Saturday, May 02, 2009

Does Your TV Watch You?

So, in George Orwell's famous novel "1984", Big Brother installed two-way televisions in everyone's homes, televisions which by law (and by lack of user-controls) had to be left on at all times.

Now, have we brought Orwell's predictions to life? Have we invited surveillance into our homes via our newer, better TV's, or, for that matter, our newer, better computers?

I read an article a while back in the New York Times where the author said that, thanks to iPhones, cell phones, wifi, the replacement of analog televsions with digital, the use of debit and credit cards, and the electronic tagging of kids to prevent abductions, we've willingly, as a population, acquiesced to at least the potential for 24-hour surveillance.

In effect, the author said, we've given the "powers that be" a dream scenario-- one in which they are able to track our every movement, every penny we spend, and every word we say-- without them having to lift a finger. That's not to say they *do* track every movement... but that they can, should they choose to, and with great ease.

Is this paranoid? Hasn't history shown that all power is eventually abused? Should we be afraid?

Anyway, I gotta go watch hockey on my new giant plasma screen. It fills a whole WALL! Seriously! A whole WALL!!! WOOOOOOO!

(Image of Trinity from


c-watches said...


D. Sky Onosson said...

The big difference between 1984 and us, obviously, is the PRESENCE of user controls. What is lacking is the will to be careful with their use.

No one makes you take part in trackable communication, and for all the "ease of use" of it all, there are lots of options to avoid most of it if you so choose. I personally don't avoid them for the most part, but not because I haven't thought about it. Perhaps I just don't have enough to hide!

TheBlueMask said...

Still have no desire to own a celphone. I am a sucker for my plasma though

cara said...

I'm afraid.
well okay, not that afraid but aware.
I mean I phoned to order a pizza today and the person on the other end, knew my name and address (call display or something, no grand conspiracy, but just another mundane example)

Maitaca said...

well, I hate to be the bearer of already stated news, but on the drive out to BC, Alan and I listened to CBC radio non stop (damn uhauls never have CD players), and the news announced that china approved this exact orwellian two way monitor. Specifically in Computers, (not TV's yet), the monitor can be a receiver as well. It was a brief news thing (as CBC does these days) but we kinda just looked at each other like....WHAAAAA?

wolfBoy said...

And if China is doing it, can we seriously believe it's not happening on some level here and now?

I dunno.

Sky-- the "nothing to hide" idea presumes the gov'ts we currently live under will stay forever tolerant and benevolent as they are now. In many times and places in the world, your education and musical pursuits would make you someone with something to hide.

One of my profs said it this way-- in many places, to simply say out loud "I am an artist" is to put yourself at risk.

For me, it's more the potential that it opens up. I mean, once someone can record everything we do, why wouldn't they? And ultimately, to what end?

p.s. hi Mimi!

The Disclaimer said...

Perhaps it does happen here, but how is it applied? The government cannot act upon the information it collects in the plain light of day because it would have come by it illegally. Bush tried to illegally tap phones holding up the threat of terrorism, but that move was almost universally reviled.

In order for us to truly be prisoners of information our laws would have to be different, and those who hold power would need to find clever new ways to keep us down.

In fact they have us just where they want us now, and concocting a whole new set of lies and assumptions is both time consuming and unprofitable.

There are many ways to skin a cat, but I'd say it's better to let it believe it is living in a "liberal democracy" where "freedom" reigns and plasma TV's are "affordable" than in a police state where the watching of television is mandated by law.