"Thoughts are being made into Crimes. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens"."""the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thought crime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes". (George Orwell- 1984)
The closing decades of the 20th century brought something new: the potential for mass surveillance, made possible by the evolution of computer technology. When the government responded to the attacks of 9/11 by enlisting that technology in the service of national security, the potential became reality.
Our international phone calls, our emails, our financial records, our travel itineraries, and our images plus most of what we do daily , who we call on our mobiles phones through required RFID chips in our phones, and where we go everyday is captured on digital cameras now swells as a mountain of data that is being collected in the name of mining for suspicious patterns and associations. Imagine that you wave to someone and a high resolution camera took a picture of your hand capturing your fingerprints. Or when you go to a new job and they take a swab of your mouth capturing your DNA.
The ambivalence that we feel about new technologies that reveal our most intimate data and secrets, track our daily lives and expose what we talk, feel and write. George Orwell's vision in 1984 seems not so farfetched in the post 9/11 world. From flash drives to Cloud Drives technology we are being watched and all that we may think is private is now very open to government scrutiny.
In the veteran's housing program I live in my room is searched every two weeks. They call it an inspection. But in reality it's a warrantless search. An invasion of my privacy. At work we have surveillance camera's everywhere, watching everything that we do. My only safe haven is the toilet stall in the bathroom and I am not too sure even about that.
I make a joke about killing someone important and the next thing I know I get paid a visit by the U.S. Secret Service curiosity of a relative who thought it was his Patriotic duty to report me because I was working in a Muslim country, so I must be consorting with terrorists. As he told the Secret Service "All liberal's activities are to be held as suspicious."
On October 26, 2001, George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law, codifying numerous privacy-depleting measures. Among other things, the act allowed the government to spy on U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike, whereas before it was only the latter that was subject to this clandestine surveillance. It eased procedures to tap into emails and voicemails of citizens. When we travel by airplanes you have to take your shoes off at the security checkpoint because a bomb can be put in shoes. Now, you have to get sexually assaulted by a TSA employee or provide naked pictures of yourself before you board a plane because you can put explosives in your underwear. A six year old girl was searched and had that private area between her legs touched by a TSA employee this year. In the past that would be a crime of child molestation. But in the post 9/11 world it's considered normal.
We are all the Usual Suspects.