Surveillance Society: How Different Is The US From China?

from the some-similarities-here... dept

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.

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Comments on “Surveillance Society: How Different Is The US From China?”

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Anonymous of Course says:

A chilling effect

The differences between the USA and PRC
are obvious. A surgeon uses a knife to
help save people’s lives but a murder can
wield the same tool to an opposite effect.

I’m mostly worried about the chilling effect
such intrusions could create in the USA. Do
we want the kind of society where everyone
feels that they’re being constantly observed
by the state?

And what of abuse? The temptation to use the
system to alter any political outcome to one’s
advantage will be difficult to resist. Irresistable
in fact, if past performance is an indication.

I can almost feel the boot on my face even now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Sigh. Have you ever lived under a totalitarian regime?

I’ve never been shot in the head but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t object to the idea.

Growing up in Hungary you should have learned that totalitarianism is bad so I am surprised that you don’t understand that to avoid it requires constant vigilance. Perhaps that lack of understanding helps explain why places like Hungary succumb to it. History shows, my friend, that coming from Hungary doesn’t exactly make you and expert on freedom. In fact, I would say that the ignorant remarks were actually your own.

Sneeje says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The only reason you would say that is because you don’t know what you are talking about. You claim that we are becoming a totalitarian regime with no real knowledge of what that means. Our country is more free than *any* other country on the planet, and we’re not the only ones that think so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“another 9/11 looks better than allowing the U.S. to become a totalitarian government.”

Ummm… is not the implication of this statement that we are headed in that direction? You are quibbling semantics

I, the author of the post to which you attached your reply, never said that. Are you really that ignorant or just dishonest? That is not a question of semantics.

Perhaps, have grown up in a totalitarian state, you are simply unable to recognize truth. Still, your credibility is sinking even lower, if that’s possible.

SailorRipley says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

so you grew up in Hungary, but refer to the USA as “our” country?

I’m not trying to catch you in a inconsistency, just want to verify how I read it is correct…

anyway, you might have grown up in Hungary and as a result think the USA is awesome…however, your claim that “our country is more free than *any* other country on the planet“…

well, as the AC says: “You are either being less than truthful or are continuing to speak with ignorance.

try most of the Western European countries, by any average citizen’s definition of free(dom), they will do better than the USA…it might have been a close call prior to 9/11, but since then, and among other things because the draconian Patriot Act, surely you can’t seriously think that the USA, (if at any time at all) still is the most free country in the world

TheDock22 says:

I don't get it.

How is a national id card going to save us from terrorists and illegal immigrants? It is extremely easy to make a fake driver’s license and even easier to buy someone’s card who has been stolen. Not to mention it only takes one hack into the database (which I doubt will be that secure) to issue out “legitimate” cards to the terrorists.

The cameras are silly because they aren’t cost efficient. I still like the idea of microchip tracking for people. It would contain very little data about me and I doubt the government would waste their time monitoring the average citizen. What do I have to hide? Nothing, that’s what. I’d volunteer for the program in fact, if one existed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Think about this:

What would the people who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution have to say about how easily “The People” are giving up their rights?

The fought a war of rebellion against their own government (and won).

And how are we repaying them? By handing all that they fought for back to an oligarchy, in the name of convenience, fear, and apathy.

Jefferson and Adams would puke.

So easily bought off with things like: not afraid if you have nothing to hide.

Just because the cell door is unlocked, doesn’t mean you don’t live in a prison.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

The citizens of Philadelphia voted to allow the city to install security cameras on streetlights. I guess when you face crime and violence they way they are, cameras are a good thing.

As for the countries founders and their opinion? Lets see, if it were up to them, slavery might still be around, since most of them owned them.

The realities of today are much different than they were in the past, to not look at what is possible isn’t a good idea and childlike.

Jenny (user link) says:

Profit says

Profit says the world. Profit says everything. For a group or a company, or just a organization, why does it choose to do this thing instead of another thing, why dose it prefer to do it this way instead of another way? Profit says. Because they have to survive, and profit from their choice is just the way they can survive. There is no need to worry about the possible threat that is far far far, since China would not prefer to miss the good time to develop its economy and improve their people’s living standard. As a matter of fact, a lot of American companies are ready to enter the Chinese market or expand their business with Chinese partners. A good case in point is the ever active deals between American companies and Chinese companies on ACB2B (AmeriChinaB2B).

Anonymous Coward says:

If it were up to the *majority* of them, slavery would have been eliminated from the start. Two southern states forced the removal and since the rebels needed a majority to pass the declaration. they did.

The realities of today are *not* much different *except* that we have denser populations, instantaneous global communications, weapons available to “the people” are nothing compared to what the world’s armies have, and the world is much more “civilized” than it ever has been.

Every generation thinks today is so much different until they *become* the previous generation. Then they realize that human nature doesn’t change.


‘In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson listed the British crown’s support and importation of slavery to the colonies as one of the grievances:

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.”

The passage, however, was edited out by request of the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia. Jefferson (himself a slave owner!) remained upset about this removal of the condemnation of slavery until his death.’

simply_truth says:

how different is the US from China?

wow.. anyone who has to ask that question is pretty damn ignorant. take a trip to China sometime. furthermore..the purpose, motivation, and actions of China are so far from those of the US – where both governments are concerned – that there is no similarity in spite of any surveillance being peformed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: how different is the US from China?

wow.. anyone who has to ask that question is pretty damn ignorant.

Anyone who can’t see any similarities developing is both ignorant and blind.

take a trip to China sometime.

I have. And not as a pampered tourist but on business.

furthermore..the purpose, motivation, and actions of China are so far from those of the US

Not entirely. The US has more than one politician motivated by the thirst for power as evidenced by their actions.

where both governments are concerned – that there is no similarity in spite of any surveillance being peformed.

The similarities are steadily increasing and surveillance is only one example.

simply_truth says:

Re: Re: how different is the US from China?

Anyone who can’t see any similarities developing is both ignorant and blind.

both a wheelbarrow and a jet airplane have wheels, but that doesn’t mean they are near being similar.
if you’ve been to china, then you know of the complete control over its citizenry. the US is exerting more control than it ever has over its citizenry, but still is a far cry from china’s level of scrutiny.

The US has more than one politician motivated by the thirst for power as evidenced by their actions. The similarities are steadily increasing and surveillance is only one example.

every country has politicians with a thirst for power – however the level of power, control, and manipulation by the chinese government over its citizens is far from anything the US does. our form of government does and can protect against any remote similarities between china and the US ever becoming more than that. furthermore, the chinese cannot have hope because their system allows for no change. our system allows for change, and we’ll see that post this adminstration. any rational informed person can keep updated on the big picture and note the fluctuations without becoming a ‘chicken little.’

Anonymous Coward says:

“There is no greater mistake we of this generation can make than to imagine that the tendencies which in other countries have led to the nightmare of totalitarianism will, as they appear in our own midst, politely pause – out of some delicate respect for the American tradition – at a point where they would begin to affect our independence of mind and belief. The forces of intolerance and political demagoguery are greedy forces, and unrestrained. There is no limit to their ambitions or their impudence.”
George Kennan, US Diplomat, scholar, author, called by many the “Conscience of America”

Bob Jones says:

The difference? One is a police-state by force, the other is becoming a police-state by choice.

The chinese people are probably not worried about Usama Bin Laden or some AfghanIraqIstans, they have no choise but the communist government … ofcourse in years to come, it will be harder and harder to keep them away from freedom – 1.1 billion people? You’d need an awful lot of power to achieve that, unlikely.

The US (and others) are walking into a police state by choice, how can you fight it if you don’t see it, from lowering crimes to spotting terrorists, surveilance will help us all! Ofcourse there won’t by any camera’s pointed at the people behind them, they won’t be watched to see if they do something wrong … Its happening on so many fronts, the ever creeping surveilance and government control – the terror front, the crime front, the “health” front (smoking bans, transfat, etc), the green front (how long until we all have allowances?) and there are probably more .. a multi-pronged approach that keeps erroding freedom.

The i-Team says:

Try living in the UK

We are possibly the most watched nation in the world, our government is bringing in a mandatory ID card scheme in the next couple of years which is costing us billions of pounds and the police may now be granted permission to keep suspects without charge for even longer than the 28days instituted a few years ago… And we are supposed to be one of the freest countries in the world!
Oh well at least our news reports how much of a police state we’re becoming…

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Re: Try living in the UK

THe problem is that the Sheeple will still vote for either Brown or Cameron (The Lib Dems would be worse than either of thesse two, and the others have no chance of winning). The Lord is (and largely already has) beeing turned into a rubberr stamp for the Commons, since Lords are to be appointed by the Commons, meaning that there will be virtually no checks or balances on the power of the government. At least with the old Lords, on a big enough issue a large fuss could be made even if it had been rammed throught the Commons (think of the Fox Hunting act).

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