Van E. Harl

BIG BROTHER 2084 OR 2014

Whether you have read George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) or not, you have heard and used the term Big Brother. Big Brother is the government’s surveillance of your every move that you make in both the public and the alleged privacy of your home.

In the book, 1984, you live in a very Spartan lifestyle with cameras and audio monitoring in your home. Your every action is under scrutiny and recorded for possible use against you at a later date, just in case they could not get around to you immediately after your perceived transgression against the State.

How many times have you seen the video footage of an armed robbery at a store? Cameras are everywhere in this country. It would take no effort at all to add a camera to that new TV you are buying. Every time you enter the room, the camera sends both visual and audio input back through the cable system and a modern Big Brother is monitoring you.

But why would the government want to monitor me sitting in my underwear, scratching myself inappropriately as I watch Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News channel? Maybe it is not me, maybe it is where and who I am getting my news from. Maybe Fox network is too critical of the current political party in power and the current elected officials want to see if the unwashed masses are looking for a better answer. Maybe “they” are electronically counting how many people are watching Fox (the enemy) and how many citizens failed to have their TV on the channel that was broadcasting the twentieth live propaganda speech that week, from the party leader in charge.

Oh that cannot happen, that sounds so Orwellian – nobody is able to monitor you that closely. Have you heard of the smart grid? In the very near future you will have a chip in all of your new appliances that will report back to your power supplier when that appliance was turned on and for how long. This is all done in the guise of controlling the use of power to help us decrease our consumption. Save power, save money, it all sounds so “green,” this must be good for me. Maybe.

Your family is all watching TV together. Everyone gets up during a long commercial for a bathroom break except you. While they are out of the room you quickly switch the cable channel to one of those premium channels that have folks doing things without their clothes on. Minutes later you switch back to the Disney channel before the family returns. You have been known to check out that adult channel in the past, so what? Months, even years later you are falsely accused of sexual assault. A warrant is issued to search your home, to include your smart grid usage patterns. They discover you on occasion have turned on an adult cable channel in your home. If there is alleged smoke, there is alleged fire. Big Brother has an electronic list of your “filthy” TV viewing, and now the neighbor lady said you sexually assaulted her. You disgusting person, you watcher of porn, you must be guilty, we have your records.

The Air Force Academy had a recent situation where some freshmen cadets using a key they sold, entered their upperclassmen’s rooms, logged onto their computers and send out inappropriate messages. Of course the first and second year cadets got mad and administered mass punishment on all the fourth year cadets. The problem is the upperclassmen had, themselves, perpetrated a security violation. You have to place you military ID card into the computer in order to even be able to log onto a computer. These upperclassmen failed to secure their IDs when they just left them in the computers, but it was so convenient. What these junior and senior cadets failed to understand was that they were leaving electronic evidence of their own punishable deeds.

Now when one of those upperclassmen gets caught one last time screwing up and the Academy wants to build a case to remove that cadet, they can present that the cadet has multiple computer security violations as more evidence. Air Force Big Brother will get them, even while they think they are doing right, hazing the freshman.

Did you know all new cell phones have chips that can track your every move? Think twice before you are someplace you don’t want your spouse or the law to know you went. Hey, who is that standing behind you?