Technology's impact on privacy
In "1984" the "telescreens" were devices that were made to relay and receive visual and auditory information simultaneously; they were used to spread propaganda and to monitor the citizens of Oceania. The party also had microphones placed throughout the city of London, so that they could hear the conversations that their citizens were having. The Party employed these methods so that they could enforce the principles of Ingsoc and eliminate all crime in general, thus reducing or even eradicating the privacy of their citizens.
"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called." (1.5.62)
Orwell, George. 1984. N.p.: Signet Classics, 1950. Print.
In the modern world technology is also used to collect information, spread news and even stop crime.Organizations such as government agencies, financial institutions and health care providers may use technology to collect information on individuals, so that they can evaluate them, contact them or prevent crimes. Like the telescreens and microphones of 1984, the computer has made it easy for information on individuals to be accessed without their knowledge or consent. Personal information, as well as e-mail and digital photographs of individuals, can be circulated worldwide on the Internet, thus reducing their privacy.
Although privacy rights are widely respected, they are not absolute. Laws and policies in various nations often limit personal privacy in the interest of national security, law enforcement, public health, and news reporting. Most countries permit a number of activities that might be considered violations of privacy. Such activities include searches at airport security checkpoints and the distribution of addresses and phone numbers for marketing purposes. In addition, many countries allow law enforcement officials to intercept telephone calls and eavesdrop on private conversations (one example of these law enforcement agencies is the NSA). Usually such officials must obtain a court order or other form of approval.
Allen, Anita L. "Privacy, Right of." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 21 May 2014