Saturday, October 24, 2009

George Orwell's 1984 Wasn't Fiction?

Over the past couple of years I have noticed as many companies, organizations and adminstration have tried to control more and more aspects of people's lives. It is getting to a point where everytime I check out Digg.com or Reddit.com I find numerous articles that link to some form of oppressive behaviour being carried out by any number of groups. While they may argue that it helps the public in general, the reaction that I have seen online tends to point out that people are outraged by these actions!

For instance, today I read an article about how the LAPD is trying to implement a program called iWatch. Allisson Kilkenny from True/Slant, rightly points out that:

These kinds of anonymous hotlines are ripe for abuse, and there exist endless possibilities of innocent citizens being reported by their neighbors for the crime of “Living While Being Arab.”

It is just appalling that the LAPD and the adminstrative figures who helped get this program up and off the ground thought it would be a useful "tool." Turning each citizen into a sort of cctv camera that is trained to spot "suspicious" activity and report it is not going to work. While it may work by flooding the LAPD with an overabundance of reports, it will almost certainly fail at destroying the fabric of democracy. People should be allowed to live their lives without fear that if they don't act "normal" (whatever that is) or fit into a societal norm, they will be reported as suspicious.

ALSO, people aren't trained informants. I am sure that everyone would have a different definition of what is reportable and what is not. There is bound to be prank calls, and the odd-ball that will report something about his/her neighbour just because they don't like them. I think this system is a low point for society and I applaud people like Allison and the Huffingtonpost who have highlighted this program so that it can be scrutinized.

To formulate your own opinion check out the video:



One of Allison's commentators makes a very astute observation that in the video there are no Muslim people depicted, which therefore leads one to wonder: is this about focusing on the Muslim population? It is a very BIG oversight by the iWatch folks... or is it?

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Another form of 1984ism that I have noticed recently is the proliferation of cases the various groups involved with the Record Industry trying to curtail how people interact with their music. Two of the most blaringly obvious cases of their bid for control of how YOU use your music are:

1) The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) tried to argue that cellphone ringtones that could play songs were essentially mini-concerts and therefore were copyright infringement. However, thanks to a levelheaded judge this case was dismissed.

2) A woman in Clackmannanshire, United Kingdom was threatened by the Performing Rights Society (PRS) to be sued if she did not stop signing songs while she worked at a local A&T Food store. However, the group has since rescinded its claims and formally apologized to the woman and sent her flowers.

I just cannot believe that organizations believe that they can enforce such controls over people. It is becoming ridiculous. If we all lived by their rules I think their would be NO music to listen to and you would have to have numerous liscenses before you could play a note. It seems like we are heading for a surveillance society more and more each day as stories like the ones depicted above are becoming more numerous. Big Brother is watching...

3 comments:

The Commentator said...

Well stated. It's a point I try to drive home on my blog. In fact, most of my posts come from the perspective that liberties are eroding fast and furiously.

Alas, no one seems to care.

DC said...

Yes, I also believe that "liberties are eroding fast and furiously." The problem I think is that people have become so accustomed to this that they only pause for a moment and fret about it, then they move on to the next 'big thing.'

People are too caught up in their illusion of liberty that they don't pay enough attention to the smaller things happening around them that are crucial to the way they live their lives with relative freedom.

The Commentator said...

Hence why government believes it has the mandate to over regulate?