashless systems is currently being discussed in almost all sectors of business, however a large portion of the discussion relates directly back to my field of study, accounting. Although I have read many articles, listened to many podcasts and radio talk shows, and done much research on this topic, this is one of the first times I read an article discussing how the president is now considering switching welfare over to an electronic/cashless system. Initially, my impulse reaction was to agree that a cashless welfare system would reduce crime, however the more and more I read of this article more convinced I am that this may not be the case at all.

    Most would think that a cashless system that required those on welfare to use debit cards instead of checks, would reduce burglaries, larcenies, assaults and purchases on the black market. The idea of the “Susteinian Nudge” where changes in the environment push people away from committing crime, was what was said to be in effect. However, multiple examples highlight that the effects of a cashless system may be more negative than positive. One major issue lies in drug trafficking and illegal crimes from continuing over a cashless system and for cash to now be converted to information. An example of this is when a Columbia student who was arrested numerous times, moved his street business electronically and was drug trafficking through Venmo, having his customers put “funny descriptions” on the public purchase of their transactions of drugs.

    In an attempt to address the many issues associated with crime and cashless systems, the government implemented Operation Choke Point. In general, what this did was create more government control and scrutiny by forcing banks to monitor transactions and shut down suspicious vendors/activity. Unfortunately, the government’s attempts at addressing these issues have failed multiple times and it has been concluded that their efforts at addressing the issues have instead, “when it comes to anti-vice in particular, the poor suffer the most—they are held to a higher moral standard than others, and are policed and punished for straying from it” (Jeong).

    While reading this article, it was difficult for me to not think of the security issues that would result from changing the welfare system to a debit card/cashless system. Because technology and security are also two very popular topics in business and the news in general, many negative impacts of implementing a system like this, came to my head. One of the most obvious examples of this is the accessibility that results from this change from requiring welfare recipients to use a debit card/Electronic Balance Transfer, than the traditional check book that is in place currently and has been for years. It is a lot easier to steal one’s debit card (money and identity) and use it to make purchases, than it is for someone to steal a check book and write checks out successfully without getting caught. To me, although this type of system is thought to be able to monitor purchases more carefully and ensure that the money received from welfare is being used correctly and legally, I believe that instead, the result would be a lot more negative, requiring more issues for the government and police to address.

  8. Michael Colasurdo April 10, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    It seems like in today’s world our federal government is continuing to reach for more and more power. This article describes how as cash is being used less and credit cards more and as credit use continues to increase so does the surveillance of the federal government. This surveillance increase is something to worry about because we are in a country where we are now all seen as potential threats and there is no way to truly be in peace. Now as our government attempts to increase its power where does it stop? When does the Supreme Court intervene and decide that some of these actions are trampling on the liberties of its citizens. An example of this reach for power is the Apple encryption issue that has been going on for several months now. When the federal government already is capable of spying on a majority of your life is it really that necessary that our phones are hacked as well. If this continues and we do nothing to limit the reach of the government then we will be living in a world where we are afraid to voice our opinions and always be looking over our shoulders. How ironic is it that those were the things this country was founded on and wanted to eliminate and now those concepts are being threatened by our own federal government.

  9. Morgan Cole April 10, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    Without cash transactions, all of the illegal transactions the government tries to shut down would not be able to exist. Money laundering, drug sales, prostitution would disappear if there was no cash. In this case, a cashless society would benefit the government and its citizens. There would also be less robberies of businesses and stores if there was no cash in the registers.

    The downside of cash transactions is that the government and anyone else with information finding capabilities can discover any one persons transaction history. The government will officially be able to track our every moves through our credit card transactions. By seeing our transactions, the government will then be able to discover things about our lives and put the pieces together to learn about every single one of us.

    Though a cashless society will get rid of illegal substances and actions that the government currently spends so much time trying to eliminate, it will also give them the ability to pinpoint its citizens and that makes for a scary future.

  10. David Webster April 10, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

    “You think it’ll never happen, until it does.” This is an old quote that I’ve heard used numerous times by family members of mine. In the context of electronic banking, I find it extremely relevant. I see this phrase to refer to the theft of electronic information; companies like venmo–which store important bank information mobily–may not seem vulnerable to attack at the moment, but could fall victim at any second.
    However, this article concerns a different type of predator to electronic banking: censorship and surveillance. The dangerous party in this instance is your government. Sarah Jeong, the author of this article, discusses how electronic banking gives the option to observe all transactions that occur through systems like venmo. Examples she gives are a student at columbia university who was caught selling drugs and receiving electronic payment. This is where the “surveillance” aspect of it comes in. Although one might be able to pose the argument that stopping things such as drugs deals (although they are harmless for the most part) justifies the means, the whole concept of “big brother” comes from the idea that once a boundary of surveillance is crossed, it is a slippery slope.
    A larger example of using electronic payments for the sale of illicit goods in services is the “Silk Road.” Silk road was an illegal operation used on Dark Web, which is a specifically configured part of the World Wide Web only access through certain software and authorization. Ross William Ulbricht, who was the supposed mastermind behind the operation, was arrest in a Library by the FBI. Ulbricht’s operation gained an estimated yearly revenue of $45 million.
    The part of this bust that is important to note is that the FBI will not disclose how they were able to track down Ulbricht. He used some of the best encryptions on dark web to protect himself, and yet still was not able to escape from government surveillance. With this, we can only imagine how little of our electronic lives are “private.”
    Apart from surveillance, the article also brings up the important point of censorship. The story of Edin Alexander, and adult film actress, being discriminated and profiled is troubling. Banks assumed that Alexander was making transactions regarding drugs use, when she really was receiving medical treatment. Additionally, when her friends started to start a fundraiser, WePay–an electronic payment platform–would not allow it because of Alexander’s involvement in the porn industry.
    Electronic payments certainly make our lives easier, but the access we give to our government will result in surveillance and censorship. How much are we willing to sacrifice?

  11. Michelle Iacono April 11, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    The world is moving toward a cashless society on its own. Direct deposit, debit and credit; easy to manage and easy to handle. It seems like a simple and natural process in the world of technology. The government promotes this as a positive way to reduce crime and help society. The problem is your every transaction can be tracked and monitored. Every purchase, every withdrawal, every move can be seen if the someone chooses to look. This is exactly what the government encourages and exactly what the government wants. Obama wanted people to believe that a cashless society helps eliminates crime and allows the social system an easier way to distribute money. While there is no statistical evidence to back this up, this is what they would have you believe.

    Cash equals privacy. You can buy what you want, when you want and without anyone knowing what and how much. Once you rely on your credit card, online shopping or the use of social technology, your purchase is now public knowledge and your privacy is gone. The government wants you to believe that cash equals crime, robbery and theft. What they fail to tell you is that credit and debit cards are compromised daily and your identity is stolen with the click of a finger. The more we give to technology, the more we sacrifice our own identity. What we all need to remember is, as of today, we still have that choice!

  12. Bruce Knops April 11, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    This article raises a very interesting point, if there was less or not cash floating around, would that have an effect on crime. The idea does make sense, and according to studies referenced to in the article it does hold true. Since people are carrying less cash or sometimes no cash, criminals don’t take the risk of having a stick up because they don’t think that it is worth the risk of possibly going to jail due to the likelihood that the person will not have cash on them. The idea of a cash free society seems to be more likely today than it would even ten years ago. Today many people already don’t carry cash.
    First let’s discuss the positives of getting rid of cash overtime. Without cash, as I previously mentioned, there would be an anticipated decrease in crime. Another positive for getting rid of cash that the article mentioned is that black market and drug deals would become very easy to keep track of and find and convict drug dealers and other black market merchants. Furthermore, as technology gets increasingly better as far as credit card and debit card security, this method of payment is become more and more secure. For example, recently stores are beginning to change over from traditional swiping technology of credit cards and moving onto the chip technology. The way that I understand this technology is that every time the chip is scanned into the computer, a completely new transaction with a unique number is created for the transaction and the card’s number is not able to be accessed from this number. Therefore it is more secure because if someone did get a hold of the transaction logs there is no record of the credit card numbers and therefore the thief cannot gain access to the credit card and steel people’s money. The final positive to changing to strictly card based transactions and getting rid of cash would be that there is little to no consequence to losing a credit card or having it stolen. I know that on my credit card, the second that I notice that it is lost or stolen I can go into my credit card app or go online and disable or freeze the card, that way the card cannot be used. And then if I find my card I can reactivate it with the push of a button, or if I cannot find the card it will remain inactivated and the credit card company will send me a new card with a new number on it and all of my money in my account remains safe. However with cash, if I lose my cash or it is stolen, there is no way for me to get that cash back unless I find it. Once it’s gone it’s really gone and I can’t get that lost or stolen money back.
    The negatives for switching to strictly card and digital money rather than cash is a bit smaller of a list. One of the negatives would be that everything is based on digital data and technology. If anything happens to the bank’s servers, that information could potentially be lost and then we will be left with no money and nothing to show for it. Furthermore, as we have seen with many online companies, hackers are a constant threat to anything that is stored online. For example, a few years ago PlayStation network was hacked a few people got charges on their accounts but PlayStation had to shut down their online services for months. Now I understand that this is just a video gaming network, but imagine that was your bank. You wouldn’t be able to access your money for months at a time, could you survive on no money at all for months? I doubt it. The final point that I have as far as the negatives of digital money rather than cash would be if something were to happen to the power grid or if the power was out. When the power goes out people go into a panic as we saw a few years ago with hurricane sandy. During sandy people needed to go shopping and buy supplies and gasoline which was hard to come by. But without any way of paying because of the lack of power, network or cash there would be no way to pay for these supplies which we needed to survive the natural disaster. There is just too much that could go wrong with this method of payment and I don’t think that the methods and infrastructure is ready for the leap of getting rid of cash altogether just yet.

  13. Burak Eraslan April 11, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

    I will be blunt with the idea of having a cashless society where there would be no type of currency that would be a physical material, it’s brilliant. Borderline miraculous. I love the idea of Debit cards moving onto software such as software, and soon moving to another currency like Bit Coin. Do I think that this is a great convenience? I really do believe so. The world of technology has made our lives so much efficient, as well as increase the ease of carrying currency with us. I do believe that although there will be a shift to a new way of currency outside of cash, I do believe that there is no way to stop street crime. Bad intentions are not only there because people can easily do it, it’s because some people just want to do bad, and can do so because they have the proper motivation. With that being said, this can also be applied to the currency without cash. If there is an app per say that would carry your cash, and can only be accessed and used with your fingerprint, or password, the robber can easily threaten you to enter the password or put your fingerprint on the phone. This will not stop someone who is out to do badly. I think that although some people may not go to such extremes, I do believe that there will be advancements in technology to the point where people would be able to hack the phone or currency system through technology instead of force. However, I do think that there is a point that is actually valid here with the assault levels decreasing dramatically with this. As stated, there will be a move to technology hack, which is only harmful towards material goods rather than a life or a person’s well-being.

    • Valeria Posso June 15, 2016 at 1:05 am #

      Burak, I personally think that you made good points that I did not consider to be significant factors in a cashless society. I, myself have a cash app that makes it a lot more convenient and simple when purchasing any services or items without cash in my wallet or when I am with friends who are all carrying cards. I only use cash when I know it’s necessary or if a business is cash only. Debit cards are a brilliant invention to prevent forms of theft or burglary. If a person finds a debit card, it’s more than likely that the card owner has already canceled it through the company. Unlike cash which is lost the mind, it’s misplaced or stolen. Technology has not only made our lives uncomplicated but also too reliant on it.
      Hackers exist. We have read about them on the news and when big companies suffer major losses due to hackers obtaining their funds through fraud. People who commit these crimes will learn to get smarter when they can’t hack something. There is always a possible way on the internet. When I was in middle school, I remember friends having codes to get into the MySpace website, which was similar to what is now Facebook, on the school computers. When someone wants something, they will find a way. I agree that if a burglar in the street found someone without any money, gold or valuables besides a phone, they will most certainly take the phone. A phone with or without the passcode can be traced or the burglar could find a way to deactivate the phone within the first hours and make it untraceable. At this point in our society, we already live cashless lifestyles and try to improve it by creating fewer ways for situations to occur that will put the public in harm. Technology is improving it even though at the same time it is hindering us because of how much and often we use it. Hackers know how much we are using which gives them more motive to hack apps like Venmo and Cash.

  14. Spencer Ross April 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    The answer is obvious right? Coercion and the initiation of force, which violates the non-aggression principle, is immoral and unlawful for everyone except the state. What this means is that government programs like operation Choke Point are not only damaging to the freedom of our economy but they are damaging in a social and political sense as well. As the article pointed out, if the democratic and liberal Obama administration has the power to monitor those organization and fields that they see as “high-risk” then there is nothing to stop a future republican or conservative to do the same thing to those programs that their views do not favor as the article cited abortion clinics. The term the government used to justify their monitoring of these particular programs or industries was that they are “high-risk” a meaning less thing that can be associated with anything. In fact the government should be more focused on the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) of the car industry because car related deaths are one of the highest cases of death in America.

    The bottom line is that if this form of coercion, restriction, regulation, and surveillance is continued than it will be harmful to the credibility of the government even more so than the credibility of the state has already been damaged or arguably destroyed. I personally do not agree with the continuation of all of the activities that the government has tried to regulate. But I can also see that going outside of the law to limit the rights of people defined in the laws leads down a dark path. There must be laws and the enforcement of such laws for a country to exist. Increasingly in this century there are times when the executive branch of the government disagrees with laws set by the legislative branch. A simple example would be immigration, one of the many executive orders that President Obama has used to bend the law of our land to his will.

    In no way am I promoting a deregulated financial sector, but I think that the loopholes for government control within these fields must be closed. The regulation of financial institutions is good, as long as it is fair to all consumers and to all businesses. It would not be fair, say if the government would label certain industries and programs as “high-risk” while other actual risky businesses are not regulated as a way to circumvent fair treatment for all. Another sad point that could be made from all of this is that President Obama and his administration probably are not even acting malicious with their intentions of this program. The sad brainwashing that these people have experienced is that they believe they really are contributing to the common good (a fallacy in itself) by restricting the freedoms of these certain people, industries, and programs.

  15. KoL Unger April 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    Cass Sunstein presented a compelling argument for switching to a cashless society. I agree that it would undoubtedly reduce crime in impoverished neighborhoods, but he failed to recognize that it would also open the door to other crimes. While robbery and potential murders from deals gone wrong may decrease, I think more deals of illegal products would be made. The case the article presented of the Columbia student perfectly showcases how digital money, using apps like Venmo, makes it easier for deals to go down. Now admittedly, for attending an Ivy League school this student was not very smart. Venmo is entirely public. Anyone in your contacts can see your transactions, facilitating the students “narking” on themselves. While this may seem like a case for paving the way for the government to stop more crime, Venmo is a poor example of what smart dealers actually use. Dealers of any illegal product would actually be aided by the transfer to digital money, allowing them to expand their business exponentially. Without the need to be physically present for the transfer of money and the forgoing of the corresponding risks of getting caught in a money transfer, deals can be made across the world. The money can be digitally transferred through apps like Circle and Bitcoin that provide anonymity to its users. While there is still risk in sending a package of whatever is dealt, more money is available to be made with seemingly lower risks. While some crime may be reduced in a cashless society, I think it would ultimately cause a spike in many other forms of crime.

    The article points out that in a cashless society, there would be a direct increase in censorship and surveillance. I would like to note that this was assumed on the basis of digital transfers happening through an app like Venmo that publicly displays your transactions. While I am positive that the government could find a way to crack the anonymity built into other digital transfer apps, in general these other apps provide security for your money and protection of your identity.

    Already we depend heavily on digital money; only a very small fraction of money in today’s society is actual currency. With this in place, it seems like the transition to a cashless society would be smooth if not inevitable in the end. The article proposes that we fight to maintain the presence of cash in society. Cash provides the opportunity for privacy, the ability to make transactions without the government knowing. I see the article’s point in fearing the loss of our right to privacy in regards tour financial actions with the disappearance of cash. However, while I acknowledge this, I do not know if it will be possible to maintain cash as a currency. I think it will soon become archaic and so inconvenient according to future standards that it will ultimately fade out. I think the only way to prevent our loss of financial privacy is to continue to progress in cryptocurrencies, but a cashless society will be a reality in the near future whether we desire it or not.

  16. Peter Senkwosky June 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    After reading the first comment from Joshua Gavin, I couldn’t help but write a comment, because I completely agree with him. I’m not one to be against big brother, but this op-ed that Cass Sunstein wrote, I think, has way more to do then stopping crime. Do I think their agreement are true, yes. Most street crime deals with money, especially in improvised areas. Stopping the flow of money to these crime rings, could put out some of the smaller less organized criminals. But what I think they need to look more into is the higher organized crime that already uses the internet.
    Now for the op-ed Cass wrote, I believe they are more looking towards putting eyes over the internet, more of a change to have “Big Brother watching you.” Fighting cyber-crime has always been on the addenda on the government, and they been doing a better job, but going paperless so that the government can look over more what we are spending is not the way to do it. There will always be back pages, and bit coins for people to use to spend money secretly on the internet. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel more secure having my money in cash, then electronically where someone can hack and take my money. More money is taken over the internet by hacker, and this number is in the billions, then robberies each year.

  17. B. Chen June 18, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    We are living in a time where “the big brother is watching” has become one of the most common phrases and it is being used to refer to the government surveillance on the people. It gives the impression that nothing people do is actually really in private because the government is kind of monitoring every move by all citizens. Another thing that is gaining popularity in this current world is the society shifting from the traditional paper money to electronic money. Firstly, one would find it ironical that a society that is afraid of being monitored by the “big brother” is working so hard to become a cashless society, where all transactions are done electronically. The irony of this is that electronic transactions leaves trails that are so easy to follow and monitor people than when they use cash. That means a cashless society will make the work of “big brother” a lot easier. This can actually be the reason why in the article it is the top government regulators advocating for adoption of electronic money transfer.

    However, on one side, the cashless society has so many benefits that everyone would enjoy. As indicated, it reduces crimes such as burglaries. One would however think that this crime will only get replaced by a new kind of crime which might involve hacking into the electronic systems and cards and steal the electronic money “electronically.” This is not really the case because as stated earlier, electronic money can be easily tracked down as the trail of transfers can be easily seen. The fact that this trail can be that easily followed and the thieves easily tracked down, it is also the same way that the “big brother” will have been strengthened in his surveillance roles.

    In my view, the surveillance by the “big brother” may be largely seen as infringing on people’s rights such as privacy rights and such. However, I find it as being undertaken with good intentions. The main intention is to be able to provide security to the people and therefore that should at least cancel out the negatives that come with the breach of privacy. I think between a safe high monitored society is better than an insecure society that has all the rights to their privacy.

  18. Matthan Martir November 11, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

    This article similar to many other articles I’ve read in the past is worrisome. With the rapid progression in technology, privacy has become scarce. I believe Officials were taken off guard by the rapid progression of technology and failed to accommodate. There is little to no privacy over the internet these days. Once you put something out there, it can be easily accessed by anyone. With the NSA, FBI, CIA, and many other foreign intelligence agencies, it is easy to feel as if you are always being watched without even knowing. The article hits that information can be tracked based off of electronic transactions is scary. With the introduction of credit and debit cards and a “cashless society”, crime may have gone down in the streets, but it lead to a whole new plethora of crimes. You can find ways to limit people from doing certain crimes but people will always find new ways to beat the system. With that being said, it also led to different kinds of crimes such as an invasion of privacy.

    No one really thinks about where all that information goes or could go when buying something with a debit or credit card. No one really thinks about what information is being sent over and no one really thinks about how easily it is to access that information. I know I don’t. However, I think it is beginning to become the time where we all have to have some caution about this though because it is that easy and it will be that easy until we find a way to limit these crimes.

  19. Nicholas Marinelli March 10, 2018 at 7:43 pm #

    At the time this article was written, I can agree with the studies and claims that a cashless society will result in less crime. Fast forward to present day- two years after the article was published- I feel as if these results simply do not hold water in an ever-changing environment.

    It is amazing how change is occurring so rapidly in society and how far technology has evolved in the past decade. The reason I feel that crime will cease to decrease is because of cybercrimes and offenses that are unseen from the everyday authorities in neighborhoods. I love the idea of a cashless society- it is smart, efficient, and another sign of our growing technological advancements. Credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Alt-coins, and money transfer apps like Venmo will definitely be the future but I do not believe it is safe to put so much trust and completely backing in this technology.

    I never heard of the company Venmo until I came to college- ever since I stepped on campus everyone has always brought it up, asked if I can transfer them money, or almost exploded when I told them that I did not have it. I had always carried cash and a wallet on me, but I am seeing less and less of that from people my age. People have their phone, credit card already in their phone, and ID on the back of their phone and that is it. Simple, efficient, and deadly.

    You may ask why “deadly”; in the “old days” when people would get jumped and robbed they had their wallets taken. They lost a credit card or two and some cash. Now, when people are robbed, their entire life is taken from their hands and we are helpless; your phone is taken with all the records of bank transactions, numbers, codes, passwords, locations- everything. This is the effect of going paperless and having everything at the palm of your hand. Yes, it is so simple to leave your house this way, but you are so vulnerable to attack.

    The other attack you are vulnerable to is a cyber-attack. It may not have been as prevalent in 2016, but the technology that has advanced since then is unprecedented. It is so easy to hack someone’s account from across the globe; once again, all information is stolen without a trace. Hackers walk the streets of wherever you live, with portable devices that scan credit cards when walking by, and you have no idea they did so.

    I am one of my only friends to always carry cash on me and will definitely continue to do so. I feel like I have a greater responsibility with the cash on hand because if I spend it all- it is gone, whereas if I have my credit card I can swipe, swipe, and swipe without even realizing what I spent. As to crime rates- there is no doubt that it will continue to fluctuate, or even increase- as we turn to a paperless society. It is only a matter of time until hackers and technology experts find a way to crack some of those “trustworthy” apps.

  20. Mawusimensah Mears March 11, 2018 at 9:39 pm #

    I see a cashless society in our nation’s near future. The new era of technology has given our generation an ease of accessibility when it comes to socializing, acquiring new information and purchases. Applications like Venmo and Cash app would probably reduce the number of crimes committed in low-income neighborhoods. The downside to that is that leaves a new door open to white-collar criminals who seek to use this technology to initiate fraud. Since these apps make transactions public, financial predators can easily access information over the internet. It seems like the more advanced technology gets the more privacy issues arise.
    The convenience of these money apps is what attracts us but some people don’t look ahead to predict the risks that come along with making online transactions. these online transactions are more traceable than the old-fashioned exchange of currency. So in a sense, “Big Brother’s” all-seeing eye will be monitoring our cash flows. There are ethical issues that come along with these apps. The practice of using these apps wouldn’t put an end to the black market, but those who use this app for illegal business transactions would be subjected to having their transactions monitored. This could lead to an increase in the number of arrests related to the black market.

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