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The Electronic Bastille 267

Posted by timothy
from the panoptiquonnes dept.
smooth wombat writes "Imagine a database whose aim is to centralize and analyze data on people aged 13 or above who are active in politics or labor unions, who play a significant institutional, economic, social or religious role, or who are 'likely to breach public order.' At first glance one might think the country in question is Russia or Zimbabwe but the truth is, it's a democratic nation which is implementing this database. Specifically, France. Now, with the summer break over and as the people of France return to work, there is a small but growing movement to storm this electronic Bastille. Michel Pezet, a lawyer and former member of a body charged with protecting French citizens from electronic prying, had this to say about this new data-gathering law: 'The Edvige database has no place in a democracy. There is nothing in the decree that sets limits or a framework. Whether the database is used with or without moderation depends only on orders from up high. The electronic Bastille is upon us.'"
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The Electronic Bastille

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  • by jabithew (1340853) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:24AM (#24885349)

    I'd be shocked if other Western governments, or at least their security services, didn't do something similar. The CIA and MI5 have been known to do this sort of thing in the past, especially during WWII and the cold war. At least the French know about theirs.

    In Britain they can take and keep your DNA if you're suspected of a crime, even if you've been acquitted. Many suspect this is why there were so many accusations of breaches of public order at this year's Notting Hill; the Met wanted the DNA of black Londoners.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd be shocked if other Western governments, or at least their security services, didn't do something similar.

      Yeah but only in France are the DBA's going to the guillotine.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:41AM (#24885435) Journal
      What a lot of people suspect and what some anonymous sources acknowledge is that edvige is not something new, it is an old illegal and hidden practice that they are trying to make more transparent and legal. There has been a lot of reorganization in our intelligence agencies recently, akin to a merge between your CIA and FBI (Our president is a huge fan of all that Bush has ever made). I suspect this edvige file is a part of it. Probably a merge between two shadowy databases of the two agencies.

      Now, protests are two edged swords. If protests are too loud, this file will still exist, in a concealed way, if it is not loud enough, it will be abused. I'm going to the big protest in October but at least, I must admit that admitting the existence of this file was a very positive step.
      • by jabithew (1340853) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:57AM (#24885539)

        Not my CIA and FBI, I'm British. :p

        Interesting reply. It's nice to get this sort of thing out in the open, but the case of the British DNA database has left me feeling somewhat powerless in the grasp of an over-zealous-yet-strangely-ineffective police state (introduced by our country's socialists, I hasten to add, before people start trying to blame the right).

        • by pjt33 (739471) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:28AM (#24885669)

          introduced by our country's socialists, I hasten to add, before people start trying to blame the right

          Are you saying that the Lib Dems are the puppet-master which is really responsible for Labour's legislative output?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:31AM (#24885689)

          (introduced by our country's socialists, I hasten to add, before people start trying to blame the right)

          I wish New Labour would stop giving the left a bad name. Check the political compass [politicalcompass.org], Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are about as left wing as Margaret Thatcher.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jimicus (737525)

          an over-zealous-yet-strangely-ineffective police state (introduced by our country's socialists, I hasten to add, before people start trying to blame the right).

          It should be pointed out here for those who are not from the UK, that while the Labour party has historically been broadly socialist, their policies have been drifting to the right for some time and they haven't really been socialists for at least 15 years.

          • New Labour are an interesting (and scary) paradox: as you say, many of their policies are clearly traditional right-wing territory, yet they still raise taxes and hand out money like left-wing socialists. It's hard to imagine a worse combination.

        • by sm62704 (957197)

          Not my CIA and FBI, I'm British. :p

          Ah, yes, Mr. Bond, we know about MI5's friends across the pond.

      • by JCWDenton (851047) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:36AM (#24885705)
        A specific example of this happening in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org]

        COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert and often illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States. The FBI used covert operations from its inception; however the formal COINTELPRO operations took place between 1956 and 1971.[2] The FBI motivation at the time was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order." Targets included groups suspected of being subversive, such as communist and socialist organizations; people suspected of building a "coalition of militant black nationalist groups" ranging from the Black Panther Party and Republic of New Afrika, to "those in the non-violent civil rights movement," such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), and other civil rights groups; "White Hate Groups" including the Ku Klux Klan and National States' Rights Party; a broad range of organizations lumped together under the title "New Left" groups, including Students for a Democratic Society, the National Lawyers Guild, the Weathermen, almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, and even individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; and nationalist groups such as those "Seeking Independence for Puerto Rico."[3] The directives governing COINTELPRO were issued by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who ordered FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of these movements and their leaders.[4][5]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fred_A (10934)

        What a lot of people suspect and what some anonymous sources acknowledge is that edvige is not something new, it is an old illegal and hidden practice that they are trying to make more transparent and legal. [...] I'm going to the big protest in October but at least, I must admit that admitting the existence of this file was a very positive step.

        It does indeed seem that this is nothing more than the opening to a larger audience (of police forces) of the existing DCRI [wikipedia.org] (a mix of the two former intelligence agencies) database. This includes some rather detailed stuff on anyone who has had any kind of political / syndicate activity, etc.
        It's probably better if it's in the open but safeguards on its use would be very welcome as well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What a lot of people suspect and what some anonymous sources acknowledge is that edvige is not something new, it is an old illegal and hidden practice that they are trying to make more transparent and legal.

        The RG (Renseignements Généraux) database was neither illegal or hidden practice. Edvige is the old RG database + under 16 people + the right to record sexual orientation (why they need that?).

        The big problems with edvige are:
        - the records are potentially never deleted,
        - acces control (the database is available for consultation with minimal control to any police officer)
        When I was 16, the pastor of my parents inform my mother that there was a note about me at gendarmerie

      • The way I see it surveillance and universal identity databases etc are inevitable products of modern technology coupled with human nature. It isn't something we can just close the door on and expect the result to be that such things will simply go away.

        It seems more like a choice between acknowledging that we WILL be surveilled, and that there WILL be such databases or sticking our heads in the sand and denying it. Thus two potential situations can arise. Either the surveillance and data acquisition are sur

    • by vandan (151516) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:50AM (#24885509) Homepage

      This is already quite widespread. Here in Sydney, Australia, I talked to an ASIO officer who openly admitted he was 'gathering data on activists'. He was walking around at a demo, with a digital video player and a notebook & pen, and interviewing people ( not telling them who he was ). I've also seen evidence that this data was then used to target individuals.

      To those who mindlessly parrot the old "if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about", I have 2 responses ( well I have more, but 2 will do for now )

      1) The individuals targeted ( who were friends and comrades ) were violently attacked by riot police at a subsequent demonstration. They were arrested, roughed up, and released without charge. One was so shaken up by the experience that she pulled out of activism ( for 6 months anyway ).

      2) There's a difference between what's "wrong" and what's technically against the law. There are such things as bad laws. Here in Australia, we have some VERY bad laws. There are a group of a hundred or so builders who are facing losing their homes for not being able to pay fines imposed because they had the 'audacity' to protest over unsafe working conditions, and the high number of deaths in their industry. Sounds like a valid reason to be protesting to me ... but illegal.

      • by Maelwryth (982896) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:09AM (#24885587)
        I don't know if it is the same in Australia, but over here in N.Z. half our government is made up of ex-activists, including the prime minister.
        In short, our activists of today are our government of tomorrow.
        • by Yer Mum (570034)

          Most of Labour in the UK were activists too (CND, student union activists, Marxist groups, etc...).

          Personally I think it's the saying absolute power corrupts absolutely still holds, and databases linked to ID and surveillance technology and like give government at least an illusion of absolute power and, in time, possibly absolute power.

          Most public organisations from local, to national, to international (e.g. EU) are playing a game where one steps a little further down the road then waits for the rest to ca

        • by Da Fokka (94074)

          In the Netherlands an MP just had to resign because he was responsible for publishing the names and addresses of public servants of the ministry responsible for keeping track of potential locations of nuclear power stations. They were consequently threatened by left-wing activists.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          Question: is the New Zealand government a good or bad one in your opinion?

          I'm actually a bit lost as to what you're saying; are you suggesting all people in the government are bad? Or was it just a statement with nothing meant by it?

          Surely, wouldn't it make more sense to become a politician if you're an activist then?

          Anyway, direct democracy for the win!

        • So, you're in favour of attacks on activists then, since it reduces the number of politicians we have to worry about in the future?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by russotto (537200)

          In short, our activists of today are our government of tomorrow.

          Which simply leaves them in a better position to understand the weaknesses of the new activists, and crush them to prevent a repeat of history.

          That's why most forms of activism are no longer a viable means to change things -- the government has adapted to the tactics.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        Not all activists are the same though. If you look at the recent activists arrested before the RNC they were planning some serious shit -

        http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/09/02/anarchists_republican_convention.html [ajc.com]

        The affidavit paints a picture of a group that recruited participants from 67 cities and was intent on creating havoc.

        According to the document:

        * The RNC Welcoming Committee held two "pReNC" gatherings, one from Aug. 31 through Sept. 1, 2007, and another on May 3. At the first, 150 to 200 people - including one of the informants - talked about tactics to "shut down the RNC." At the second, St. Paul was divided into seven sectors for various anarchist groups to claim.

        * The affidavit also talked about an "action camp" held July 31 to Aug. 3 at Lake Geneva, Minn.

        * "An individual by the name of 'Henry' told the action camp group that he was throwing a liquid-filled balloon and that members of the group should stay away from the area ... because it would be very dangerous," the document said.

        * Another person talked about using large puppets to conceal and transport Molotov cocktails, bricks, caltrops (devices used to stop buses and other vehicles), shields and lockboxes, the affidavit said. They also planned to throw marbles under the horses of the mounted patrol to trip the horses.

        I like this bit

        On Tuesday, District Judge Kathleen Gearin denied an emergency motion brought by eight plaintiffs - including at least one of those arrested - to have some of the items seized by police returned to them.

        "Who should we return the urine to?" Gearin asked.

        In addition to buckets of urine, investigators seized homemade devices used to disable buses and other vehicles, weapons, gas masks, flammable liquids and rags that could be used to make Molotov cocktails, computer storage devices, documents, pamphlets and banners. Some materials, such as banners and signs, were returned Monday for demonstrators to use during the protest marches. Albert Goins Sr., attorney for the plaintiffs, said they are likely to file an emergency appeal to get the rest of it back.

        So the evil government did infiltrate the group and seized a bunch of stuff. But they gave back banners and signs. Then the group complained they needed the Molotov cocktails, balloons full of dangerous chemicals, bricks, caltrops, marbles and buckets of urine back

        • by Maelwryth (982896) on Friday September 05, 2008 @06:07AM (#24885823)
          Fella, I have just wasted 15mins of my life reading news articles trying to figure out whether there was any truth in what you were saying. None of the news stories agree with each other (including such gems as them being recruited from 67 cities (when there were 35 people)) and it turns out the afadavit [twincities.com] (pdf warning) is attached to the request for a search warrant and has nothing to do with what was actually found when the search warrant was actioned. All the shit that has been reported sounds wonderful, but most of it was never found when the houses were searched.

          I must regretfully conclude you believed this shit without ever researching it.

          If I am wrong, point it out. However,I would like documentation and citations please. Not random newspaper reports.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            This guy is the brother of Monica Bicking, one of the RNC 8

            http://mugshot.org/visit?post=yBnDZHTk35dZWx [mugshot.org]

            Violence?

            Reports have come out about violent protest. First, I want to talk about the facts related to this:

            Actual incidents are often exaggerated or fabricated. For instance, in the case of the home raids things like paint, bottles, and rags were labeled as "the ingredients for making Molotov cocktails". Iâ(TM)m sure every reader of this post has sufficient ingredients to make a Molotov cocktail. Also, many people have hatchets, bricks, and other materials. Buckets of urine were particularly attention-grabbing, but the only reason for these was that one of the houses had a broken toilet. The police interpretation of the confiscated material is not credible.

            There have also been reports of violence at the protests themselves. First it should be noted that there are no reports of police or bystanders being injured. I personally find it is hard to classify property damage as "violence". If you don't include property damage then there doesn't seem to be much evidence of violence.

            Protest is confrontational. Some will suggest that protesters should obey police in all situations. They suggest that protesters should obey all laws and only protest where permitted. They suggest protesters should not be disruptive of anyone else. The result would not be protest. In cases like the RNC, where extensive planning was in place to counter protest, non-confrontational protest means protesting according to someone elseâ(TM)s plans, someone who has no desire for the protest to succeed in any way. Once you confront the police, there will be violence â" usually by the police. And sure, you can stand with a flower in your hand and get a face full of pepper spray, and of course many people choose that course. Itâ(TM)s a noble choice, but I canâ(TM)t fault people for making other tactical decisions.

            Another protesting tactic is the "black bloq", typically a group of people who try to attract the attention of the police, often through property damage. If the police have nothing better to do, then why not pin down the peaceful protesters and direct them where they can make the least impact? People in the black bloq will try to keep this from happening. Itâ(TM)s unlikely they were at all successful at the RNC as it was so thoroughly militarized. You could debate whether this is a good strategy (and there is lots of debate about this), but probably few people outside activists have any idea that there even is any underlying strategy.

            Also, if you wonder why protesters, especially the anarchists, dress the way they do, it is primarily defensive. If you are going to get teargassed and peppersprayed does wearing a handkerchief seem so odd? And if they are tracking people to preemptively arrest, all the more reason to be as anonymous as possible.

            So he says the police did find buckets of urine and Molotov cocktail components but they were there for legitimate reasons. And he admits "black bloq" anarchists damage property, which is true.

            http://img70.imageshack.us/my.php?image=photo03ws9.jpg [imageshack.us]

            He denies that police were attacked

            http://img510.imageshack.us/my.php?image=photo07xh5.jpg [imageshack.us]
            http://img372.imageshack.us/my.php?image=photo06tb3.jpg [imageshack.us]

            or bystanders

            htt [imageshack.us]

        • by denzacar (181829)

          They also planned to throw marbles under the horses of the mounted patrol to trip the horses.

          I got to write this one down.

          Too bad nobody rides horses around here any more. Damn you civilization!

          • Too bad nobody rides horses around here any more. Damn you civilization!

            Well it may not be civilized, but here [pennlive.com] is an article describing the return of mounted police unit to Philadelphia, Pa. And here [wikipedia.org] is a broader list.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Ragzouken (943900)
          Well that's just taking the piss.
    • by dascritch (808772) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:08AM (#24885579) Homepage

      Except that in France, we have an established institution (ssince 1978) , the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés (Nat. Commission Coputers and Liberties, note the meaning plurial), that cannot be overruled by the State.

      In fact, it is more than probable that Edvige wouldn't be accepted in front of the State Council. Or the European Commission.

      • by Mornedhel (961946) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:20AM (#24885647)

        Well the CNIL is good and all, but they really have no power whatsoever in this case.

        The law from August 2004 (modifying the Loi Informatique et Libertés from 1978) states that public administrations and organisms will not need the CNIL's authorization anymore in order to create precisely such files. Private enterprises and such still need it.

        What's more, the 2004 law is an adaptation of a EU directive to the French LIL laws. So basically, I have no doubts it would be accepted by the EU Commission. It's up to us now...

        • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@nospAm.gdargaud.net> on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:55AM (#24885779) Homepage
          That's really too bad as the Loi Informatique et Liberte [wikipedia.org] (link in french) is a law meant against abusive data gathering from the state. In short, the original intent was that every entity (ministers, private companies, ...) can keep you in their files, but they are forbidden to correlate their files.

          You can have a tax number, a social security number, an ID card, a driver's license, etc, but those numbers cannot be mixed in a bigger database. That was the original intent anyway, and it did prevent a lot of abuse. It was a good law while it lasted. Sob.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      You Europeans are just beta testing it for U.S.

      The most interesting part of this is that this and other projects like it were begun before 9/11 and other large scale attacks.

      • The most interesting part of this is that this and other projects like it were begun before 9/11 and other large scale attacks.

        Did anyone ever seriously believe that 9/11 was anything more than a pretext for grabbing more power? They don't actually give a damn about the event, but it makes it convenient for them to satisfy their control lust.

  • If they were the US, they'd just license it from Google [tinyurl.com].

    (If they were the UK, they'd probably license it from Microsoft.)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:48AM (#24885483)

      Nah. In the UK we pay EDS an outrageous amount of money to fuck it up, then get something 10 years late and 20 times over budget.

      The only positive thing about UK ID card scheme is that the companies tasked with implementing the database couldn't organise a pissup in a brewery. If it was ever going to work I would be scared.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:53AM (#24886887) Journal

        Nah. In the UK we pay EDS an outrageous amount of money to fuck it up, then get something 10 years late and 20 times over budget.

        I strongly disagree with this. There is no evidence that EDS have ever managed to deliver a product, even 10 years late. They keep getting government contracts though, because they have lots of experience with government contracts. I'm still in two minds about this. On the one hand, I don't like to see the government wasting so much money. On the other hand, I don't like to see the government being too efficient. Personally, I'd like to see the EU establish a BuSab [wikipedia.org] to take care of this kind of thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by IDtheTarget (1055608)

      Actually, in the United States there are already private companies that gather all of this information and offer it for sale. I know this for a fact, as in my civilian job I work for a state law enforcement agency that purchases this product for criminal intelligence investigations.

      I can't remember the name of the service we use, and I'm in Iraq so I can't go down the hall to ask our any of our intelligence analysts what the software is, I just recall that they output information in a format that works wit

  • Sounds good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:50AM (#24885503)

    People who are "active in politics... play a significant institutional, economic, social or religious role... 'likely to breach public order.'"?

    So that would be a database of politicians, CEOs and cult leaders then? So long as this database is freely accessible to all on the net, it sounds like a great idea to me.

    • Re:Sounds good (Score:5, Informative)

      by w3c.org (1039484) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:09AM (#24885583) Homepage
      Well I doubt if it's the case. In my opinion, it'll be a growing database of youngsters living mainly in residencies, the 'jeunes des cités' that every journalist talk about on the news. It'll be accessible only to cops and immigration police. But it gets worse: teachers are asked, in schools, to 'help complete the database' by giving every information about every children (country of origin, parents' nationality, everything), to help prevent immigration and to help track the 'sans-papiers' (people who just immigrated in France ans don't already have IDs, or people who just have their IDs discarded).
  • by will_die (586523) on Friday September 05, 2008 @04:58AM (#24885541) Homepage
    In addition to the person who is concidered to possibly being a threat the database will contain all relatives and people who contact with the person except for in a one-time only type relationship.
    The information stored will contain "civil status and occupation; physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses; physical characteristics, photographs and behaviour; identity papers; car plate numbers; fiscal and patrimonial information; moves and legal history"
    • by kvezach (1199717)
      You know, there once was an organization that compiled this kind of extensive information. What was its name, you wonder? Das Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit [wikipedia.org].
    • by hey! (33014) on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:48AM (#24886309) Homepage Journal

      Various social critics in the tradition of Focault (Michel, not Leon) have been predicting this kind of thing for years.

      Starting more or less from first principles, they predicted that attempts to collect information on private individuals will tend to expand regardless of how useless or even counterproductive those efforts are. These kinds of things only stop growing when they get large enough to encounter some practical limitation. It might be budget, it might be technology, or it might even be people taking to the streets to protest.

  • by rpjs (126615) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:05AM (#24885569)

    For years now the UK has been leader in the "Western Nation Most Likely To Become A Police State" league, and the French just can't bear to be beaten by us at anything, so in one daring move they've grabbed the crown from us. Vive la France!

  • by ze_jua (910531) <jailh&free,fr> on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:09AM (#24885581)

    In fact, French police already had such files for decades (aka "le fichier des RG", the file of the inside information gathering service), but they were "secret", and it was impossible for people to know exactly what kind of information was recorded.

    Then, are files of this kind of files usefull or good for Democracies ... ? usefull maybe (You never watch The Experts or NCIS ? ;) . Good ? I dont know (1984, Equilibrium, ... what else ?)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Meumeu (848638)

      You never watch The Experts or NCIS ?

      For those in the rest of the world who wonder what Les Experts are, it's the french translation of CSI.

      • by Maelwryth (982896)
        "For those in the rest of the world who wonder what Les Experts are, it's the french translation of CSI."

        Damn!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)

      I do indeed watch NCIS, and as much as I enjoy the show, the way it glorifies both huge databases with everything you ever wanted to know about everybody but were afraid to ask, as well as agencies blatantly overstepping their jurisdictions, perform searches without warrants etc, bothers me quite a lot.

      It's fictional. I'm sure there's plenty of good people in law enforcement fighting the good fight and struggling against pesky regulations, but all it takes is one asshat abusing the information he has at his

      • It's fictional.

        Well, um, yes... but then again, no! I see it as propaganda which serves to show the people what can (could) be done. It says: don't count on privacy laws or due process, we'll get you anyway. Live in fear, don't even think of wrongdoing and pray you'll never come across that one asshat abusing the information.

        Repeat this over and over, show the reruns, and it'll sink in. And don't even get me started on 24, Sleeper Cell and the likes - the sheer amount of "terrorists are everywhere!" propaganda boggles t

        • And this, ladies and gentlemen, is another proof that human beings have the uncanny ability to look so hard for underlying meaning, they start seeing it where it doesn't actually exist.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FornaxChemica (968594)

      That's right, the RG (Renseignements Generaux) was a French intelligence agency which has been merged with the DST a couple of months ago. I guess they are reorganizing their agencies hence the revised database system.

      Quoting the French interior minister:

      Edvige will differ from the old RG file on two points only, "it will take into account underage individuals and be extended to sensitive data", such as sexual orientation.

      I doubt it's different from the methods use by other countries to track potential trou

    • by dascritch (808772)

      Note : "The Experts" is the translated name for "CSI".

  • Truth: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caliburngreywolf (1218464) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:15AM (#24885617)
    Public order is antithetical to democracy. Democracy can only be effective in a system where some social disorder is present.
    • Re:Truth: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jandersen (462034) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:47AM (#24886813)

      Public order is antithetical to democracy.

      That is manifestly untrue.

      What you mean is probably that public order is antithetical to freedom; which is still a rather dubious statement. Democracy is not some magical substance that guarantees freedom or anything else - it is only a form of government that allows part of the citizens a measure of influence on the government's decision making. It is perfectly possible to imagine a democratic society where everybody is happy and feels no need for unrest. Democracy was not introduced because it looked like a bloody good idea at the time - it was introduced because it was hoped that it would help solve the problems with unrest caused by the government not representing the people.

      • by raddan (519638)
        You're right, the OP misses an important component: culture. The practices and traditions that shape a culture will affect how those people respond to a particular governmental framework.

        For instance, compare the 18th century American revolution with the French one. Both produced roughly equivalent forms of government, but the French revolution was far more brutal, probably the result of people having long been oppressed and ruled by sometimes-incompetent monarchs. The American colonists, by contrast,
  • by matt4077 (581118) on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:16AM (#24885631) Homepage
    Sounds like wikipedia :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:23AM (#24885659)

    Dear World,

    Please stop giving our government these ideas.

    Thanks,

    USA

  • Thank God (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @05:56AM (#24885787)

    I live in the UK where we don't stand for this kind of nonsense.

    • We'd stand - and queue - for it, we just don't have any bureaucrats competent enough to actually implement it. We'll happily spend a few million pounds of taxpayers' money trying though. Then admit in ten years time that no one can understand the schema and that the information stored in the database is so mostly wrong. We'll then spend a bit more on a public enquiry to find out whose fault it was, and then ignore the results.
      • I think you'd better have another look at the costs of the national identity register - "a few million" isn't what you're talking about there.

  • Imagine a database whose aim is to centralize and analyze data on people aged 13 or above who are active in politics or labor unions, who play a significant institutional, economic, social or religious role, or who are 'likely to breach public order.'

    You mean like WalMart?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow France finally has facebook...good for them.

  • I'm surprised to see US and UK people make fun comments about the French over this. US and UK governments aren't exactly known for managing their own records on their citizens with much care either.

    The UK has lost, what, 400.000 personal records on it's citizens?

    The US has had terrorist lists made, leaked to the press, remade, leaked again..

    It's not like France is in this trade alone. Privacy is at stake in every country, including your own. Or what else do you think the War on Terror realy is, other than b

  • Just one more example, if we needed one as to how inept the UK government is at major IT projects. Yet again, when it comes to building anything on a grand scale we have to look to our cousins across the channel to get a clue. Our big brother database will be late, over budget and they will end up leaving their assassination list data in a toilet cubicle in Waterloo station.
  • I'm not as naive as to think that only France has one of these- one only has to go to the Red Scare to know that the US also puts these together (See also: Do Not Fly lists, Guantanimo Bay, FBI & St. Paul Police raids this past Monday.) I do wonder, however, how long these databases can be compiled before they become unwieldy. Eventually, nearly every database becomes too much of a spider web and needs to be redone.

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