By Shea Garner
George Orwell wasn’t too far off with his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. While his predictions about our technological advances may have been slightly off, his eye for government intrusion on private matters was more or less spot-on. With the looming threat of SOPA’s passage as well as other similar acts, the government’s wish to monitor our private lives is becoming more and more apparent.
I’ve been studying in London this semester and this issue seems especially prominent here in the UK. Pubs, Radiohead, and bad teeth aside, the United Kingdom has been the center of the debate in whether or not a government should be able to control social networking. After the London riots in August 2011, some government officials suggested keeping watch over social networks like Facebook and Twitter (both tools were used by “rioters” to spread information to the public). This only seemed to ignite the rage exhibited by many of the protestors both then and now.
As of April 2012, the BBC reports that new laws will allow the government to monitor the email and web usage of everyone in the UK. Big Brother is watching! Felonies have even increased since the government announced that the installation of cameras and other security devices would make crime almost impossible to get away with. This marks another step in Parliament’s hope to crack down on crime and terrorism in their country, but finds them slipping into Orwellian territory. The office states that their actions are justified to “maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.”
What does this have to do with our great citizens back in the US of A? Get angry! The UK is more or less taking the steps that our government has already taken with the introduction of the Patriot Act in 2001. And SOPA will only continue to restrict what we are able to view and access on the Internet. Students in London have already expressed their dismay with this proposition, even going as far as threatening more rioting. What are we doing back in America? Call up your state’s senators and speak your mind so we can, indeed, stay “the land of the free.”