October 17, 2017: Big Tech is Watching You
The Digital Age of Omniscience
About the Book
1984 is the highly acclaimed novel by George Orwell that coined the
phrase “Big Brother is Watching You”. Published in 1949,
it tells the story of a dystopian future.
1984 takes place in Airstrip (formerly known
as Great Britain), Oceania. The green area on the map above
Tragedy plagues Oceania. They are in a continuous war with the other
superstates and the people are controlled by the omniscient government.
Big brother uses telescreens with cameras and microphones to surveil the
people. The “thought police” are ready to arrest anyone who is guilty of
The protagonist in 1984 is a man named Winston Smith. He worked at the
“Ministry of Truth”, rewriting newspaper articles. By making propaganda
and revising history, The Ministry of Truth makes sure all available media
supports the party.
The Digital Age
Let’s just think about that for a second. Big Brother watches people
through TVs with cameras and microphones. What are you using to read
this article? A computer? A smart phone? A device with a TV screen, a
camera, and a microphone? Do you use anything owned by Google? Facebook?
Amazon? Apple? Microsoft?
I think we all are aware that our information is being captured by these companies.
GPS allows them to keep track of our movements. When we take pictures, they use facial recognition to identify who we are
with. And of course, they are all keeping track of what we type.
Now, with the popularity of smart houses on the rise, they will receive
an even clearer picture of our specific daily routines.
Google probably already knows a lot more about us than Big Brother
knew in 1984.
So, we all know that companies like Google and Facebook capture and
analyze our information to sell advertising. We are pretty much okay
with that. After all, having better targeted ads is a small price to
pay for technological advances and conveniences. Unfortunately that
is not where the story ends...
In 2006 I finished my Masters and was ready to start my career!
While in college I supported myself by working at South Florida bars.
When I graduated I knew I would never work at a bar again! Until I
accepted my first job (research sales). Now I worked far more hours,
for far less pay. Making economic success even more difficult,
my student loan payments came due.
When I worked as a high school math teacher I had to use my credit
card to pay for the gas it took to commute. When I brought it up at
lunch time, several other teachers admitted to having the same problem.
We were forced to take out a loan just to work!
Back then everyone said “at least we have jobs”. I saw the injustice
first hand and knew it wasn’t always like that. My cohorts weren’t
ready to stand up, but those who graduated in 2016 are…
I am going to have to get a bit into politics and economics.
Before I do so, I want it to be known that I have no party affiliation, ever. I believe at looking at the facts and analyzing policies with my own analytical ability.
The young people of today understand that the very rich billionaires
control the government. Bernie Sanders had a
very successful campaign calling for a political revolution. I do
agree with Bernie. Since the mid to late 1970s our government has
catered to the very rich at the expense of the common man.
I understand that there are many people reading my blog that may not
like Bernie Sanders and that is okay. The point you do have to
understand is that the young people do like Bernie Sanders and they
do believe we need a political revolution. One day the older people die.
The young people are literally our future.
Even if it turns out we don’t have a big enough chunk of the population
to make it happen today, it is still going to happen. Eventually the
young people (and their children who they raised) will become the
Also, I think most people understand that our government is corrupt.
I think most us know that the richest Americans do have more political
influence than the common man. So the rich billionaire class is the
dominant group with political control and the people are going to demand
What happens when a group who is being oppressed starts fighting for equality?
Let’s look at an example:
Jim Crow & Civil Rights
Jim Crow Laws
racially segregated the American south and were used to oppress black
In 1952 Rosa Parks
refused to give her bus seat to a white passenger. This was a big deal back
then. Afterward, she coordinated with other Civil Rights leaders, such
as Martin Luther King Jr
to fight for the rights of black Americans.
What happened when people started protesting regarding the institutionalied oppression?
Did the dominant group calmly discuss an appropriate resolution?
In 1964, 12 years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat,
President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So, what happened over
that 12 year period?
The dominant group continually fought against those demanding equal rights.
Protesters were arrested, injured and even killed.
Sadly, equal rights advocates and minorities still endure backlash and
institutionalied racism is still a major problem.
The dominant group does
not like to lose power and will use the resources that they dominant to hold
I think most people also understand that companies like Walmart, Exxon and Pfizer are corrupt. But tech companies are cool, right?
For social issues, like gay rights and the decriminalization of pot, tech businessmen do seem to be a lot more progressive. However, when it comes to economics, tech companies operate just like any other corporation.
They do what is best for corporate profits.
How much money do you think tech giant CEOs make? Do you think they are
on the side of the peasants or the nobility? Think about the abuse, dehumanization, and economic hardships that Amazon employees endure. Do you think Amazon is cool?
When the peasants rise, I believe the people who own all our information will
be fighting with the other nobility. Whether they are directly related to the government, the ones paying the officials, or just grateful beneficiaries, the super rich are in favor of keeping the system rigged. We the people
are being oppressed and they will not willingly hand us a bigger piece of the pie.
Even if I am wrong about my previous assumption, the information is out there and the government can
access it. It can and will be used against us, when necessary,
to prevent against a revolt.
Here are some examples of the government using our digital footprint
The government wants Dreamhost to share the IP addresses of Anti-Trump
Microsoft and other organizations are sometimes required (by law) to hand
over your data.
✶ Gilberto Valle
was arrested for talking in a chat room about cannibalism.
The authories regularly search and seize computers.
✶ The police can track you via GPS.