Silicon.com, 25 June 2003
With the inane goings-on of the tiresome bunch of fame-seekers in Big Brother dominating the pages of the tabloid press, it is a timely moment to remember the man who invented the phrase on the anniversary of his 100th birthday.
George Orwell created the then futuristic vision of a terrifying totalitarian police state where people are subject to intense surveillance against the backdrop of constant war in his book 1984.
So is it just coincidence that David Blunkett, the Home Secretary who seems to be using the book as his own personal policy guide, chooses this day to reinforce the message that the police need to exploit technology wherever possible to keep ahead of criminals and terrorists?
The police's IT organisation has also just revealed how biometrics – fingerprints, palm prints, voice and facial recognition – are key to its crime-fighting capabilities over the next five years.
Perhaps not surprisingly privacy groups are outraged at what they call the constant erosion of human rights by these intrusive technologies.
Predicting a Terminator or Matrix-style battle of the revolutionaries fighting the machines, Simon Davies of Privacy International is predicting mass civil disobedience and acts of sabotage to undermine this surveillance culture.
The issue is not that black and white though and the only thing that is certain is that with the imminent development of biometric passports and the government's ID card the debate is surely going to hot up.
So let's not forget that the technology itself is largely proven and is not inherently a problem but how it is used and who controls it may yet prove to be.
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