In 1949, George Orwell published 1984, a classic tale of government oppression of ideas and freedoms, characterized by loss of privacy on a massive scale. The famous quote ‘Big Brother is watching you’ warns the citizens that little they do in their private lives will escape the scrutiny of the totalitarian regime.
Fast forward to 2007: Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Soddart, is raising the alarm on privacy. Ubiquitous cameras and video recorders, combined with an increasingly cavalier attitude about what can be posted online, are undermining our privacy in ways even Mr. Orwell couldn’t have imagined.
Says Ms. Stoddart: “It’s not just Big Brother who’s akin to a government watching you in the Orewllian dystopia. We’re all little brothers. We’re all fascinated with the gadgets that allow you to do this.”
Are we all little brothers, immaturely wandering our neighborhoods, snapping pictures of whatever catches our eye and posting it to Flickr within minutes? Are all the little brothers out there taking hours of video, hoping for something scandalous to happen so it can be captured and posted to YouTube for all to see?
And while 1984’s Winston Smith was fearful of the Ministry of Truth, in today’s world should we be wary of each other?