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[- What's the best way to be totalitarian in the tech age?
By amy, Section question corner
Posted on Thu May 22nd, 2003 at 03:50:22 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Slashdot ran this story the other day about how in Korea, people posting to message boards are required to use their real first and last names, not nicks. That made me reflect on Trebor's recent story about Delta airlines, in which the culprit in governmental privacy invasion appears to be a corporation, not the government itself. This made me think...


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...of all the things I've been reading about recent legislation like the USA Patriot act, which compares it to Stalinism et al. Comparisons like that always are attention-grabbers for Westerners because Stalinism and other primarily-Eastern totalitarian behaviors were/are so in-yer-face; a Westerner wonders if it's the shape of things to come. Well, is it? I'm wondering if it even needs to be. It seems to me that Western-style government coercion is much more subtle. If I write something like this post, I don't worry about whether I'll be arrested off the street; I worry that it all goes into "my FBI file" and then someday, "something" might happen...

Discordia encourages people to use their real names in postings so we can generally know who we're talking to, but of course, nobody is forcing you. On the other hand, it doesn't matter, because Western-style network surveillance can and does trace you without your using your real name. Is the Korean govt. just less technically proficient? Or is the infrastructure less so? (E.g., is it more difficult for the government to get server logs from message board owners in Korea than it is in various Western countries?) Or is it more a difference in style - that Korea prefers direct coercion of dissenters, while Western govts. prefer to give people the feeling that you never know when and how big brother is watching... ?

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