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A Creeping Orwellian State?

June 23rd, 2006

The government of Singapore recently unveiled a plan to provide nationwide WiFi access by the end of 2007. Yes. Nationwide WiFi. The Straits Times [straitstimes.com] (you have to pay to see the articles so don’t bother) ran this quote:

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said: “We will offer broadband connectivity anywhere, anytime and on any device.”

This is part of a larger package of projects aimed at helping Singapore catch up with places like South Korea and become a truly wired (or wire-less) nation. In addition to the free WiFi there will be a new island wide (very) high speed wired network and computers for the elderly and poor. The whole plan is to be completed by 2015.

But in a country know as the “nanny state” were national ID cards and censorship are the norm. What else could Big Brother do with a nationwide wireless network?

Singapore already has a Road Pricing [wikipedia.org] scheme called ERP that uses RFID cards to charge drivers for entering congested areas at peak times. With a reliable island wide wireless network this could be extended by adding a WiFi antenna and a GPRS unit to every car such that you could dynamically charge people based on things like how long they were actually on the road inside the ERP zone. Once you’ve taken this step it is easy to start tracking cars all the time, charging based on the number of miles driven, the time of day they are driven, event track the speed and issue tickets automatically.

And why stop at tracking cars? Rather than issuing a national ID card why not implant a small wireless transmitter into nationals? Big Brother could have a lot of fun with this one.

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