Saturday, March 5, 2011

Learning from China

This is one of those, "Why didn't we think of that!" developments out of China. The New York Times reports on an innovative means by which the Chinese are enhancing state security:
Beijing officials announced Wednesday that they intended to monitor the movements of millions of residents by means of information transmitted by their cellphones. One official was quoted on a government Web site as saying that the new program would provide “real-time information about a user’s activity.”

The project aims to monitor all Beijing residents who use cellphones — about 20 million people — to detect unusually large gatherings. One official said the primary use would be to detect and ease traffic and subway congestion. But Chinese media reports said government officials could use the data to detect and prevent protests.
This is something the US might deploy to track environmentalists, leftists, visa-holders, foreign students, and illegal immigrants.

But why stop there? In fact, since law-abiding American citizens have nothing to hide from their government, eventually this program of cell-phone tracking might be expanded to cover everyone.

UPDATE: We've just been informed by our friends at NSA that this program already exists, and China stole the idea from us.

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Dr. Rebecca Wolf
Undersecretary for Community and New Media
United States Department of Fear