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Re: Automatic Entry and Forms

From: <hallam@zorch.w3.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 96 12:12:37 -0500
Message-Id: <9602261712.AA24961@zorch.w3.org>
To: preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com (Scott E. Preece)
Cc: hallam@zorch.w3.org, www-html@w3.org

>(a) Napoleon would be particular interested in
>my personal data, if he were still alive [that is, what is "a Napoleon
>behind every URL" supposed to mean" 

Perhaps not Napoleon - although he did have a formidable secret police. Stalin 
certainly would have been. One of the concerns which we have is the maintenance 
of such links.

As an example, in Singapore the telephone logs are analysed to find out which 
social networks people belong to. People are arrested on this basis. singapore 
is a somewhat extreeme example of a modern police state in that the entire 
design of the state is intended to prevent opposition groups forming. This even 
extends to not building eating space into homes and subsidy of prepared food so 
that people eat and in particular entertain in the street and restaurants and 
not in private where it is harder to observe who is talking to who. [I have very 
good sources for this analysis by the way]. While Singapore does not have 
massive human rights abuses on the scale of Stalin's Russia and its convenience 
as an ally means that it is rarely categorised as a police state it is 
impossible to escape that conclusion.

There are many other countries which would like to be able to monitor dissident 
activity. China, Kewait, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia to mention but a few. I believe 
that the Web should be a tool for democracy which means allowing even those we 
disagree with a voice. 

This is one reason why I believe that we should make it easy for data to be 
collected with the users informed consent becuase by doing so we reduce the need 
for people to devise mechanisms that allow data collection without consent.

[This bit following  really is off topic, the bit above is not]

>(b) on what imagineable grounds
>one would describe Napoleon as a "homicidal maniac" and put him in the
>same category with Hitler and Saddam?

Napoleon was responsible for the death of a far greater percentage of the 
population of Europe than Hitler. There is no justification for any of 
Napoleon's campaigns. They were undertaken for no other purpose than to 
agrandise his Imperial regime. 

Looking at the matter historically Saddam is a far closer match. Napoleon was a 
better general, but not much. Napoleon's victories aginst the Spanish and 
Italians were against inferior troops. His defeat by the Russians and at 
Warterloo were due to being out generalled. Both Napoleon and Saddam attempted 
to create a unified region under their own depotic rule. 

Hitler's genocide tends to mask the magnitude of his larger crimes. While six 
million Jews and four million other people the NAZIs disliked were murdered the 
total death toll due to Hitler is sixty million. Most of these deaths were the 
result of the war Hitler started. While conventional morality seems to place 
making war into a special category which is excused condemnation I see no reason 
to excuse the majority of the deaths caused by Hitler on some medieval notion 
that war is an honourable persuit. 

Given that all three men caused the death of millions in an ultimately futile 
campaign to unify a region I see very good grounds to consider them equivalent. 
Just because one of the criminals lived a bit longer ago does not really make 
much difference. If people had grown up in the 20s and 30s with a view of 
Napoleon as a homicidal maniac rather than as some kind of hero then people 
might not have been as keen to let another person try to copy him.

Received on Monday, 26 February 1996 12:12:40 UTC

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