Blog author: abradley
Thursday, September 22, 2005

George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1949, long before the PC came along. Tiny cameras were not available and Big Brother typically had to be physically watching you (either in person or from a stationary camera) to catch you at a crime (the book was political of course, and not technological). Either way, Big Brother always was watching you. Now we have PCs, the Internet, tiny cameras everywhere and available to all. And of course, Big Brother wants to see everything.

Although I hate writing about how the modern world reflects more and more what we see described in Orwell’s novel (Wikipedia suggests that “Orwell is reported to have said that the book described what he saw as the actual situation in the United Kingdom in 1948”), it seems fitting to remind people of the dangers of allowing too much access to information. PC PRO published a news item today talking about some ideas the European Commission has:

The European Commission has accepted proposals to log details of all telephone, email and Internet traffic in an attempt to combat terrorism and serious crime.

The proposals, which are designed to harmonise data retention practices across the EU, will need the backing of all 25 member states. However some states believe they have been watered down in response to pressure from telecommunications firms and civil rights groups.

If these proposals are the watered down version, I shudder to think what the original proposals might have been! Just wait for the proposals to flow when we all have RFID tags “to make purchasing goods at the grocercy store easier” surgically inserted at birth.

  • Robert Bennett

    Why is it that people trust government to solve their problems yet don’t want government to know anything about them? In this “pass the buck” era of Western Civilization, wouldn’t limiting government’s access to information impose a reciprocal duty on individuals to pay attention? And if paying attention imposes the ancillary duties of getting up off the sofa and killing the boob tube, how many Americans can we suppose are up to the task?

    (I love the image of Harry Truman sitting behind his “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” plaque. Reading between the lines, the plaque really reads “PASS ME THE BUCK” both figuratively and literally.)