martes, 23 de diciembre de 2014

Privatisation of the "Big Brother"

The "Big Brother" is the omnipresent entity of "1984", one of the most read novels of the 21st century. Although Orwell gave this name to the Party leader of the dystopian Oceania of the novel, it is generally given this name to the administrative organisation of the superstate. Therefore, "Big Brother" has become a synonym of a State where surveillance by the government is a non-stop activity.

Without doubts, Orwell never thought there would be a rolling back of the State frontiers. Since the 80´s, instead of a realisation of an omnipresent State we are getting a shrinking government. A great number of former public services have gone to private hands. Does it mean that we are safe from the totalitarian nightmare pictured by Orwell? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The reality is that we are living a kind of privatisation of "Big Brother".

One of the most worrisome outcomes of digitalisation is massive private surveillance. Although the majority of the people are worry about the Snowden case, I believe as others that the reality is that the intelligence authorities do not understand the data. This misunderstanding drives to a surveillance with less risks to our privacy that sometime is pictured. The real danger to our privacy comes from those who know how to unleash big data technology on the data they daily collect about us. It is not difficult to collect every day a piece of new about a "snooping" activity of Uber, Facebook, Twitter or Google. 

Orwell would write a different novel today. It would be closer to "The Circle" with a private "Big Brother" more powerful than the State. Nevertheless, it would have been more realistic. Orwell would have included also in "The Circle" at least other two private companies called "The Square" and "The Triangle". In the same manner as Oceania, Eurasia and Africa fought without end between them in 1984 for absolute power in the world, the three imaginary companies would fight for being the dominant of the Internet in a continuous battle.

"1984" never becomes a reality. The model for the public "Big Brother" pictured in the novel, the Soviet Union, disappeared before reaching the peaks of surveillance described in the novel. The question now is we will be equally fortunate with the private "Big Brothers".

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