Orwell's '1984' Hits Bestseller Lists Thanks To PRISM

The NSA's PRISM surveillance scandal has vaulted George Orwell's classic work 1984 into the exalted ranks of Amazon's "Movers and Shakers" list, surging in popularity from a sales rank of 12,507 to 213 in just a few days.

Edward Snowden's leaks about the NSA's massive collection of data from the phone and Internet records of Americans have given rise to concerns over loss of privacy, making Orwell's novel of a totalitarian surveillance state seem almost prophetic to some. "Throwing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared," Orwell biographer Michael Shelden told NPR. In "1984," Orwell portrayed a society in which the state is constantly tracking the thoughts and movements of its citizens.

On Friday, President Obama referenced the novel when he defended the program, saying, "In the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look at the details, then I think we've struck the right balance."

I'll always remember this passage from the description of the Telescreen:

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

I've made many references to 1984 over the years; take a look at these stories, and decide for yourself whether this latest scandal is the worst.

Accenture Gets US VISIT Biometric Security Contract
   A group led by Accenture has won the five year US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT) biometric security contract.
Apple Apparently Working On Orwell's Telescreen
   Now, Apple would never create a tool suitable for totalitarian governments - but here's what we could use it for.
Big Brother Would Like A Word With You
   In a dubious zero-tolerance policy toward unwanted behavior, Britain lets Big Brother do the talking.
Onboard Threat Detection System For Big Brother Airlines
   This system seems a bit too intrusive, and probably would not make me feel more secure while flying.
UK's Orwellian 'Baby' Brother Cams
   The British are really going overboard with their surveillance society.
Big Brother Now Watching George Orwell's House
   Here's an added incentive to visit the house in which George Orwell wrote 1984 - something not mentioned in the guidebooks.
Web Photos Now Have Zero Credibility
   Now anyone can rewrite history, taking only seconds for each precious photo.
Big Brother Test Hall At Penn State
   Since old-fashioned honor codes don't seem to be working, Penn State turns to newfangled security gadgets - which, it turns out, are an old story too.
Gesture Recognition TV Watches You
   Would you want a set top box with a camera in it watching you watch television?
LCD Panel Fingerprint Scanner
   Interesting LCD display has a hidden function - it can also take your fingerprint.
Kindle Orwellian Nightmare
   An edition of the Times which might have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it.
Orwell's Telescreen Now Available
   Initially, this device could be used to create wearable displays that also offered eye tracking. However, it's basically a display that both presents an image and takes pictures at the same time.
Kindle Orwellian Nightmare Comes True!
   Literary irony was substituted for e-book versions of 1984 and Animal Farm on Kindles all over America today.
Emotion Tracking Big Comedy Brother
   Finally, Big Brother will have a software option for making sure that you are really participating in the Two Minutes' Hate.
Chinese Netizens Demand Info To Achieve Doublethink
   It should be obvious that you can't be expected to censor yourself unless you have access to information to which you shouldn't have access.
CCTV Camera Watches, Attached LCD Tells You How To Behave
   'It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.'
Computerized Surveillance Devices Open Their Eyes
   'How often... the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.'- George Orwell, 1948.

Via LA Times.

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