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Google May Close Gmail Germany Over Privacy Law 368

Matt writes "Google is threatening to shut down the German version of its Gmail service if the German Bundestag passes it's new Internet surveillance law. Peter Fleischer, Google's German privacy representative says the new law would be a severe blow against privacy and would go against Google's practice of also offering anonymous e-mail accounts. If the law is passed then starting 2008, any connection data concerning the internet, phone calls (With position data when cell phones are used), SMS etc. of any German citizen will be saved for 6 months, anonymizing services like Tor will be made illegal."
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Google May Close Gmail Germany Over Privacy Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:48AM (#19628145)

    I can walk around San Francisco and find hundreds, if not thousands, of open or misconfigured wireless routers. Anonymous access to anyone with a notebook.

    How does germany plan on enforcing this?
  • a New wall (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jrwr00 ( 1035020 ) < minus herbivore> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:00PM (#19628211) Homepage
    Great We take down one wall and another comes up, why does the government fear computers so much that they must spy on everyone, can't they have a little trust
  • Re:China (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:01PM (#19628235)
    Actually, that's a rather foolish analogy. In China, for one thing, Google maintains that some access is better than none. More importantly, the laws _are already that way_ in China, and have been for a while; it's not something that's about to be passed. Moreover, China is a more important market.

    In Germany, the law does not exist yet, and Google is trying to use its clout (maybe bluffing) to avoid letting that law pass.

    And finally, let's not compare content restriction to privacy. There's a difference between `we'll let you block the content you want' and `we'll give you whatever information about people using our services you want'. As far as I know, Google hasn't been placed in a situation in China where the latter has had to happen, though Yahoo has and didn't come through it very well. Which is worse is up for debate.
  • by wamatt ( 782485 ) * on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:03PM (#19628243)
    Its taken the luddite politicians 20 years notice the rise and power of the internet. Virtual will mirror real world as power is rested from the techies into corporate and gorvernments. Privacy will never be mainstream. Although it will still exist for those willing to go the extra mile. Enjoy it while it lasts.
  • One difference is that in the West, you can pull maneuvers like this and sometimes they actually make a difference. China probably wouldn't have cared much at all if Google had gotten petulant, and it certainly wouldn't have mattered to them whether or not their citizens lost access to something valuable. In Germany, who knows?

    And cynical types can always note that China is a much bigger market than Germany.

  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:05PM (#19628259) Homepage
    I know that's a joke but in reality there's almost certainly some truth in that. Not just Poland of course, but all of the EU. Germany is one of the most influential members of the EU in terms of forming EU law. If this law gets passed in Germany it's only a matter of time before they try and push it on the rest of the continent.
  • Why bother with the law? Seems to me all you need to do is *let* businesses do the tracking (which of course they're going to want to do, because data mining is especially useful for marketeers), and government just needs to occasionally ask nicely for copies?

    Better yet if you've also got a unitary executive to go along with it.

  • by Black-Man ( 198831 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:09PM (#19628287)
    Stand up and fight Germany, but let China and their ilk off the hook. Glad to see consistency w/ these companies.

  • Re:a New wall (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:09PM (#19628291)
    The government doesn't fear computers, it simply cannot allow citizens with computer getting strange ideas like their country could be governed better. They don't like citizens having too much information. After all, the European Union is all about Market, and they refer to their populace as "Consumers" first.

    They have to be obedient drones. And they will be.
  • Re:China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:12PM (#19628309) Homepage
    >br/> Germany pop.: 82,400,996 (July 2007 est.)
    China pop.: 1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.)

    I'm sure china having sixteen times the population of germany has nothing to do with it.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:21PM (#19628357)
    It IS specific to Germany in some respects. Remember, the directive only specifies the MINIMUM requirements for the law; The implementations are country-specific.

    Outlawing Tor is very much specific to Germany.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:27PM (#19628393)

    I'm sorry; I'm sure your concerns are genuine. I'm just confused that a UK citizen would be comparing just about anyone else unfavorably to themselves on the issue of surveillance. Am I totally off base, or is the UK that place in the world where CCTV cameras are more common than traffic lights? Isn't constant visual surveillance a hallmark of controlling, manipulative, and draconian regimes?

  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:34PM (#19628423) Homepage

    Exactly. Google's company policy seems to be the (rather prudent for a corporation) "follow the law in the countries in which you operate." In the US, they were able to refuse to refuse to do this [] because they have legal recourse, for example. This probably doesn't fly in China.

  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:40PM (#19628467) Homepage

    If you're not anonymous, you don't have real privacy. If what you're doing online is being monitored and linked to you, then the only thing that stands between you and that loss of privacy is some flimsy company policy, or in some places, legislation -- both of which always have exceptions allowing the information to be handed over to law enforcement for a variety of reasons.

    If the data exists, the government can get hold of it. You only have privacy if the data was never collected in the first place.

  • by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:41PM (#19628471)

    Yeah, privacy is dumb. Who could possibly use privacy for good purpose?

    Perhaps the political dissident who would be jailed for expressing himself in public.

    Perhaps the gay man who is unfortunate enough to love someone in Ala-fucking-bama.

    Perhaps the abused wife who is trying to flee from an obsessed husband.

    Perhaps the ex-con who wants to escape the shadow of his past and live legitimately.

    Yeah, privacy is the darkness that clouds everything. Sure.

  • by Kennon ( 683628 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:47PM (#19628497) Homepage

    Privacy should disappear. It's the darkness that allows evil to grow and spread.

    Wow why does it not surprise me that the url in your header points to a server? Disconnect from reality much? Anonymity does allow for evil but it also allows for an amount of good that outweighs any amount of evil. The ability to speak out with zero fear of repercussion is a foundation of free speech. If you remove that you begin dismantling the first amendment, at which point we start exercising the second amendment.

  • Re:Phew! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_womble ( 580291 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:51PM (#19628521) Homepage Journal
    Because the British government (meaning the cabinet and prime minister) love to have the EU do the sort of things they want to do, but might not be able to do if Britain was independant because of parliament and public opinion.

    The EU concil of ministers, being unelected, are not bothered by MPs or public opinion.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:22PM (#19628675)

    I'm hiding my full real name. :-)

    Actually, and perhaps rather paradoxically, very few of my on-line writings have my real name attached to them. I wrote here a little while ago about how I'd cancelled all my accounts on social networking sites as well.

    I have a very clear reason for doing this: in today's culture, posting under my real name gains me nothing and risks a lot. This is, in fact, where I came in. What we should have are real privacy laws, which prevent the kind of arbitrary collection, sharing and mining of personal information that businesses and governments are increasingly using as technology makes it easy. Until we have these, pseudo-anonymity is a somewhat effective defence, but it's only a band-aid for a greater problem.

    The other problem is that society hasn't yet learned that you shouldn't trust everything you read on-line and no-one is perfect. In a sensible world, a prospective employer finding a picture of you doing something stupid while you were a student a decade ago wouldn't be a problem, because they'd just think "Oh, well, a lot of us did stupid stuff when we were students". In a sensible world, a hint in a personal blog that you enjoyed chemistry would not result in police visiting your home because someone reported you as a terrorist. In a sensible world, mentioning your employer by name in a blog wouldn't get you fired (or at least, told to close down the blog or you'd be fired). And so it goes. But this is not, yet, a sensible world.

    Before we can reach that world, people need to grow up and realise that no-one is perfect. Finding the odd character flaw or past indiscretion is not the best criteria on which to judge another human being. As I've noted before, if I had taken personal offence every time one of my friends did something that hurt another of my friends, then I would long since have run out of friends. And yet, I know that all of my friends are basically decent people, and that it is just an unfortunate reality that sometimes relationships don't work out and people get hurt, so I am very glad to have the friends I do regardless of any isolated incidents that I might have disliked if I'd been on the wrong end of them.

    I am optimistic about this, but I think things have to get worse before they get better. With the current generation growing up with social networking sites who are data mining them like crazy, and who have little concept of personal privacy and why it matters, I think a lot of people are going to get screwed over the next 5–10 years. But after a little while, it will become pretty obvious to everyone that this is stupid. People will stop believing every little thing they read about someone, employers will stop vetting people extensively on their Internet footprint because the method will lack credibility, and when citizens/consumers realise how much they're getting screwed I think they will demand privacy laws that prevent the kinds of abuse that are increasingly happening today.

    So, until we reach that point some way down the line, when society has grown up enough to understand the value of privacy and the need to respect people's public personas in a world where most people have an Internet presence somewhere, I choose to protect myself from the damage by posting under pseudonyms on "casual" forums like this one. But I would rather live in a world with serious privacy laws and a grown-up society, where I could write my genuine thoughts here and put my real name to them, knowing that I wasn't going to risk being sued for saying something that inadvertently gave the wrong impression. In that world, I wouldn't need anonymity, and I would be happy to stand by what I write here, with my real name attached.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:30PM (#19628725) Homepage

    USA is a war country. The only way for the president to gain power is to declare a war. A war on drugs, a war on hippies, a war on terrorists, a war on geeks, a war on freedom. Good war or bad, it's what power hungry presidents have to do.

  • by lostlyre ( 774960 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:38PM (#19628771)
    You say there is a fine line. The line may be fine, but the choice is still clear: when in doubt, preserve a right - do not take it away. Surely you don't disagree with innocence until proven guilty or the right to bear arms in order to overthrow an oppressive government. Both can lead to bad situations such as setting a guilty person free for lack of evidence or murder. Anonymity is, up to this point, a natural human treasure-just another freedom we have. Once you let a ounce of it go, it's never coming back.
  • by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:39PM (#19628783)

    So, riddle me this: if "The 2nd Amendment" is all that was required for people to exact satisfaction from corrupt politicians who act with impunity, why haven't the leaders of our USA, surely a corrupt bunch whose shady dealings and flouting of constitutional rule have been more than amply public, been dropping like flies under a hail of patriotic bullets?

    Most bigots against homosexuals et al. are plenty public about their hatred and sometimes even murderous intent. Doesn't, in most cases, seem to help.

    The "light of the public eye" in most cases has very little but prosaic value, especially for people powerful enough to craft their own public image or, shock of shocks, actually own a PR firm or media outlet who will spin about them and their actions however they desire for the consumption of the viewing and judging public. You seem to have a very simplistic view of just how far the projection of power can extend its corrupting influence if you believe that people, upon being exposed to public wrongdoing will cancel the corruption of the powerful.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:39PM (#19628785)
    The purpose of data retention, of course, is for long-term profiling. The first example of how this was put to use by an oppressive regime is described neatly in Amazon's review of IBM and the Holocaust:

    The crucial technology was a precursor to the computer, the IBM Hollerith punch card machine, which Black glimpsed on exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, inspiring his five-year, top-secret book project. The Hollerith was used to tabulate and alphabetize census data. Black says the Hollerith and its punch card data ("hole 3 signified homosexual ... hole 8 designated a Jew") was indispensable in rounding up prisoners, keeping the trains fully packed and on time, tallying the deaths, and organizing the entire war effort. Hitler's regime was fantastically, suicidally chaotic; could IBM have been the cause of its sole competence: mass-murdering civilians? Better scholars than I must sift through and appraise Black's mountainous evidence, but clearly the assessment is overdue.

    The technology has advanced way beyond the need to scapegoat by something as simplistic as "being a Jew", of course. Now we can identify and track undesirables based on a far wider range of properties and prior acts. The technology is being built; the checks on government power are being eroded while the population is being suitably distracted; ministers with the appropriate philosophical basis are coming to power. There's no need for a massive conspiracy, just for these people to take advantage of the next terror/paedophile/whatever scare to further their own aims, while turning a blind eye to information which might really take the population out of a perpetual state of fear.

    When an apologist cries, "If you were really oppressed, you'd already be in prison for saying this!" he misses the point - far more efficient and reliable than silencing anyone who speaks against you, is to begin by drowning out with a louder beat all but those who present the greatest threat. If you are being left alone - if you haven't yet appeared on a harass-when-flying list; if you've never been photographed, searched, and "asked" to move on; if no-one's come to your door and asked "how you feel" about some political event - it is not a testament to your freedom, but a warning that you're not effective enough. Don't worry, the bar is being slowly lowered; just as ten years ago those who are now being picked out would have been left alone, give it another decade and maybe your voice will be a little too loud for your government's comfort.
  • Er, you're comparing apples to hedgehogs here.

    In Germany, they're trying to prevent abuses by the government by refusing to compromise on anonymity as required by a new law.
    In China, they're trying to gain a foothold in the market, which will allow them to help democratize information. Some access to information is better than no access to information, especially when they specifically say that results are being left out due to the government.

    I really don't see what everyone's beef with Google in China is. There are two choices here:

    1) Don't change, and have the Chinese government block you completely. Other search engines, run by or faithful to the Chinese government will take over and people won't get the results they need and won't have anyone fighting for them. You have no influence over anything now.
    2) Change, and have a market in China. Provide the Chinese people with as much information as you can given the restrictions placed on you, and try to help change government policies that you don't like. When hundreds of millions of people are using your service, you have influence.

    Do all you people *seriously* prefer the first option? If so, you're shortsighted fools. A temporary compromise is far better than a permanent lack of possibility to drive change.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:20PM (#19629061) Journal
    those of us living in the UK should instead be complaining about how our government at every turn tries to prevent from being bound to give it's citizens any form of protection against it's government.

    How did you get them to sign the Magna Carta?
  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:27PM (#19629093)
    What exactly does this particular bit of stupidity have to do with German privacy laws? And why is it that no matter what the problem or where it occurs, someone will use it as an excuse to say something derogatory about the US?
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kill-1 ( 36256 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:31PM (#19629119)
    I think the poster referres to The Council of the European Union. This council isn't elected directly. As you describe it consists of ministers of the governments, which are members of the executive. So the executive suddenly gains a tremendous legislative power.

    Your description sounds nice and democratic, but in reality checks and balances are way out of control regarding European legislation. And given the enormous impact some EU directives have, there is almost no political discussion let alone media coverage. The leading governments of Europe basically can change laws at will.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tolan-b ( 230077 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:34PM (#19629133)
    I hope you realise the UK already has far more draconian data retention laws than the new EU directoive is bringing in, and in fact was instrumental in getting the directive brought in too.

    We log more and for longer and we also allow bulk trawling of the collected data by MI5.

    You can rag on Europe over fishing and carrot jam if you want, but Europe is actually a strong restraining factor on the UK in terms of privacy and human rights in general.
  • Historical analog (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:34PM (#19629135)

    Disclaimer: I am an American, however, I was forced to take European history. Are people in Europe ever required to take American history?

    Let's start with your major contention: Basically it means they can push through the EU constitution that was thrown out by voters in 2 of the countries last time, without the pesky annoyances of, oh lets say, the people of the EU [Ed's note: I assume you mean the people of the two dissenting EU contries] voting on the matter...[A constitution that requires] only a majority of countries are needed for things to be agreed upon not unanimous...

    An example from US history would be the movement from the Articles of Confederation (which did require unanimous ratification of the Articles and the laws) to the US Constitution (which required a 3/4 ratification for the Constitution and simple majority for the laws). The reason the US Constitution only required 3/4 ratification was to force Rhode Island and Providence Plantation and North Carolina to join the Union (since they were known to oppose it) and leave a one state buffer. The reason why the simple majority system works better, well perhaps I best use a European example: "Poland was a country ruled by a council of 500 barons, all of whom had to agree for anything to happen. This allowed Poland to get ****ed by anyone who could make a simple decision."

    Basicailly, the Articles of Conferation were a flop, and there needed to either be one or thirteen states. Similarly, any EU requiring unanimous consent will also fail. History abounds with examples where the needs of building or running a nation mean forcing people into the social contract. There doesn't seem to be any other way for the world to work.

  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Elemenope ( 905108 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:36PM (#19629149)

    I submit to you that the distinction between a public and a private act is nearly dissolved in this day and age. Most meaningful tasks cannot be completed except by some portion occurring in traditionally "public" space, including all forms of communication but speaking in situ, all commerce, and indeed preety much all social life. A person's public habits and actions, when reviewed in full and codifiable such that they may be stored and compared, are a very powerful inferential tool for predicting private behaviors, opinions, and actions.

    The distinction between public and private was meaningful at a time and a place where an indivudual was exposed to public scrutiny only when they call attention to themselves. That is no longer true; surveillance technologies allow constant monitoring of individuals. For those who see no problem with this, ask have they ever had a bad hair day? A cranky mood? Occassionally sped or missed a stop sign? Problem is nobody is perfect in action, even in the narrow sense that they always do what they intend, all the time.

    Laws were designed to maintain public order; they cast a net of proscripted behavior slightly wider than those behaviors that actually are a threat to public order, because it is generally recognized than a simple practical safeguard against overintrusive law enforcement is that acts which are technically illegal but raise nobody's heckles are probably not a threat to public order. To wit, someone has to complain in order for one to believe that someone is aggrieved. With surveillance that is no longer the case; and yet we execute those same old laws in a heavily surveilled world.

    If the entirety of UK's public space were surveilled, then yes, I think that it would be nearly as destructive as comparable forms of private surveillance. The fact that on narrow philosophical grounds it seems more justifiable, due to our clinging to notions of "public" and "private" that are today practically dead, is why fewer people seem to care. And that is a pity.

  • VOTE PARENT UP! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmokedS ( 973779 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @02:46PM (#19629197)
    I very rarely post vote parent up posts, but this is just too important to languish at Score:2.

    Our national democracies is being systematically taken over by this mockery of a democratic system and the mainstream press is all but silent on the matter.
    The semi-informed Europeans point the finger at the present state on non-democracy in the US and feel superior. The truly informed Europeans are attempting to make the rest realize that we are just a few years behind. The same powers that have almost completely removed any real democracy from the US are hard at work doing the same to the EU.

    Please people, wake up and make your voices heard through protests, and through votes before it is too late.

  • Re:Phew! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @04:39PM (#19629783)
    How is a country that makes it illegal to speak favorably about Nazis a "bastion of freedom"?

    (Not that I have anything favorable to say about the Nazis, mind you.)
  • Re:Phew! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ghyd ( 981064 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:27PM (#19630111)
    "So in the end, I am convinced it is perfectly correct to say that this is all because of that EU directive and the horrific combination of fascists and idiots that supported it (to save the children) and (to catch the terrorists)."

    Maybe also because those countries have a stronger socialist tendency, and that socialism has a lesser respect of individual rights than free-market capitalism does.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:34PM (#19630143)
    As someone once said, albeit in a different context: "That's not even wrong!" :)
  • by vorlich ( 972710 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:41PM (#19630175) Homepage Journal
    Gründlichkeit or thoroughness is just so much part of the German character. Back in Scotland you could read the important parts of the Blue Book tax guide in the bookshop and easily identify any new legal tax avoidance strategies. You couldn't do that with the German Tax Books there are about 127 of them. My accountant just photocopies pages out and sticks them in the tax return. You have to pay canal tax but there's no canal and you don't get one either. As for thoroughness, Non-German partners are often very surprised when they clean the entire house from top to bottom only to have their partner point out that they forgot the single cup they drank their post cleaning coffee in which is standing on the immaculate sink - dirty. There is no mention of all the good work, because the concept of balancing good things against negative things (one good thing outweighs loads of bad things) is rather specific to English speakers. German anthropology uses the concept of a linear measure of perfection (or distance from it!) and the streets are so clean you could eat your dinner off them. Well, almost but this is the real reason behind this action, more national character than conspiracy.
    I should confess to reading lots of Tabloid newspapers though but I have also read Critique of Pure Reason if that counts for anything curiously neither activity appears to have had any lasting effect, whereas Counterstrike, now that's a whole different kettle of fish...
  • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scuba0 ( 950343 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @06:55PM (#19630659) Homepage
    There is a huge difference between the government recording and watching everything you do and a company that you volunteer to use their services if they can watch how you surf their webpages.

    The government forces the surveillance on you and could do tremendous damage, look at the US, Stalin, Hitler, Cuba, Venetzuela, Saudi Arabia and China. Next up is Germany and then the rest of EU. Happy hunting.
  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @09:06PM (#19631325) Journal

    the difference between us-american and european history is fundamental. in other words, a few thousand years. us-american history is in fact european history.
    That's a very Euro-centric point of view!! Ironic?

    but some us guys treat their 500 years of history like it was going back to the antique ages. that's not the case.
    How so? Who exactly treats it that way? This seems somewhat out of the blue... Are you trying to claim that because American history is at most 500 years, there is nothing to learn--lessons or otherwise? That seems a rather shocking thing to say..

    the usa population quite successfully wiped out their two real histories: natives are forgotten and europeans are not americans.
    Again, where the heck are you getting this? I went through 12 years of public education in the US, and believe me--we learned a great deal about our nation's treatment of native americans. Everybody knows of the "trail of tears" and of the deaths of millions of natives. I think you might be shocked by how many Americans have some native american ancestry today, btw... I have no idea where you are getting this crap.

    Your second point--"europeans are not americans"?? Europeans are NOT Americans. Many Americans may have at various times BEEN from Europe, but what on earth are you trying to say here? It doesn't make sense to me. America is fully derived from Europeans--population, philosophies (Locke and various Anglo/Scottish/etc philosophers played a huge role in the early days!) but that does not make us Europeans.. is that what you're claiming?

    all this "new-world" vs "old-world" crap because of a difference of 500 years.
    Ok, I'm starting to get it... i think this is a sore point that you rant on all the time? because NOBODY brought up "new world" / "old world" divide. (Though I would add that it was EUROPEANS who created the term New World, as it has been in usage for 500 years!!)

    there didn't much real change happen in those years either. maybe the civil war and the slavery thing, but my grandfather lived in a kingdom (small period of democracy in between), in a dictatorship, in socialism and finally in capitalism. he never ever changed his place of living, but he had to change his currency 4 times, he was from berlin.
    You're absolutely right. With the exception of the civil war (~5 years out of ~220) American society has been far, far more stable than that of Europe in the last 200 years.

  • Re:China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:35PM (#19632061)
    Yes, some states in the US execute people who have killed another human being. China executes people for things like corruption or drug trafficking.

    Inmates in the US typically spend over 10 years winding their way through the legal system before they are actually executed. Is there any semblance of due process in China?

    Last I checked, the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Brazil, etc had standing armies - sounds like those countries seem to think that "government enacted murder" is okay sometimes, too.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:09AM (#19633343)
    Maybe it would help to see that politics is not just a one-dimensional "left-right" scheme. Politics is usually at the very least two dimensional (with economic freedom on one axis and personal freedom on the other), there've been people who suggested even three and more dimensional systems, but the two dimensional already works wonders, usually.

    Generally you will notice that one-dimensional classifications don't work out. You had Hitler and Stalin (to take the politically extremes), one being, on the economic scale, a full blown free market supporter, with a no-bars attitude on the question how much you may profit from your workforce, the market and even the state (well, provided your bribes were high enough), the other one an (economic) communist with the forced collectivation of all production material available. So technically, in a one-dimensional system, they should be as different as they can be.

    The reason we perceive them as near equal is that they were both on the "personal freedom" scale in the same bottom. Both were dictators to the fullest degree.

    "Freedom" on both axes is a very liberal free market/free world model, bordering on anarchy. Such a system can actually be surprisingly stable if the people support it (the US were for some time quite close to this model). "Restrictive" on both axes is very close to a communist dictatorship. Restricting personal freedom while allowing the economy as much liberties as possible is a fascist dictatorship. And the complementary (personal freedom but tightly regulated/socialized economy) is ... something that hasn't been tried yet, I guess.

    So I don't subscribe to the one dimensional "social - liberal" left-right notion. Politics is far more dimensional than that, it can't be condensed into one variable.
  • Re:VOTE PARENT UP! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:43AM (#19633455)
    A few years behind? Personally I think we're about to show the US how to build the road to a democratorship.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @07:09AM (#19633963) Homepage
    Interestingly what the law amounts to, if you were, in old world speak, to send a letter via snail mail with out a return address you would be committing the modern day equivalent of a criminal act, what other twisted extension could you have, putting up post it notes with out to name address and phone number, an anonymous verbal hi how are you with out declaring your full name and detail.

    Just because it is now in the digital world and governments or corporations are capable of invading everyone's privacy all of the time does not mean they should. I am a firm believer of the principle of trying out and making publicly accessible all the privacy invasive techniques upon the idiot perverts that want to implement it in the first place.

    So lets monitor all the activities of politicians and their families 24 hours a day, everything they say, write or communicate in any way shape or form to any other person or entity, after all, they all claim to be working in the public interest, so they surely have nothing to hide. After that we can invade 'er' monitor the activities of all law enforcement officers, after all, with the additional authority and power they have over the public, they should accept that the public be able to monitor the use of that power.

  • Re:VOTE PARENT UP! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmokedS ( 973779 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:36PM (#19637357)
    Indeed. With movements such as the one I assume you are referring to []: the UK is just a few steps away from protesting being redefined as terrorism in the Orwellian landscape of current political newspeak. The UK will be in dire straits indeed then. Protesters could be legally incarcerated or whisked away to other countries for a bit of friendly torture/reeducation.

    I think the basic problem is that people do not want to believe that their leaders could be capable of such acts. Somehow most people disengage their critical faculties when thinking about politics and politicians. On the one hand just about everyone is convinced that corruption is rampant. At the same time the very same people will instinctively insert a huge and powerful it_must_be_just_misguided_good_intentions filter when they observe the actions of politician:

    "I'm sure he means well. He truly believes that gradually taking away the freedom of the population will make us safe from terrorists."

    "It's to save the children that every single citizen must be spied upon!"

    "I'm sure they really thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."

    "I'm sure that the way they ignored all the sites with radioactive materials during the invasion, choosing to go straight for the oil, was an honest mistake. Too bad about the population drinking water from radioactive barrels freely pillaged from the areas that we said were our targets but we failed to care in the least about during the invasion."

    "I'm sure they really are planning to leave Iraq. Huge permanent bases? You must be mistaken. We went in to free Iraq, or was it disarm? Or to fight Al Quaeda? Or because they planned 9/11? Well anyway, one of those, it was for a good cause."

    How do you describe people that go out of their way to interpret reality in terms of misguided good intentions on the part of their leaders?

    Sheeple is a rather offensive term, but it sure does fit the bill nicely.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.