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Over 2,5 billion people get hacked every year due to no privacy and too much personal information put on multiple devices. In the dystopic novel 1984, George Orwell predicted a world in which the people of Oceania are controlled by a totalitarian regime. The leader of the party, Big Brother, has complete control over his people, enforced by surveillance and the harshest of consequences death. Intimidating posters of Big Brother cover every surface with the slogan “Big Brother is watching you” to remind citizens that they have no privacy. While in Oceania the government of 1984 pervades every aspect of every citizen’s life, in 2020 America, corporations invade privacy, often with the implicit assistance of the citizens themselves.

In this novel, Big Brother controls the citizens of Oceania through fear and manipulation. “You must love Big Brother,” O’Brien tells Winston to express his real feelings for Big Brother and Winston answers with “I hate him.” (309). If you do not love and respect Big Brother it can lead to death. They have surveillance that keeps the outer party under watch every second of the day. They use telescreens to keep an eye on rebels and people who aren’t doing rebellious things against the inner party. This telescreen can hear and see everything you’re doing and you are not able to turn it off. The only people who can turn it off are inner-party members. They also use the thought police watch behind the telescreens and track the people who go against the party. Any hesitation to say good things about the party or sleep talking and even any lack of being proud can be considered thought crime and that means that you have no love or loyalty to the party. Big Brother does not only have control over adults but brainwashes the thoughts of children, the junior spies, and has them monitor their parents and go to authorities if their parents are not loyal to the party. Mr Parsons the father of a junior spy is proud that his daughter turned him into the party and says ‘I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact, I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway’ (pg 295). Instead of being upset with his daughter he is brainwashed and proud thinking what she did to him was ok due to the rules that needed to be followed.

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If one has control of information, one can control people. Corporations like Amazon have new technology devices like Alexa that constantly hear and collect everything said to “update Alexas’ speech recognition”. Amazon also has a device called Ring which is a video doorbell that lets you talk and record the people outside. The daily use of social media gives us false news that we believe with no hesitation And gives more suggestions on things you may like based on things you have looked up and liked yourself. 23andMe is an at-home DNA test that tells you specific positions in your genome like eye and hair color. As you purchase these tools or use these sources daily, corporations start to gather information about you that is no longer private and that can start many problems within families. Alexa constantly hears conversations and has no off or mute button until unplugged. The ring has a face recognition that can see the movement happening outside but has previously had problems with being hacked by people and not being used appropriately. Social media like youtube and Facebook collects everything you liked and gives way more suggestions than what you were looking for. Finally, 23andMe has your DNA in a database that can no longer be erased.

In the novel, 1984 citizens are being watched and tracked by their government and are expected to follow orders and love their leaders no matter what. If one is not obedient they are killed. They are watched by telescreens, drones, helicopters, and people who are brainwashed to love their government. These citizens have no control over what they are going through and have to accept the fact that they will never have any privacy. Nowadays in the year 2020, we have devices that we willingly decide to use daily. As we use these devices every day we become addicted and we forget that everything advances and slowly we start being tracked, watched, and heard by corporations. We decided to buy these devices like Alexa, Ring, and even our phones for our loved ones knowing that once we had their new device they no longer have any privacy and have given out information like credit card numbers, face recognition, and even trackers. Unlike the characters in the book we have the choice to not use these devices and regain our privacy back, we become lazier as our technology advances and we are expected to have things searched or done for us. I believe if we keep being lazy and using our electronic devices we will end up being watched by our government just like in the novel.

This kind of control happens because we are getting so used to new technology and becoming lazier as new technology makes things easier for people. Maybe these things may not sound bad or controlling but that’s because we are already used to it and most people feel like it’s a bit too late to change these habits because we have grown to be used to it and not see it as a problem. I do not believe that people will stop using or purchasing these tools because they are in a way helpful to our lives when we become lazy and expect devices to give us information easily and quickly. I think that in the novel these characters have no privacy and they are little by little starting to become rebellious and realize that their government is taking control over their lives. These characters are becoming rebellious because they would love to have the freedom of being able to say what they believe and not have so many rules, supervision and earn a bit of privacy. Americans have so much freedom to the point where we think these new devices give us security and privacy. We as Americans need to stand up to corporations before they take control of our lives and eliminate the bit of privacy we have.

Works Cited

    1. Cuthbertson, Anthony. “Amazon Admits Employees Listen to Audio from Echo Devices.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 11 Apr. 2019, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/amazon-alexa-echo-listening-spy-security-a8865056.html.
    2. DePillis, Story by Lydia. “It’s Amazon’s World. We Just Live in It.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Oct. 2018.
    3. Molla, Rani. “How Amazon’s Ring Is Creating a Surveillance Network with Video Doorbells.” Vox, Vox, 28 Jan. 2020, www.vox.com/2019/9/5/20849846/amazon-ring-explainer-video-doorbell-hacks
    4. “What Health-Related Information Can I Learn from 23andMe?” 23andMe Customer Care, customercare.23andme.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013843028-What-health-related-information-can-I-learn-from-23andMe-.
    5. Wilde, Heather. “Over 2.5 Billion User Accounts Have Been Hacked This Year Alone. Here Are 4 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself.” Inc.com, Inc., 11 Dec. 2018, www.inc.com/heather-wilde/whether-youve-been-notified-or-not-your-identity-has-been-compromised-heres-what-you-can-do-about-it.html.

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