Peddling Big Brother

Foreign governments are snapping up surveillance systems that are produced -- but proscribed -- in the West

As a newcomer to the world of computers, the government of Thailand was surprised and flattered last summer when it won a prize for being a "hero of the information age" from the Smithsonian Institution and Computerworld magazine. The award, which focused world attention on the Interior Ministry's efforts to computerize the country's social services, proved to be a mixed blessing. Technocrats may admire systems like Bangkok's, which by 2006 will have stored vital data on 65 million Thais in a single, integrated computer network. But civil libertarians are appalled. Simon Davies, an Australian expert on such technology for the watchdog...

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