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Invasive government

Have all the tedious government-related admin of your life automated
  (+6, -10)
(+6, -10)
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The current mood as regards government is that governments should wherever possible stay out of their citizens' pivate lives. I'd like to explore the possible benefits of a government which was highly knowledgeable of and involved in its citizens' private lives. The advantages would result from a large amount of cross-referencing between what are now separate government departments, together with automated linking to your finances and a web-based interface.

Example #1: Road tax is due on your car. The government knows that you still own the car and so sends you an email directing you to a secure web site where you can authorize the debit of funds from your bank account.

Example #2: You lose your job - the government already knows your level of savings, number of dependents, where you live, etc. (in fact, everything they need to automatically work out how much tax you owe) and so starts paying you (or not) social security payments.

Very 'Big Brother' and as far as I know only Singapore has gone anywhere down this road. Do you want to trade loss of data privacy for the advantges this may bring?

hippo, Jul 17 2000

Total Information Awareness http://www.google.c...&btnG=Google+Search
Hmm, Admiral Poindexter knows all about YOU! (if you're in the US). [hippo, Oct 04 2004]


       I'd like to see private companies / gov. interact with each other regarding "me", rather than the government controlling all.   

       For instance:   

       1) I get into a minor accident.   

       2) I send an note to my insurance company through my wireless-phone.   

       3) They send notes to: towing company, auto-repair shop, police.   

       4) The towing company interacts with the auto-repair shop.   

       5) The auto-repair shop interacts with the insurance company regarding estimates, etc.   

       6) The police interact with the insurance company regarding who was at fault.   

       7) I interact with the auto-repair shop to find out when my car will be ready.   

       Currently, I would have to make many phone calls, filling out many forms to get my car repaired.
eagle, Jul 17 2000

       Most of the people I work with would have a bad attack of the heebie-jeebies if you mention that it would be a good idea to share information. Sadly, government is about control not about help. The more information you give 'em, the more civil servants they'll employ to keep it hidden.
DrBob, Jul 21 2000

       I'll really never understand what people think they have to hide. Do I just lead a much more boring life than everyone else, or am I naive and not paranoid enough? Or both?
centauri, Jul 21 2000

       Centauri, I have exactly the same question as you have. My preliminary answer is that people like us have a more realistic view on how interesting we are to others. Let these paranoids keep the illusion that their lives are interesting. It's all they have.   

rrr, Jul 30 2000

       Governments have abused data collected for seemingly harmless purposes to capture and kill people. (The Rwanda Hutu/Tutsi conflict based on race records; the Holocaust; the US government incarcerating Japanese Americans.) Keeping these events in mind isn't paranoid, it's being aware of politics and history.   

       When it happens, the ones afflicted are powerless to stop it by political means. The only advance defense is in not allowing data to be collected and crossreferenced in the first place, and to use local storage whenever possible, and to not allow government agencies to crossreference each other.   

       Even if I have the most boring life on earth[%], I still have a vested interest in protecting people who are politically active, or don't quite have the right race or religion, and I don't want them to stand out against a wall of those abandoning their civil right to privacy, sticking out as the only ones who didn't step back.   

[%] Unless some major religion completely takes over the US, in which case I'll be quickly branded as a deviant and will become a hunted fugitive.
jutta, Jul 31 2000, last modified Aug 01 2000

       What do you mean "unless"? It would be inconceivable for a non-Christian or even a non-practising Christian to be elected US President. :-)

I see your point about it being valuable to protect those people who a repressive government might have a motive to investigate. On the other hand, if you have ever paid taxes or applied for a passport the government has reams of information on you...
hippo, Jul 31 2000

       This kind of reminds me of Communism, you Commie bastard
AfroAssault, Sep 14 2000

       To eagle: If you happen to own an American car, there's a good chance it already has a black box in it. You're well on your way to having that sort of system. Of course, the manufacturers claim they would never divulge the information the box collects to police or insurance companies. They're just looking out for our safety.
Jadu, Nov 27 2000

       Why not take hippo's original idea one step further: In example 1, you have to authorize the transaction... why bother? If the government knows a payment is due, they should just take the money from you. No need to authorize it, or write a check or anything. In fact, since the government knows what's best for you, and knows everything about you, it should be in charge of all your purchases. If you want something, you don't buy it, you submit a request to the Federal Bureau of Consumer Purchases. The FBCP would then review your financial situation to see if you could afford the item, review a list of your posessions to be sure you didn't already own the item, and decide whether or not the item was good for you. If everything checks out ok, they transfer the money from your account and have the item shipped to you.   

       They could even keep track of how much food you last purchased, estimate how long it would take to go through it (by using calculations based on number of people in your household, and each person's age, weight, and metabolism) and then send you more food when you needed it (withdrawing the money from your bank account of course). No need to grocery shop ever again. Also, the government could then insure that you got only foods that they deem healthy.
PotatoStew, Nov 27 2000

       Assuming that we don't want all information to be collected (by the gov't or by private concerns, since the latter are as vulnerable to being taken over by evil forces ) -   

       There's still merit in the idea that *some* of the interactions involving our data should be made more efficient, to save our valuable taxes and our even more valuable time. Which? Which categories of large-organization action can't preserve our anonymity? They might as well be efficient.   

       hippo's example #1 doesn't seem to limit my freedom or safety at all, given that I think cars should be licensed and taxed - it's just a case of the gov't having another address for me - a less scary one than my street address! - and a Website. (My county has a Website; but I can't pay through it, I have to mail them the money or take it to a license agent; they mail me a paper bill.) I see no loss and some gain in hippo's idea.
hello_c, Nov 27 2000

       Perhaps, as [hello_c] suggests, there's a need to make a distinction between those areas of your life that 'Invasive Government' should touch and those it shouldn't.
There is a set of interactions between you and your government in which information and money change hands (registering a car, paying taxes, etc.). All I'm saying is that for those interactions, the government should have the information by default. Manual intervention to approve the veracity of the information and authorise funds transfer would still be needed.
hippo, Dec 20 2000

       How about a global network of city-states, each run according to a different political/economic model, and the only consistant thing is that if you want to leave a given city state and can find another one that will take you, you are guaranteed the right to go there, no matter what. Also the right to peaceably transit through the city-states inbetween?   

       That way, you can live in your nanny state, and I can live like an adult and be left alone, and everyone will be happy.
f1r3br4nd, Feb 23 2005

       RRR and Centauri, I agree as I have said many times to several people that seem a little paranoid. Seriously, if you do not break the law there is no need for secrecy for any details of your life.   

       Jutta, your answer puzzles me. You are either subversive or you live in a country with a criminal government. (I sometimes have problems getting my thoughts across in english, with subversive I do not mean to insult you. I mean that you may do a lot of things that are not approved of by the majority of your community but they have no way of severly punishing you under the present laws, but they would like to because they are narrowminded and full of supressed rage, you know the type) Or you might be gay and fear that being frowned upon by the narrowminded changes in being hit upon. Or something like that.   

       But really (I live in the Netherlands) in this day and age these fears are obsolete are they not? At least in my country. I really mean this and I am proud of it to. I believe politics is a load of bull@@@@ but I try to vote according to my personal belief(if there is a party that shares it) and if other parties get more votes than mine, still they will not be able to seriously hurt anyone ever over a difference of belief or behaviour(as long as it does not involve hurting other people)   

       I do realise that in my country abortion is legal, softdrugs are legal, same sex marriages are legal, you may express any political view as long as you do not bring the nazi salute( for which you can get fined)   

       Also I realise that in the USA ( for example) these things are not so well regulated. People may say the holocaust never happened without getting fined, and all of the above mentioned points are problemarea's.   

       So maybe in the states I to would be reluctant to give details of my life to the government. The US-government is frequently laughed at by european intelligentsia (dutch word but you get the meaning). We pity US citizens to be so badly governed.   

       But then again, recently the US government demanded that anybody who travels there from europe on an airplane must give their name and number so it can be checked out before you enter the US. Checked out really good with all the relevant secret services in europe and police and interpol(which is not secret but nobody knows what they do so they might as well be). Many people got angry at this demand because they did not want the US government to have acces to this sort of information. Again, if you are just a tourist, where's the harm?   

       I'll stop now or I'll just keep going.
zeno, Feb 24 2005

       I allmost forgot: The fishbowl moves!
zeno, Feb 24 2005

       Yes [jutta], you sound quite subversive. Don't be alarmed by the agents that are entering your home. These agents are just going to take you to our re-education camps where you will learn how to be a good, happy consumer like our friend [zeno].
Worldgineer, Feb 24 2005

       ah, my most unpopular idea lurches back into the recent list...
hippo, Feb 24 2005

       Indeed -and very topical too.   

       I watched the Prime Minister's questions (UK, by the way) yesterday (Feb 23rd) and was very disappointed with the opposition to the afternoon's bill on 'control orders'. Essentially they involve the possibility where an elected official (Home Secretary) can order the detainment of a person without trial. This judgement is then supposed to be examined within 7 days be a judge of law.   

       So much for the "innocent until proven guilty" principal. In my minds eye is frighteningly close to perverting the inscriptions on the side of the barn.
Jinbish, Feb 24 2005

       //an elected official (Home Secretary)//
Strictly, an official appointed by the Prime Minister from a group of popularly-elected representatives. No-one voted for Charles Clarke to be Home Secretary (because, you know, who would?).
angel, Feb 24 2005

       The Home Secretary doesn't have to be an elected official at all. The Prime Minister can appoint whoever he please to the post, including himself.

The problem with this idea is that it views government as some disinterested machine which only has the well-being of it's citizens at heart, whereas the reality is that government is an organisational device invented and run by people who are interested primarily in gaining power over other people and holding on to that power.

The reality is that it is all too easy for politicians in positions of power to misuse such a resource. Knowledge is power and once you are 'registered' you are reliant on the goodwill of the government and it's officials not to make your life a misery.

You may say that that is a bit of a paranoid attitude to take (perhaps it is) but I would recommend a walk around the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam if you want to see how the Nazi's gradually took control of the country. Bit by bit, innocuous admin regulation by regulation until everyone was noted, logged, profiled and then, eventually, rounded up.

I'd rather be paranoid and be thought silly than be naive and end up in a prison camp.
DrBob, Feb 24 2005

       Share and enjoy!
zeno, Feb 24 2005


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