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The Social Laboratory

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the playing-with-a-nation's-psyche dept.

Government 79

An anonymous reader writes: We often worry about technology and unscrupulous intelligence agencies driving us toward a surveillance state. But apparently Singapore already beat us to the punch. "Not only does the government keep a close eye on what its citizens write and say publicly, but it also has the legal authority to monitor all manner of electronic communications, including phone calls, under several domestic security laws aimed at preventing terrorism, prosecuting drug dealing, and blocking the printing of 'undesirable' material." They've used it to do good, like swiftly moving to contain the spread of infectious diseases and to figure out how the public wants policy problems solved. But they've also obliterated privacy and restricted what people can say and do. "Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the "social contract" between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care." The article notes, "It's hard to know whether the low crime rates and adherence to the rule of law are more a result of pervasive surveillance or Singaporeans' unspoken agreement that they mustn't turn on one another, lest the tiny island come apart at the seams."

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Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about a month and a half ago | (#47592987)

Thank you for obeying!

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (3, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593095)

Thank you for obeying!

You don't understand Singapore. I know it sounds quite bizarre to a Westerner, but the citizens of Singapore *want* this. This is what they actually value; the common perspective differs, in that they feel that the needs of the society of the whole are greater than those of the individual. This level of control isn't something that they're obeying...it's something that they're desiring, facilitating, embracing. And while I'm with you in my preference of a more Western form of social balance, it's also hard to argue that Singapore is actually a bad place to live or be.

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593233)

> I know it sounds quite bizarre to a Westerner, but the citizens of Singapore *want* this.

(1) How strongly do they want it? How much of it is just inertia and how much of it is something they would still be OK with even if they ended up being persecuted by the system? It is easy to be OK with government policies as long as they aren't directly hurting you.

(2) In the US a majority of the flying public like the TSA. [forbes.com]

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (1)

russotto (537200) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593261)

Of course all Singaporeans want their all-seeing government; any who don't are subject to sanction by said government.

Actually, I just wish this were true. In fact, I think the only reasons more Americans don't want such a government is we've had no experience with a government actually interested in and competent at such paternalism; when our government decides to abrogate our rights it typically manages to get in the abuses without any of the purported benefits. Despite that many Americans STILL want an all-powerful all-loving state.

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593633)

You don't understand Singapore either, or for that matter people in general, since you claim that 'they', all 3+ million of us (5+ if you include not just citizens, but also permanent residents and foreigners), *want* and value this, that such control is what we desire, facilitate and embrace.

The article, which claims our 'paternalistic government ensures people's basic needs -- housing, education, security -- in return for almost reverential deference.', doesn't understand Singapore either. I would not call what I received from our schools 'basic education'. And if you're also a Singaporean, from the unfounded generalizations in your comment, and your assumption that grandparent has a 'preference of a more Western form of social balance' (whatever that means), I doubt you've received what could be regarded as a basic education either.

*Some* people want this, to give up privacy and certain freedoms and accord authority and powers to a small group of people, in the belief that this will make their lives and the lives of those they care about better. They are not homogeneous, they have different opinions about which freedoms and information are sacrosanct and which can be given up, and what powers should be given to which group of people to do the monitoring and policing.

Some people don't want this, they believe that no one else has any business poking noses into their lives. They are not homogeneous either.

Some people also don't care about all this. They may not understand the implications, and/or want to be bothered by it.

None of this is unique to Singapore. It describes any large group of people anywhere. But what is unique to Singapore is that a very small group of people have stayed in the very large majority of power for a very long time, larger than vote ratios: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] The ultimate aims of information gathering and our government may not be, as the article suggests, preventing terrorism and 'engineering' social harmony (though these may be secondary aims).

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593845)

Same Anon Coward here. I wasn't fair to the article, I saw the banner and thought that was the end, but there's much more after that. It misrepresents education and housing (the 'fashionable, multiroom apartments in high-rise buildings' are only a fraction of public housing), but it's essentially right (and detailed) about a lot of other going-ons here.

And my captcha is 'govern'. Hah!

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595855)

But what is unique to Singapore is that a very small group of people have stayed in the very large majority of power for a very long time,

Part of the success of the Singaporean government is to do a very good job for a long time. Economic growth, low crime, etc. There's no real motivation to change things when the king is doing a good job, especially when whoever replaces will be most likely worse

Remember, America would have remained a colony if King George hadn't made many very bad policy moves, which made Americans feel like it would be better to sever ties than keep suffering under a foolish king.

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (2)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594115)

Everyone I've known from Singapore has been very clear about this: they did not "consciously choose" to surrender civil liberties. They were never given any choice in the matter. They were very unhappy about the lack of civil liberties there and wanted it to change.

Perhaps the people I've known were not representative of Singapore in general. But even so, it's manifestly absurd to claim they consciously chose something they have never been given any choice about and have no power to change.

Re: Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47595069)

"From Singapore" - means the ones you met didn't like it there and left. Selection bias. And it's bullshit that they didn't have a choice. What the fall of the Berlin Wall teaches us is that every nation is, at the most basic level, a democracy. The majority of Singaporeans prefer the government they have, or they would go into the streets and change it.

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595235)

..or they've just been conditioned over several generations to submit. They've got their clean, orderly streets, and the only reason there are no tanks patrolling them is because they aren't needed.

We call this mental state 'stockholm syndrome'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595243)

I suppose 'helsinki syndrome' also applies.

Just sayin'! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47597617)

The Singaporean government has a much better reputation for governance than western governments. They hire the best out of school and recruit them for the civil service. They also make people move back and forth between civil service and private sector to get promotion. They have sometimes come down too harshly on opposition which is a shame, but over all they seem to govern very well. Singapore is a meritocracy. The problem is western government is not so its the civil service attracts an entirely different kind of citizen: the fat, lazy and corrupt. This is why Singaporean government soars while the west chokes on its own vomit.

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47598023)

I know it sounds quite bizarre to a Westerner, but the citizens of Singapore *want* this.

And how did you come to know this? Let me see - did one of them tell you? Maybe one of them wrote you a message saying that?

*rolls eyes*

Re:Welcome to the Privacy Free Zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47598985)

If they are restricted to speak their thoughts, how would we even know what they desire.

Zombie zones (3, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593113)

Disclaimer: I do have business in Singapore and I do spend some time in Singapore every year

As my business is largely in the East Asian region, I do travel from country to country and have a lot of contacts with people of different countries in that region

My exposure to the people from the different countries tells me one thing --- social construct is indeed a very VERY crucial factor in shaping the behavior of the people

In Korea, for example, their rigid society have shaped the Koreans into teams of robots who are more than willing work to death for the Chaebol

While in Japanese the society seems to be acting like a patient with bipolar disorder --- The same school student who does a 90-degree bow to the teachers in school during weekdays often become something totally different during weekends

In China you can sense the rebellious spirit everywhere and in everyone. While the society is still rather conservative the same society accepts homosexuality, even same-sex marriage, with ease

In Singapore, however, due to the "Father Knows Best" government which has taken care of almost everything for its citizens, many Singaporeans (I mean, the home bred Singaporeans, not those imported ones) have turned into something not very different from zombies --- they lack the zeal for doing anything, have no interest in learning nor put any effort in coming out with anything that is creative

I am no social scientist, of course. The above are based on my own observation, and of course, I could be wrong

Re:Zombie zones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593189)

I dont particularly disagree with what you said, but what do you call Americans who are so swept up by religion that they act like robots? Evolution? must be bad, Jesus told me so.

trust fund kids that put on airs of being respectable but at weekend parties do drugs, sex, etc.

Or those "leechers" repugnants are afraid of, who "lack the zeal to do anything" except leeching off of welfare.

I think generalizations are easy to do for anyone. I bet a lot of foreign visitors have similar stereotypes of Americans.

I bet Asian countries similarly have multiple threads and patterns of behavior that can't easily be generalized into one "type"

Re:Zombie zones (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593829)

In Singapore, however, due to the "Father Knows Best" government which has taken care of almost everything for its citizens, many Singaporeans (I mean, the home bred Singaporeans, not those imported ones) have turned into something not very different from zombies --- they lack the zeal for doing anything, have no interest in learning nor put any effort in coming out with anything that is creative

I'm not at all surprised. That's about how people act when they're living in oppressive conditions, knowing that it's not a matter of 'if', but of 'when' they slip up, say or do something the government considers 'undesirable', and they're scooped up and hauled away to some form of incarceration or other, their lives (and maybe their families' lives, too?) ruined. As I said in my own comment: You can't legislate and mandate morality.

Why is Mozilla making themselves irrelevant today? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593197)

With privacy and online freedom becoming more and more of an issue every day, one would think that Mozilla should have an ever-expanding role in today's world.

Just look at the Mozilla Manifesto [mozilla.org] . It includes statements like:

"The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible."

"Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional."

"Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability and trust."

So when facing corporations and governments who seek to crush privacy, limit freedom and promote opaqueness, people who are concerned about such things should be flocking to Mozilla and products like their Firefox web browser.

But what do we actually see? Well like a Slashdot submission from earlier today showed, people are fleeing Firefox for Chrome and even IE [arstechnica.com] ! Firefox now has under a 13% share of the market. Even Safari, which runs on a very limited number of very expensive platforms, is more widely used than Firefox!

It's obvious why this is happening: Mozilla has gone absolutely fucking stupid with Firefox's UI the past several years. They've taken the usable UI that Firefox 3.5 had, and progressively turned it into a god-awful, half-arsed clone of Chrome. What's worse is that Firefox users have repeatedly told Mozilla that these changes are horrible and that they're unwanted, yet these users have been totally ignored.

After having shitty UI changes forced on them one release after another, without end, these users have had enough and have moved to other browsers. If Firefox is going to deliver us a broken UI that looks just like Chrome's, but Firefox is going to run slower and use more memory than Chrome, then we might as well just use Chrome! A half-shitty experience is better than a fully-shitty experience.

Now that Mozilla has driven away so many of the former Firefox users, they've become pretty much irrelevant these days. None of Mozilla's competitors need to listen to them now, none of Mozilla's competitors need to implement anything Mozilla designs, and none of Mozilla's competitors need to care what Mozilla's Firefox users think (since there are, in practice, almost none of them now)!

Mozilla just can't fight for privacy, transparency, security, freedom, and an open Internet when they have no voice, and when they have no influence, and when they have no real power to compel anybody else to do anything.

Whatever good they might have been able to do to help promote a better social environment has been lost. Thanks to some obviously stupid UI redesigns and then showing nothing but total contempt for their users, Mozilla simultaneously managed to drive away most of these users, which has also essentially eliminated their ability to have any influence at all. It's quite sad, really.

Common good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47592995)

So a normal democracy would result in Singapore stopping to exist?

Singapore has existed without a surveillance society since 1965.

a viable model for society (1)

jaeztheangel (2644535) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593011)

but is it healthy long term?

aren't social contracts supposed to be voluntary? At least at some level?

Re:a viable model for society (3, Insightful)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593023)

Not really, no. Your social contract gets signed by someone else the minute you are born. Ultimately it's based on the coercive power of the State and its ability to do violence to you. On the other hand it is willing to do violence to others on your behalf. That is the other side of the contract.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

CRCulver (715279) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593155)

Not really, no. Your social contract gets signed by someone else the minute you are born.

The state issues you a passport, and when you turn 18, you can leave for any other country if you don't accept the terms that your country of birth is offering you. That may not be an option for people for repressive states that require exit visas, but it's certainly an option for anyone born in the United States, so the "social contract" idea seems to hold.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593499)

... and to which free state shall we go?

Because I can't think of any. Some are better on this axis but worse on that axis. Some are just plain worse.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47595155)

I hear Somalia is nice this time of year.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47600485)

Somalia is not a free state. It is a collection of fiefs who's lords are in open rebellion against the king and opportunistically at war with other lords. Only a moron would think there is some useful comparison between a collapsed feudal society and a society that values individual liberties.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593691)

False, becoming an imigration criminal in another country can result in imprisonment and deportation back to the US. Think harder.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594661)

There are plenty of countries where a US citizen can arrive with his passport and easily transition to residency within a few months.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47595193)

There are plenty of countries where a person can arrive and easily transition to residency within a few months if they have loads of cash.

FTFY. It's not exclusive to US citizens. Quick immigration is exclusive to those with money to burn.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595267)

The minimum amount of cash to settle in most EU countries is around 8000€. You just need to show a bank balance with that account as part of proving you can support yourself for a time, and lots of people rely on friends or relatives to fake it by depositing the money long enough to print out a bank statement and then returning the money.

Europe is full of young Americans who came as backpackers on a summer trip and then decided they liked it enough to stay (I myself did something like that years ago). While massive wealth and investing a certain amount in the respective country may allow you to skip straight to permanent residency or even citizenship, it's certainly not a prerequisite to getting an initial residency permit and starting a life here.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595435)

The minimum amount of cash to settle in most EU countries is around 8000€. You just need to show a bank balance with that account as part of proving you can support yourself for a time, and lots of people rely on friends or relatives to fake it by depositing the money long enough to print out a bank statement and then returning the money.

Europe is full of young Americans who came as backpackers on a summer trip and then decided they liked it enough to stay (I myself did something like that years ago). While massive wealth and investing a certain amount in the respective country may allow you to skip straight to permanent residency or even citizenship, it's certainly not a prerequisite to getting an initial residency permit and starting a life here.

I have to call BS on this one, sorry bub...but you live in a dreamland - unless you have sources that proves it's that easy for ex. an American to migrate to EU countries, I know a bit about it (because I'm an EU citizen of Scandinavia, and we have Americans who try REAL hard to emigrate to one of the worlds RICHEST countries, Norway, Denmark or Sweden. And albeit we absolutely ADORE Americans over here, it's hell on earth for them to even get a permit to work and stay here for a while. Same thing applies for Scandinavians if they want to migrate to America, not easy at all (believe me, I've tried numerous times and know the immigration law on the back of my hand by now, in fact...I could probably do as a part time immigration lawyer by now, it is THAT depressive. Mobilization is a wet ...but non existent dream).

I can give you a few examples, if you're a student...you CAN come to Scandinavia and study, heck...we'll even pay for your tuition and most of what you need, what you can't have from us you can get in grants provided that you qualify for them. But that doesn't guarantee you a job OR a PERMANENT relocation to our countries (albeit we'd LOVE to have those nice hard working Americans here, your work ethics ROCK!).

If you want to stay here permanently, you'll actually only have to learn the American Immigration Law, because we have EXACTLY the same laws as you have, albeit the visas are named differently, we have WORK visas just like you, we have immigration visas for asylum seekers (war torn countries etc.)...again...exactly like you. We even have BUSINESS visas exactly like you have, and you can get married to a Scandinvian citizen and get naturalization that way...exactly the same way as we could with YOU in America, however - it's a LONG and HORRIBLE process with suspicious government looking down on you every step of the way, costing you THOUSANDS of dollars in processing fees (EXACTLY THE SAME WAY YOUR COUNTRY DOES WITH US)...man...you could almost be driven to believe we've copied your entire immigration system, but yeah...it's actually quite true. Look it up.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595569)

There are not the same visas for every country. Romania, for example, offers a one-year visa to any visitor who claims that his activity during that time will not violate any laws. Americans are still considered somewhat cute here, so if you show enthusiasm for the country, you get it. One year is then more than enough time to befriend a local business owner who is willing to jump through the hoops of hiring a foreigner and get you a long-term permit, or falling in love with a local.

Perhaps Norway, Sweden and Denmark are more suspicious, but in my years in Finland I never saw Americans being hassled when wanting to settle down there. In Helsinki I know a number of Americans who came on holiday, enjoyed it, and managed to hang around long enough on temporary permits to transition to a permanent one. The greatest challenge in Finland was not getting permission to settle, it was finding decent employment when one's command of the language was still shaky.

Americans are immensely privileged when wanting to make a life in Europe. I and others settled down here with great ease compared to people from other countries (I know a fair few Latin Americans who have done the same but had to expend much greater effort).

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47597807)

If avoiding state snooping, Scandinavia is generally a bad choice.
They are further on the slippery slope towards Singapore than most other places.

For instance, in Sweden, there is no such concept as privacy (from the state). The discussion is all about "personal integrity" which sortof means "your neighbours ability to get your information".

Re:a viable model for society (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a month and a half ago | (#47598635)

They are but there's a quota in the other direction for Green Cards and it gets almost completely filled from the UK mostly by bankers (I assume). Yet the US lets in millions of Mexicans who's first act on arrival is to break the law (immigration law in this case).

Forgive me but it's really quite unfair, especially if like me you want to go and live and work in the US though I admit, not at a fast food joint.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594369)

Having a passport is not the "social contract". Indeed "passports" are a relatively new, 20th century concept. The contract I'm talking about goes back more than a thousand years to the feudal system and probably several thousand years before that. Very little has changed since then.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47594051)

A social contract may also be based on the ability of the people to do violence to the State, instead of only the opposite. A homogeneous population can create its own social contracts with peer pressure, fairness and utilization of the mass media, while the thought of violence stays far in the marginal as a reminder of the breaking of the contract. Hence, the fourth pillar of the State is a fitting characterization for the media. Singapore is definitely not a culturally homogeneous population with five large religions side-by-side and four official languages.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47598005)

note also that Singapore has the death penalty; incredibly, Singapore has event sent people to the gallows for attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

gsslay (807818) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593039)

It must be wonderful though, to have so much trust in your Government not to abuse the privileges granted them.

Or are Singaporeans all naive idealists getting taken for a ride?

Re:a viable model for society (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593353)

No, the Singaporeans in charge are fabulously wealthy, and pass whatever laws they can to stifle dissent, or to thwart any movement that might lead to a change in the status quo.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593131)

aren't social contracts supposed to be voluntary?

Yes. But voluntary at what level? In some societies, we value individual's rights above those of the collective. Each person makes their own choices. In others, things are done by consensus. What the majority wants, each member goes along with.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

russotto (537200) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593213)

The whole concept of a "social concept" is ludicrous. The terms are set by one party, who also administers the contract, judges violations of the contract, and reserves the right to alter the contract at any time.

Re:a viable model for society (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593513)

It looks to me just like the multinational where I work and spend ever longer hours in a daily basis
The thing with Global corporations is that National laws get bypassed by their "supranational" status and those laws they had to adhere get pressured out by legal teams, government payouts and employee misinformation
In the mean time unions get discredited by payouts, misinformation, propaganda and corruption whenever possible
As you go through your employment doors. your democratic rights goes through your office window, any rights you may have are at the "company discretion"
Sadly that state of things is being pushed more and more outside the working environment where your company rules apply outside the working environment and hours and with corporations manipulating national laws and governments without no democratic accountability whatsoever and setting themselves above their own laws as well as national laws when ever they feel like it

 

Re:a viable model for society (1)

jaeztheangel (2644535) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594863)

and tells you what a contract 'is'.

Re:a viable model for society (1)

Orestesx (629343) | about a month and a half ago | (#47601023)

The term social contract is a bit disingenuous, I grant you, but the alternative is a revolution every generation. If Thomas Jefferson and James Madison couldn't come up with a better solution, we should be willing to accept the concept in the absence of any viable alternatives.

Re:a viable model for society (2)

russotto (537200) | about a month and a half ago | (#47604585)

IIRC Jefferson was a bit of a firebrand and thought a revolution every generation _was_ a good idea. Of course that's when he was young.

Either way I refuse to call it a "social contract" when it's really just "might makes right"; the basis of its legitimacy is force, not consent.

Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (4, Interesting)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593019)

I'm pretty sure it's not necessary to surrender fundamental liberties to get those.

But all this proves is that people too easily ignore history. Hundreds of millions of people abused throughout history by corrupt governments, and yet you want to give them the power to monitor people's communications? I'm sure your government, unlike all the other ones that came before it, is full of perfectly innocent little angels that will never abuse their powers or make mistakes. Furthermore, I'm sure your government will *always* be like that. So you can not only trust the people currently in your government, but every single person who will ever work for it. Yeah...

And it's not like privacy is a basic human need or anything.

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593061)

I'm pretty sure it's not necessary to surrender fundamental liberties to get those.

It is necessary to get the kind of education, housing, and healthcare that the writer means. He's talking about state-provided education and healthcare, and state intervention in the free housing market. That means that the state has taken away people's right to the fruit of their own labor, putting a gun to their heads and extracting their hard-earned money in the form of taxes. The Founding Fathers believed that people are endowed by their Creator to a fundamental freedom from wealth-distribution schemes.

Re: Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47599809)

Do you have any evidence that the Founding Fathers were against taxation? It seems a bit odd that they didn't ban it when they wrote the Constitution. Or is this just another libertarian fantasy?

Look to the North and South of Singapore (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593141)

Hundreds of millions of people abused throughout history by corrupt governments, and yet you want to give them the power to monitor people's communications?

One important factor why Singaporeans agree to give up their own privacy in exchange for "easy life" is the country just north of the Singapore Strait

And another country is the one South of Singapore

Those two countries are the epitome of corruption, cronyism, and racism, and of course, the Singaporean government takes full advantage of what happens up north and down south and warn its citizenry of the danger of turning Singapore into just like them

Re:Look to the North and South of Singapore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593301)

You mean Malaysia where the natives are guaranteed preferences over others? Is that not true of all nations save the Anglosphere?

Re:Look to the North and South of Singapore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593443)

Is that not true of all nations save the Anglosphere?

No. Some countries it's even the reverse, where you can get away with murder if you're from a poor culturally backward imported minority, with free money thrown into the deal to "improve your chances" and whatnot, where it's the natives that're supposed to pay for it all out of "solidarity".

That's a north-western European country I'm talking about, though not the UK nor Ireland.

Re:Look to the North and South of Singapore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47596345)

France?

Re: Look to the North and South of Singapore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47600029)

Northern Ireland?

Re:Look to the North and South of Singapore (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a month and a half ago | (#47607163)

One important factor why Singaporeans agree to give up their own privacy in exchange for "easy life" is the country just north of the Singapore Strait

And another country is the one South of Singapore

Those two countries are the epitome of corruption, cronyism, and racism, and of course, the Singaporean government takes full advantage of what happens up north and down south and warn its citizenry of the danger of turning Singapore into just like them

And they also point out the ills of the "western world" too - US-bashing is quite easy, and not stuff about Snowden or other crap. No, they just have to point out the stuff like drug use (Singapore - summary execution for drug smugglers), societal decay, ghettos, crime, gun violence, etc. (Gun violence - since guns are illegal, well, again, it's close to summary execution).

Basically they point to how Singapore is a paradise - low crime, lots of prosperity, social housing (because living on an island which is only 40x20km in size means land is a premium), little traffic (thanks to traffic congestion control ensuring buying cars is hard), good mass transit, healthcare, cleanliness, etc.

Of course, one also notes that media is censored, including the Internet (the Great Firewall of China is NOTHING compared to the fact that practically every Asian country is doing their own filtering. China's just happens to be the most well known).

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593243)

Is privacy a basic human need in the US? At least in Singapore they are getting what they ostensibly want. What does that say for Americans?

We are all for liberty and freedom but in the end we are approaching the same thing they have over there.

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (2)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593275)

We are all for liberty and freedom

Who is "we"? There are so many people (I'd say most) in the US who are ignorant of history and would gladly trade freedom for security (both real and fake). Those people merely *claim* to want liberty, freedom, and sometimes small government, but in reality they want anything but.

re: All for liberty and freedom (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593899)

Unfortunately, yes.... this is SO true. I blame some of this on the 2 party political system we've got in America. Although yes, you have a number of other party platforms out there that candidates can choose to run on, they're largely irrelevant. Everyone knows that if you want a real chance at getting elected, you have to run as either a Democrat or a Republican. If you join one of those parties but clearly have an agenda that's very far outside the parameters they've set - again, you won't make it very far.

Every so often, an exception happens, but most of the time when you see an independent candidate get elected to some office, it's because it's an uncontested position or the competition is so widely viewed as corrupt and incompetent, they win by virtue of being a different option available on the ticket.

The 2 major parties have no intentions of giving the people too much liberty or personal freedom, and neither one will ever decide that small government is better for the country! Their candidates are too hung up with delusions of making the nation stronger and better through some new/additional government organization, legislation, cabinet or office they can CREATE while in power.

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

matbury (3458347) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593493)

Agreed. There are other states that adopted or have adopted pervasive, warrantless surveillance on its people; pre-1989 East Germany (Stasi), North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and now the "five eyes" (USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). What's not to like about it?

BTW, what has pervasive, warrantless surveillance got to do with education, affordable housing, and healthcare?

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594629)

If the the populace rebels, or votes for more liberal (in the "freedom" sense, not in the American politics sense) policies, they will get no education, no affordable housing, and no healthcare. Surveillance enables the government to quell such dissent. There, that's the connection.

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

matbury (3458347) | about a month ago | (#47678311)

From what I understand, when populations are more politically engaged, i.e. in more liberal and democratic societies, they tend to vote for more workers' rights, better education, and universal, comprehensive healthcare. Those are the things that make their lives more enjoyable and societies more prosperous and stable as a result. The loudest voices calling for small government in the US are funded by the billionnaire Plutocrats like the Koch brothers. If you look at what the public say in opinion polls, it paints quite a different picture to what we get on corporate media. Currently, nobody's offering the public the choices that they want so how can they vote for them? Is that democracy?

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

towermac (752159) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593575)

One thing you haven't taken into account is the size of Singapore, and their government. A tiny thing, sandwiched between giant, and far worse neighbors, as pointed out below. They have a sort of community thing going on, and are far closer to their government (just based on numbers), than we could hope to be here in the US.

What seems to be working for them, and apparently it is working well for them, would not work for us here. To compare a large powerful country; 1930s Germany, Russia, China, the US, whoever, to Singapore; is compare apples to, .. well, cinder blocks or something else very unlike apples.

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

jeIIomizer (3670945) | about a month and a half ago | (#47596307)

One thing you haven't taken into account is the size of Singapore, and their government

The size of Singapore and their government is irrelevant. No matter the size, due to the fact that humans make it up, it is corruptible. History has shown this so many times this isn't even debatable.

What seems to be working for them, and apparently it is working well for them

You think violating people's fundamental liberties qualifies as "working"?

Re:Education? Affordable housing? Healthcare? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595307)

It may not be necessary, but that is usually the cost when government offers them for 'free.'

Not sure how much of a choice it was.. (2)

Jeeeb (1141117) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593027)

But they've also obliterated privacy and restricted what people can say and do. "Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the "social contract" between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care."

I'm not Singaporean but of the Singaporeans I have met, I'm not sure many would agree about it being a choice. Plus the implication that they gained security, education, affordable housing and health care through giving up their freedoms is clearly wrong. Plenty of those countries have all of those things without being ruled by a billionaire dictator and his family.

It takes two (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593073)

A contract implies that you can choose not to agree with it.
It's like most dictatorships only a bit more friendly on the outside. All undesirables and freedom loving citizens will be purged.

I think things like this are more the reason than something like a "social" contract:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_in_Singapore
and
http://singaporedissident.blogspot.nl/2007/09/singapore-government-sanctioned-cold.html

Exceptions don't tend to work (1)

jd (1658) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593125)

If X can do it, then Y will believe they do/should have the tight to do it.

In this case, the "it" is to file, index and retrieve aspects of your private life.

If a company, without authorization, can do so, then so can a government. If necessary, by outsourcing to said company.

If a government, without authorization, can do so, it is inevitable companies will contend the same.

Since organizations are increasingly interchangeable with governments (similar powers, similar immunities, similar thirst for conquest), this can only get worse.

What we need is a clear set of universal rules that apply to EVERYONE. And, no, I don't mean everyone except Blogger Joe, Multinational Monolith Inc, or the government of the right honourable Sir Twiddlethumbs III. And I believe, absolutely, that well-defined boundaries encapsulating privacy will be a cornerstone of any such rules, even if that smudges some of the paintwork around various definitions of freedom. Freedom is zero-sum, the Tragedy of the Commons is a real issue, and damnit I am NOT a lab rat! Now where's that cheese...

Re:Exceptions don't tend to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593649)

Sad truth

Yes you are a lab rat
Are you wiling to rook the boat to the point where the powers to be, organize a economic and social crisis where most people will go back asking for mercy and any kind of order and/or peace and follow it through until something better emerge? you and who else?
Do you know why the crazy radicals do well in war devastated zones?
because they organize themselves into control, help networks and protection rackets/armies to give the people an illusion/ hope of normal life even if that means no freedom or rights of any kind.
Governments and corporations do the same, our "rights" are just cost effective handouts
As soon as our rights became too expensive or a threat to the status quo they get written off

The racists were right all along (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593185)

The West is about FREEDOM OF CHOICE. The East is about FREEDOM FROM CHOICE. The differences arise from genetics. Westerners can metabolize alcohol. Easterners can't.

Perhaps the racists were right all along.

"Disneyland with the Death Penalty" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593425)

It's good to remember that Singapore is in Asia, where people look a little different at individuality and their relationship with the state. It's also a pretty small country, a city state, and so has a relatively close relationship with its citizens who moreover are all indeed citizens: City-dwellers. Oh, and apparently the government does take pains to execute the (collective) will of the people, and so actually does uphold that social contract. The country would empty in a heartbeat if they wouldn't.

This is a bit different than plenty other places. I'm quite sure it wouldn't work in even a single metro area in the USA, for example, nevermind the entire thing.

Goverment by fear (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about a month and a half ago | (#47593795)

"It's hard to know whether the low crime rates and adherence to the rule of law are more a result of pervasive surveillance or Singaporeans' unspoken agreement that they mustn't turn on one another, lest the tiny island come apart at the seams."

If your every move is being watched by a government that can and will scoop you up and destroy your life for so much as saying something they don't like ('undesirable content' indeed!) then it's completely and totally moot whether or not people 'behave', because you're inhibiting their true nature via threats to their existence. At best you're driving criminal elements of all different stripes deeper underground, not stamping them out. Something as trivial and relatively innocuous as filesharing, or actually speaking your mind (when it's not a 'popular', or perhaps in this context, a 'state approve' viewpoint)? They just learn to hide better. In my opinion, it's about as valid as Victorian morals or the Puritans, who also were just better at hiding their dirty laundry and base desires for sake of appearances. You can't legislate and mandate morality.

Re:Goverment by fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47595991)

... about as valid as Victorian morals ...

When political correctness of the late 1700s denounced casual sex, women developed ways of signalling that they were willing to break the rules. For example, garter belts and hand kissing. But it was widespread destruction by 20th century warfare that forced this secretive courtship to be discarded and forgotten. Now, women run around almost naked and demand it doesn't mean anything. Yet men aren't allowed to do the same.

The first obstacle to building any counter-culture is finding more people like me. In the 1800s and the 1960s, one didn't have to go far to find people who wanted more sex. Likewise for the speakeasy in 1930s USA. But how does one signal to the world at large that one is certain type of criminal or dissident? As surveillance becomes more pervasive and invasive, it becomes more difficult to find like-minded people and avoid the scrutiny of the police or secret police.

Can there be an underground resistance when every movement can be seen by the government? In the cold-war 1950s, East Germany functioned effectively with oppressive government and elevated the status of women while the 'free' world restricted women to being mothers and wives. Not much is said about underground resistance to a government that spied on most of its population.

In 'Brave new world', a utopia was created through genetic engineering: Cloning eliminated 'abnormal' people which eliminated dissent and crime. The conflict came from a 19th century man who refused to accept the generous social contract. A contract where responsibilities were minimal and moral responsibility was not decided by love and pregnancy. In his case, his alienation from the technological society was so complete that he committed suicide. Modern-day surveillance will cause identical alienation. How will it be handled? One answer is the now common school massacre, which may be problematic since guns will be forbidden in a total surveillance society.

Brave new world! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47593837)

Indeed!

Thanks but no thanks.

it serves to remember (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47594187)

A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. And the effects on the populace can turn on a dime with a change in administration.

In the US, an argument not made often enough (in my opinion) regarding government surveillance powers is that "this may be good for us now, but it's gonna really suck when the other party gets back in power".

Re:it serves to remember (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595271)

Uh, it sucks regardless of which party is in power. In order to protect everyone's liberty, the state isn't supposed to have such powers in the first place. Otherwise, small interest groups can use it to push the rest of us around. This is the mainstay of today's political arena, and the source of most of its problems.

Re:it serves to remember (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47595487)

One of the wisest things I've ever read in a slashdot comment

Re:it serves to remember (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595627)

> Uh, it sucks regardless of which party is in power.

Yes, that's the real moral of the story.

I'm sorry, it may be due to the crowd I'm forced to work in, but I tend to put things pragmatically rather than morally, because people (at least, some people) seem to connect better to pragmatism than to mere right and wrong.

I think Heinlein had a quote about that, but it slips my mind at this moment.

Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47594309)

How will constant and pervasive surveillance affect innovation and genius?

Captcha: expels

No different than here then .. (1)

lippydude (3635849) | about a month and a half ago | (#47595039)

'Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the "social contract" between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care.'

No different than here then, except our government is busy selling off what don't belong to them, so as we can buy it back again. Some people seem to have forgotten the fact that governments don't guarantee anything, we hire them and they work for us.

Litterally 1984 (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a month and a half ago | (#47596343)

In all my years reading slashdot, I've never seen an article litterally advocating the type of society as found in 1984. No, this is litterally Oligargial Socialism, i.e. facism, stalinism, and maoism(english socialism, neo-bolshievism, and obliteration of self/death worship, respectively).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Theory_and_Practice_of_Oligarchical_Collectivism

thats what you have to look forward too. Too hell with these newage facists

Singapore is an authoritarian hellhole (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a month and a half ago | (#47600649)

The only reason we don't speak of it as such is because it's also a finely-tuned profit-generating machine and the ruling class fawns over it, civil liberties be damned. We'd be all lovey-dovey over China too if they didn't get adversarial with the US every now and then, and it doesn't help that their political party has "communist" in its name and isn't split into red and blue teams.

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