Privacy Watch: An Orwellian Bargain

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How would George Orwell have imagined the world in 2012? In 1948, he imagined a 1984 where the government could and did monitor our every utterance and thought—with horrible consequences. That didn’t quite come to pass. Not in 1984, anyway.

But flash forward a few decades, and you find us creeping toward a total surveillance state. This time, though, it’s not just the government playing Big Brother, but the private sector as well, with the rest of us going along willingly.


Consider a new app from a firm which, in tandem with Facebook, would allow people to be monitored—and identified instantly—by cameras wherever they went.

The lure to this privacy-rights slaughter? A meal or a deal.

Redpepper, a small Southern advertising & tech outfit with pictures of a lot of friendly employees on its website, proposes to make it easier to get good deals by automatically revealing your identity when you walk into a wide array of establishments.  It has created an online “app” (or program) that takes “tagged” photos of you found on Facebook and then matches it with your image taken by specially-designed cameras installed in stores and restaurants. Your smartphone then offers you a customized deal based on a history of things you have indicated appeal to you.

They call it “check in with your face.”

Watch their video showing how it works:


You need to “grant [the system] permission” to track you, though who wouldn’t mind saving a buck on a burrito or a mojito?

But think about what we’re giving up in return for a little immediate gratification. The consequences of the steady slide into complete consumer commodification are staggering. Not only are we tagged and labeled like cattle. The long-range implications aren’t hard to see: Anyone with ill intentions (and the means of accessing the data, legally or otherwise) would be able to track our movements and locate us in a second. They would know where we go, what we do, what we eat, and perhaps who we are with.

To be sure, redpepper alone is not responsible for this dangerous trend. It is but another outfit out to make a buck by jumping mindlessly on the privacy-reduction bandwagon.

Instead of viewing this situation with alarm, too few young people today know or care about “ancient history” (the 20th century) in which horrible things were perpetrated upon humanity by those with the desire and the ability to find and subjugate. Indeed, too few understand that these kinds of things go on today, everywhere in the world, including, as Occupy activists, young black males and others know only too well, right here in the Land of the Free.

Aiding and abetting this trend is a technology industry so in love with the next cool thing that it abandons any responsibility to put the brakes on—when “full speed ahead” can be perilous for us all.

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12 responses to “Privacy Watch: An Orwellian Bargain”

  1. Uncle Albert says:

    all methods assume that the mark is honest, what if he’s not? these systems can be deceived. of course, in time, they’ll become less vulnerable – leaving the mark with the final solution – don’t play a rigged game. walk away.

  2. Total surveillance is here NOW. The end goal is to get everyone microchipped (Mark of the Beast). America is already a classic police state and our taxes are funding the prison camps that will soon
    hold our children. As long as we continue to support the “Beast” system we will continue to be treated like cattle.

    • Uncle Albert says:

      rfid failure rate is said to be 25% from ESD at manufacturing level – anybody can take it from there… ESD is a really terrible “problem” and can (gasp!) cause RFID to fail. zapzapzapzap…

  3. Mick McNulty says:

    It was about 1984 when one of the High Street banks – Barclays, I think – installed CCTV in their branches, and from there it became post offices and then everywhere else. So even though Orwell wasn’t predicting 1984 so much as trying to put his story into a future context, he was pretty much spot on.
    Also, it is a little ironic that had he used his real name Eric Blair we might be talking about a Blairist future, because we nearly had that under that war criminal Tony. Dreadful, murderous individual.

  4. Pasqualito says:

    Lets be even more paranoid people :)

  5. Seattleresident says:

    If you don’t have a facebook account and you have a plain jane cellphone without all the bells and whistles, can they still find you?

  6. antoinepgrew says:

    Watch. Someone who is dealing with the Orwellian Bargain. In addition to his computer and lawyering bonafides, he has a PhD in History from Yale: (15 min)

  7. draftmama says:

    For all those reasons I will never have a smart phone. I have computers at home and at work, but, particularly because of my political beliefs am scared to bits about the destruction of our personal privacies.

  8. Thomas says:

    You mention the Occupy activitists–I’m asking b/c I honestly don’t know the answer: has anything happened to Occupy activists other than being arrested at protest sites?