George Orwell's 1984
George Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903 in Motihari, Bengal, India. He served in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, fought in the Spanish Civil War, worked as a producer for the BBC and was a special correspondent for the Observer and Tribune. And of course he was a prolific writer with such classics as 1984, Animal Farm, Burmese Days and his collection of essays. Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), is a profound anti-Utopian novel that examines the dangers of totalitarian rule. Although Orwell expressed leftist views, he was a staunch individualist and political idealist, and was called by his contemporaries the conscience of his age.
The setting for the book Nineteen Eighty Four is Airstrip One in the superstate Oceania, ruled by the "Party" and headed by "Big Brother". In a grim city and a terrifying society, where "Big Brother" is always watching, the "Thought Police" can practically read your mind, the streets are dirty, people are packed in ghetto like flats, food is rationed, and there is only one brand of cigarettes and synthetic vodka. Everyting is owned by "Big Brother" and his face is on every wall and telescreen - telescreens are much like television sets except the Party uses them to spy on the people and there is only one propaganda channel. The Party's agents constantly rewrite history. The official language is "Newspeak" and the society is dominated by such slogans as "War is Peace", "Freedom is Slavery", "Ignorance is Strength", etc. There with no free speech, no privacy, no gold or silver, no private ownership or concept of sound money (or maybe they had some form of new money instead?), not even freedom of thought.
Though the year 1984 came and passed, at first glance we find ourselves far from the squalor and hardship professed by Orwell. But, many of his points regarding the lack of privacy and freedoms are coming true. They might not be as blatant as in his book, but they are being passed as laws and implemented every day. It is not just governments around the world that want to gain this control, but corporations are also looking to gain profits by getting more and more information on their customers. The questions most often put forward are, 'Is individual privacy dead?' and 'What is the role of technology as we slip into this type of society?'. Technology has helped us live longer, more fuller lives but its unchecked applications are also threatning our privacy. Luckily, we can use technology to protect ourselves as we go about our daily lives though technology is also being used against personal privacy - which way the pendulum swings is still a question, though many believe that it is favoring the latter. Both 1984 and Animal Farm are books well worth reading and show Orwell's uncanny foresight about the future and insight of the human psyche.
A few decades ago, only governments and diplomats used encryption to secure sensitive information. Today, secure encryption on the Internet is the key to confidence for people wanting to protect their privacy, or doing business online. E-Commerce, secure messaging, and virtual private networks are just some of the applications that rely on encryption to ensure the safety of data. In many companies that have proprietary or sensitive information, field personnel are required to encrypt their entire laptops fearing that in the wrong hands this information could cause millions of dollars in damage.