Ten Ways the Government Invades Privacy Today
Ten Ways the Government Invades Our Privacy Today
The book 1984 by George Orwell is one of the most powerful warnings ever issued against the dangers of a totalitarian society. It illustrates the worst human society imaginable, in an effort to convince readers to avoid any path that might lead toward such societal degradation. In his book, Orwell talked about the invasion of government into our lives, the effect that it would be on our freedom and the repercussions in everyday life. He describes a world beyond our imagination. Now it is being said the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described (Liptak, 2011).” By the same token, does 1984 present a startling and haunting vision of the world today?
In Chapter One, Orwell writes about “Big Brother,” the authoritarian leader of Oceania, a totalitarian state where the ruling Party wields total power for its own sake over the inhabitants. Big Brother is the face of the Party and he sees all, knows all and controls all. Big Brother is watching everyone. The citizens are told that he is the leader of the nation and the head of the Party. Orwell is focusing on the fact that we may someday live with cameras around every corner and “Big Brother” constantly looking over our shoulder. Americans will now too have their every utterance listened to by Big Brother in public through surveillance-capable street lights now being installed in major cities across the country which can record private conversations. Just as the citizens of Oceania could never be sure of their privacy, a deputy of Homeland Security Director told FOX News Charlotte, “you would never know” if Big Sis was watching (Watson, 2011). The system detects movement and if too much movement is detected, the police are notified. Many citizens view this as an invasion of privacy, “creepy” and the feeling that Big Brother is watching. Others see the system as a way to keep their neighborhoods safer. Recently, Edward Joseph "Ed" Snowden (born June 21, 1983) an American computer specialist, a former CIA employee, and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor disclosed up to 200,000 classified documents to the press. Details released from the cache have revolved primarily around the United States' NSA mass surveillance program (Edward Snowden, 2013). In his very first public words, Snowden himself addressed the alarming consequences of the NSA's hunger for obtaining and storing an incomprehensibly vast record of our lives: Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. [T]hey can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrong-doer (Kaufman, 2013).
Since media reports revealed that National Security Agency is collecting millions of Americans’ telephone records as well as data from the servers of major technology firms, there have been discussions in the public square about the relationship between the government’s efforts to protect national security and citizens’ expectations about the privacy of their personal data. President Obama and leaders in Congress have defended these efforts, declaring that they have prevented terrorist attacks, and there is evidence of public support (John P. Mello, 2013). Is “Big Brother” watching causing this to be an invasion on American’s privacy, or is it an effort to prevent terrorist attacks? Another example of how the government invades our privacy, similar to “Big Brother” in 1984, is "Carnivore," a system the FBI uses to scan Internet traffic for e-mail associated with criminal suspects. You pick up the phone, you drop a letter in the mail, and you reasonably expect that no one will be listening in or secretly reading your notes (Moran, 2000). Think again. According to John Moran: In congressional hearings, the FBI said the Carnivore system is used infrequently (25 times overall, 16 times so far this year, according to news reports) and only with proper legal authorization. The agency says the system is the Internet version of a telephone wiretap...