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121836New revelations of vast NSA programs to monitor telephone use to intercept terrorist plans again raises the question of whether the effect of such whistle-blowing of top-secret security processes adds to the cleansing potential of democratic transparency or degrades the ability of our government to protect the population.

The answer is that such revelations result in both increased public oversight, or in other words, enhanced democracy, but also a possibly somewhat weaker security apparatus. In our post-1984 world, where our national politics have been accurately described as “a carnival of dysfunction,” the regular exercise of democratic oversight by the people, through intrusions by well-meaning whistle-blowers and responsible news media, is one way to preserve the fundamental principles of our democracy. My belief is that the cost of such “intrusions” into the inner sanctums of our government security establishment are justified by the balancing results of political and governmental accountability to a society of free people — a people who yearn to remain free in a complicated, dangerous information age.

Chongqing, the world’s largest municipal area with a population approaching 34 million has let a contract under its Safe City program to install 500,000 video surveillance devices. 1984 is coming to Chongqing, as one of China’s leading manufacturing hubs (cars, computers, defense) catches up to the future. However, with its dense air pollution, which we experienced in October, it may take even more cameras to see all that is going on in this sprawling population center.

In the following excerpt from Jamie Malanowski’s article on http://www.trueslant.com, we see  the “survelliance state,” — Great Britain — gone amuck. Before you program your I-Phone to tell all your friends where you are at any given moment, give this discussion a thought.

“Instead, the cameras catch people in the act of performing the kind of infraction that Gordon Brown committed—things that are embarrassing, things that should be ignored that instead cause tons of explanation, things that everybody does. Everyone in London seems to have heard a story like the one about the university security sweep that was aimed against car thieves but instead caught two faculty members snogging in the back seat of a sedan. That was an accidental discovery, but as it turns out, local governments, armed with souped-up surveillance capabilities invested in them with new anti-terror laws, have been targeting people suspected of littering, fishing illegally, dumping, and applying to a school outside their area of eligibility. Seeking al-qaeda, we found cow-tippers. Last January, documents were revealed that suggested that the South Coast partnership, a cooperative venture between the Kent Police and the Home Office, was planning to use unmanned spy drones of the type employed in Afghanistan, in policing the population. Hey, it’s not a black helicopter, but it’s close.

“And CCTV is just the beginning; British civil libertarians have been fighting other recent Labor Party initiatives include the institution of a biometric national ID card, the creation of a national DNA database, fitting all cars with tracking devices, and instituting systems for tracking all e-mails, phone calls and internet use. The glib line often cited to justify these measures is “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.’’ But everybody’s got something to hide. If you don’t believe me, ask Gordon Brown.”

via Gordon Brown’s Ironic Demise: Surveilled on His Own Petard – Jamie Malanowski – Topic A, Among Others – True/Slant.

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