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Are we creating a "Big Brother" society?

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cdeeneedham | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 2, 2013 at 3:23 PM via web

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Are we creating a "Big Brother" society?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM (Answer #1)

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In order to say that we are creating a “Big Brother” society, one must either drastically overstate the degree to which the average American can be put under surveillance or one must define the term “Big Brother society” very loosely.

In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother was essentially everywhere and could see essentially everything.  There were viewscreens in every dwelling and Big Brother could, apparently, use them to see what was going on within range of any of the screens.  There was apparently no problem with finding the manpower to monitor every person in the society.

If we define a “Big Brother society” in any way that is even close to Orwell’s depiction of the society of Oceania, there is no way that we can say we have such a society.  It is true that there is more surveillance than ever before and more may be coming with the potential uses of drones.  But this is not the same as what Orwell was describing.  The things that can be done without warrants are generally visual surveillance of public areas where we do not expect to have privacy.  There is no way that the federal government has the manpower to go through even a small portion of the video that is captured unless something like the Boston bombing happens.  In other words, the legal and logistical barriers to a “Big Brother society” are insurmountable and we are not headed for such a society any time in the foreseeable future.

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