Over the weekend, the NY Times had an article that's stirring some discussion
online, about China's new high-tech surveillance campaign
, involving a ton of surveillance cameras combined with ID cards that include a ton of personal data about each individual. Much of the discussion is focused on the fact that US companies are often the suppliers providing the technology to make this possible -- the type of thing that gets Congress all riled up
to start grandstanding. However, as you read through the details, you have to wonder how different things really are in the US. Admittedly, the Chinese plan goes further than what's being done elsewhere, but the Boston Globe (owned by the NY Times, incidentally) has a totally different article on how much money the Department of Homeland Security is spending on surveillance cameras
for state and local governments around the US -- as well as an article on the push for the Real ID Act
that would require a national ID card. Now, the easy defense for that is that it's to help defend against crime and terrorism -- but that's almost exactly the same claim the Chinese government is making. So unless we're willing to look at the same issues in the US, it seems rather hypocritical to complain about US firms supplying the technology for China to do something quite similar to what we're doing at home.