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Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Governments

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Citation Edit

John Villasenor, Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Governments (Brookings Institute) (Dec. 14, 2011) (full-text).

Overview Edit

Within the next few years an important threshold will be crossed: For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders — every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner. Governments with a history of using all of the tools at their disposal to track and monitor their citizens will undoubtedly make full use of this capability once it becomes available.

This report looks at this development and its consequences for American foreign policy, impacting issues as diverse as human rights, trade, nuclear nonproliferation, export control, and intellectual property security.

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