1984 …erm, 2013 I meant
We said privacy, we meant “sort of”
The world media in this part of the globe woke up with the sort of shiver many of the readers of 1984 by George Orwell had, perhaps on nights in which they speculated with the possibility of such a future coming true. They might have remembered the Outer Party members who have no real privacy. The reason for such thoughts is that we found out the American government has been spying on us and I meant us as it seems that their own citizens are free of guilt, or at least suspicious of reasons to be subject to surveillance
Though these shock waves are strong enough to cause a stir in most newsreaders across the UK and the US, it can be naive to believe it comes as a surprise. Back to the novel 1984, many inhabitants lived in apartments equipped with two-way telescreens, so that they could be watched or listened to at any time. We do not need those artefacts, there is no need for it since we have created a better way to allow that sort of communication: the Internet.
We have embraced digital sharing of our thoughts, our documents, our telephone directory, our calendars and so on. We share our most daring secrets in conversations on Facebook or email using Gmail and we express our sudden desires, hopes, grumpy moments using Twitter.
Is it then strange that governments feel the need to know about it? In the novel there is an ongoing war between the different world groups and it somehow justified the surveillance of their citizens. This is the same excuse that current governments use to justify actions to scrutinize our digital lives by the US government.
The British government has a similar plan to collect information by the agency GCHQ though the plans to roll out the legislation has confronted strong opposition within the government itself by members of the ruling coalition. That brings me to something I read in the British media about GCHQ, which has been involved in this scandal, explaining it operated within a “strict legal and policy framework”.
Facebook and Google operate within the same strict legal and policy frameworks according to them, I mean, their policies and the most convenient legality for the case. Yet, we are happy to use their services no matter how many times they keep changing their privacy policies or how hard is to ensure our control of that privacy. Therefore, it makes me wonder how I feel about the news today. Is it really surprising at all?
I don’t think so. I feel history proves us that governments can become paranoid about their own citizens as we read in 1984 and the digitalization of our daily routines has paved the road to a fully control, or sort of. So it won’t be surprising if I see in my Facebook or Twitter account that a new scandal of government surveillance has been revealed.