The explosion of new technologies is increasingly making it possible for governments to monitor the activities of citizens. The surveillance society was originally envisioned in George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four, where Big Brother was always watching, and every citizen had a two-way television in their home that watched their every move. Today, however, thanks to technology, the surveillance society is becoming a reality.
Many aspects of the surveillance society do not even seem intrusive to one’s life. Retail loyalty programs, website cookies, and even GPS monitoring are just as part of modern tracking as the no-fly list or measures to institute a national identity register. However, when an organization or government collects extensive information about the daily lives and habits of individuals, great power is being assumed by that organization. Something as innocuous as suggestions for purchases based on previous history shows that someone, or some computer, is tracking and remembering you.
The end result of the surveillance society is that privacy is an illusion. Whether we are on CCTV in public, or whether the NSA is collecting our telephone records, the ability to collect and store vast amounts of data on each and every person makes Nineteen Eighty-Four less a fiction and more a reality. Big Brother, it seems, is indeed watching.