The power to intercept nearly all communications is just around the corner

In his distopian novel, “Nineteen Eighty-Four” the English novelist, George Orwell portrays a society in which the activitis of individuals are monitored by the telescreen (a device which can, simultaneously transmit and receive at the same time thereby enabling the Thought Police to monitor the activities of people, both verbaly and visually). The telescreen is present in the home of all party members and is widespread in public places. All sounds greater than a whisper can, potentially be picked up by the telescreen and people never know whether they are being watched at any given moment in time. In addition to the telescreen Orwell implies that written communications are monitored (or at least those of officials employed by the government). The Memory Holes are (officially) recepticles into which waste paper or government documents which no longer comply with the official party line may be thrown and wisked away to furnaces for destruction. In practice, Orwell hints that many of the items thrown into the Memory Holes are retained, by the Party for future use against it’s enemies (real or imagined).


A recent report, by the Brookings Institution brings to mind Orwell’s novel. According to the report authoritarian states will soon be able to record all telephone calls, internet traffic and other forms of communication. The cost of storage is rapidly reducing in cost so, according to Brookings this scenario is a real possibility in the not to distant future. Governments will, in the future be able to trawl back through the communications of political opponents thereby increasing the power of the state vis-a-vis those who oppose it’s authority.


For this interesting, thought provoking and disturbing report please visit


About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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