Monday, May 14, 2018

Quickies: From The “You Thought 1984 Was Just A Scary Story” Dept.

     I recall, when the year 1984 was past, how many commentators regarded the threats to freedom George Orwell’s novel portrayed as having been definitively escaped, sine die. I also recall laughing...hollowly.

     The future tends not to resemble the prognostications of “futurists” in every detail. However, when an imaginative writer conjures a dystopian vision by plumbing the shadows in the cellar of the human psyche and pondering the darker threads in the tapestry of history, he can produce something visionary: something that just might come to pass in its essentials if not in its finest details.

     Which brings us to today’s frightening story:

     Carrying a mobile phone could be made compulsory in order to cut crime, one of the country’s most senior judges predicted yesterday.

     Sir Geoffrey Vos said a law which forced people to carry a mobile phone that was permanently switched on would make it easier to track and catch criminals.

     He said that since Britons have accepted growing levels of surveillance, a compulsory mobile phone law may not seem a radical idea in ten years’ time.

     The suggestion from Sir Geoffrey, who as Chancellor of the High Court is the country’s chief property and financial judge, echoes George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which everyone is closely monitored by the state.

     Note how such a law would penalize the innocent, law-abiding Briton – as usual, in the name of a “compelling government interest” to “cut crime” – but would have absolutely no effect upon the criminal. It would, however, allow Britain to regiment its people far more closely than even that Surveillance State has managed so far. If the law were to include that the compulsory phone must include a microphone and recording capability, and that those features must also be continuously enabled, imagine how far the British authorities could go in policing “hate speech!”

     I have no doubt that there are American “liberals” – a species that seldom speaks openly of its real intentions – who would heartily endorse such a law. As long as their favored politicians were firmly installed in power, anyway.

     Orwell didn’t foresee that the telescreen could be made pocket-sized and portable. However, he foresaw everything else of importance, because he grasped that among Mankind’s teeming billions, there will always be a non-negligible percentage whose greatest desire is power over others.

     Smartphone acceptance in the United States is already so widespread that the NSA can track and monitor the majority of us at will through the embedded GPS receiver. Given the weak security built into the hardware and software of such phones, I have no doubt that some federal bright boy has already found a way to enable the mike and recording functions remotely, without letting the target know. And I have resolved, once again and with intensified feeling, never, ever to albatross myself with any such device.

     For the rest of you: food for thought.

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

Did you know that 1984 is one of the few dystopian novels that is seldom taught in schools today?