Winston Smith and the other denizens of Oceania lived under perpetual surveillance via, among other apparati, their own televisions. Called “telescreens,” these ingenious, insidious devices constantly delivered government propaganda to the viewer while simultaneously recording what the viewer was up to. These screens were also located everywhere in public. Surveillance is freedom and such. For safety. For the children.
Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.
For a long time this scheme was relegated to the world of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece. Life often imitates art. Today telescreens are a reality (at least in theory).
First they put the “v-chip” in your TV. The chip allowed them to monitor what you were watching. This made it easier to prevent children from molesting terrorists or something.
Now, many TVs have the a little camera somewhere (so I’m told) which can capture whatever happens in front of the screen. Some consumers value these devices. Computers have long come equipped with a camera – for Skyping, etc. The camera can be turned on remotely by those with the technical know-how. As computers and TVs are usually connected to the web or a cable system they can transmit the information from the camera along the same line which delivers the service data. This information can be viewed and recorded.
Phones, tablets, automobiles and even refrigerators have similar capabilities/weaknesses. In other words, almost every gadget you use can be used to spy on you.
Authorities in England want to take this a step further. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, head of London’s Metropolitan Police (“Scotland Yard”), wants closed circuit television cameras in every home and business in his jurisdiction. Similar tax-paid nuts will echo his sentiment everywhere taxes are collected.
True, such a system might make it easier to identify burglars and other criminals. It might also make it easier to surveil and spy on those who do not possess a modern TV, computer or smartphone.
Suppose you’re watching some politician reciting the usual lies on the tube one night. Maybe you’re just reading his remarks in the evening paper. Naturally, you mutter some unpleasant truth about the pol and his mother. Thirty minutes later a van pulls up to your house. You are never seen again. The children are safe…
With all this science fiction coming to life I’m just waiting on a broadcast from John Galt.