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December 22, 2011

Ottawa Citizen

We will soon reach the point where governments will have the capacity, should they wish it, to monitor, record, and permanently archive the communications and activities of their citizens from birth to death. That’s the sobering message of a new Brookings Institution report by John Villasenor, an engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Within the next few years,” he writes, “it will be technically possible 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.”

The machinery for such monitoring – from intercepting electronic communications to recording images of faces and licence plates in public spaces – already exists and is rapidly improving. Yet, it is the plummeting cost of data storage that makes total surve...

June 1, 2003

International Studies Quarterly 47:2 (June 2003), pp. 153-82

Abstract: The anticipated growth of new communications technologies, including the Internet and other digital networks, will make it increasingly difficult for states to tax global commerce effectively. Greater harmonization and coordination of national tax policies will likely be required in the coming years in order to address this problem. Given that the history of the state is inseparable from the history of taxation, this ‘‘globalization of taxation’’ could have far-reaching political implications. The modern state itself emerged out of a fiscal crisis of medieval European feudalism, which by the 14th and 15th centuries was increasingly incapable of raising sufficient revenues to support the mounting expenses of warfare. If new developments in the technology of commerce are now undermining the efficiency of the state as an autonomous taxing entity, fiscal pressures may produce a similar shift in de facto political autho...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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