Friday, January 27, 2012

George Orwell lives and so do his “1984” predictions

Geo. Orwell at typewriter
I was prompted to write this post because of another of those privacy naysayers who claims that, although identity theft, which results in the exposure of your most personal data, and which is the number one consumer problem for the Federal Trade Commission, we only have ourselves to blame for its loss.  Pete Cashmore, writing on CNN, says the fact that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was dumped proved George Orwell’s 1984 “woefully incorrect.”  He couldn’t be more wrong.

Agreed, there are those individuals out there—probably in the millions—that willingly give up their private information, mostly due to promises of certain conveniences that seem to these folks more important than protecting their personal data.  There is also a culture that has been expended by data gatherers that has convinced this same group that their information is safe.  It is not.  To support this theory, take a look at a recent NJ post that shows that in 2011 there were 419 breaches of private information exposing 22,918,441 personal records.

Watch a good synopsis of 1984 below:

One of the primary reasons I am so cynical over the security of your personal data is that the junk mail industry grosses over $4 billion annually from selling names and personal information with some placing profits over security.  My authority on this comes from being a junk mail data broker for 35 years.  I have seen the cracks in the damn and some of them still remain despite some efforts by this business to clean up its act.  And hackers may be around to haunt us forever.

Over the years I have written numerous articles you can see here on Orwell, 1984, and how Big Brother is ever present in a society that is driven by information.  Corporations picked up this thirst to know everything about you they can several years ago and maintain huge databases capturing every tidbit of data you will provide.  What the public doesn’t seem to understand is that once it is out there, it is there forever.

Take Google and Facebook alone and you have probably the most massive storehouse of private information available in the U.S.  Facebook’s Zuckerberg has been cited repeatedly for not protecting user data and Google just recently announced they would combine all their databases into one for more ease in profiling Internet surfers.  In my experience one of the worst things that affect consumers’ privacy is the combination of data which can virtually lay out a person’s life in its entirety.

What bothers me most is Pete Cashmore’s blasé attitude toward people giving up their data so easily.  He even compares this to the lack of control in 1984 by the citizens of Oceania where the thought police are everywhere.  There is absolutely no difference between that and the uncontrolled collecting of private information today that lingers in databases across the world which almost any first rate hacker can access. 

And the fact that consumers compound that by giving up their personal data so willingly only means that we are on the way to an unavoidable major disaster.

Research shows that Orwell actually predicted the Internet in the second draft of his dystopian novel but decided to cut this before publication.  There is no way to know just how the man envisioned this current feat of genius but it would be clear to me that he would not approve of it in any way challenging the right to privacy of Americans or the citizens of Oceania.

For the best site to explore George Orwell and 1984 go to Orwell Today.

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