1984

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 1984

In the 1970s, 1984 seemed a better bet, that is a greater fear, than Brave New World. In the heady 1990s, perhaps Brave New World had the odds. In the 00s and 10s, is 1984 ahead again?

1932: Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World was published. Set in England 632 AF (After Ford, i.e., 2540), the highly engineered society is controlled by chemical modification of embryos, hypnopaedic conditioning, group rituals, and the freely available hallucinogen, soma.
 
1949: Fitzroy Maclean's Eastern Approaches was published. Maclean joined the British Foreign Office and soon after applied to move to the embassy in Moscow. While there he attended the 1938 show trial, the Trial of the 21; his book includes a long description of the trial in all its absurdity. (The book also covers Maclean's adventures travelling in the Soviet Union and central Asia, while often being tailed, and his time in the British army during WWII.)
 
1949, June 8:
1984
George Orwell's (Eric Blair's) novel Nineteen Eighty Four was published. Oceania's Airstrip One (Britain) is grimly and mercilessly controlled by the Party and its leader, Big Brother. This is made possible by indoctrination, the rewriting of history, the modification of language (Newspeak), and near complete surveillance by always-on, two-way telescreens.
 
1950±: Anti-communist investigations ("McCarthyism") in the USA led to thousands of people being blacklisted and thrown out of work because they were, or had been, or were suspected of having been, communists. (Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible (1953), used the subject of the 17C Salem witch trials to skewer McCarthyism.)
 
1958: Aldous Huxley's essay Brave New World Revisited reviewed the predictions made in Brave New World and in Nineteen Eighty Four.
 
1960s, 1970s: "Australia's internal spy agency ASIO vetted potential communist sympathisers at the ABC and even tapped journalists' phones during the 1960s and 70s, newly declassified files reveal. ..." -- [5]. Others were also targetted -- [9].
 
1971, June: The New York Times published extracts from the so called Pentagon Papers, a secret Pentagon study of US involvement in Vietnam since the 1940s, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. They revealed increased bombing of Cambodia and Laos and other attacks that had been kept secret.
 
1972, November: Richard Nixon was relected as US president. However, a burglary at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex on 17 June 1972 was eventually traced back to reveal a series of illegal activities by Nixon's aides. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward at the Washington Post, with the help of the informant "Deep Throat" (Mark Fells), broke the story in a series of articles [1]. In 1973 it came out that conversations in the Oval Office had been secretely taped, and these tapes proved Nixon's own guilt beyond doubt. Nixon announced his resignation on 8 August 1974 rather than be impeached. Bernstein and Woodward wrote All the President's Men (1974) about the affair.
 
1976: Chairman Mao Zedong of China died, after presiding over the Cultural Revolution (1966 on) and much else. (It was widely reported in 2013 that China was to end its "'re-education through labour' programme" [8].)
 
1984-1985: The UK coal miners' strike saw Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government break the power of the National Union of Miners (NUM). It was reported at the time that recently developed camera and computer technology to recognise car number plates was used to help track miners' cars. MI5 carried out counter-subversion operations including tapping the phones of union leaders [2].
 
1990, October: East (GDR) and West Germany reunified. The borders opened and the Berlin wall "fell" in 1989. In January 1990, the offices of the GDR's Stasi (State Security) were stormed and the enormous extent of its (paper) files on its citizens, and others, became clear.
 
199x to 200x, and on: As the internet penetrated into China (PRC), the Golden Shield Project* was developed to monitor and censor it. The net had delivered the technology to implement Nineteen Eighty Four. While western writers complained about the likes of .cn state hacking of US computer systems and the *Great Firewall of China, it was supposed that the west would never do anything like that.
 
2001, September 11 ("9/11"): Four airliners were hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists. Two were crashed into the World Trade Towers, and one into the Pentagon. The fourth crashed after passengers tried to overpower the hijackers. Amongst other consequences, greatly increased anti-terrorism powers were subsequently given to security forces in the West.
 
2004: The USA began using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) [3], also known as drones, to fire missiles at suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members, particularly in Pakistan. The number of drone strikes greatly increased during Barack Obama's Presidency (2009 on).
 
2008 June 12: David Davis MP, former shadow home secretary, resigned to force a byelection on the issue of the erosion of civil liberties in the UK. His speech mentioned "A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens." a figure taken from [4]. Davis won the byelection.
 
2010 April: Wikileaks, the whistle blower web site, released the "collateral murder" video taken by a US helicopter over Baghdad in 2007 as it shot and killed a group of people who turned out to be journalists and civilians [6]. Hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic messages were also leaked.
2012 June: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, fearing extradition from Sweden to the USA, sought asylum in the London Embassy of Ecuador, rather than be extradited to Sweden (on another matter).
2013, August: Private Bradley Manning (later Chelsea Manning), the US Army whistleblower was sentenced to 35 years in prison under the 1917 Espionage Act. (Manning was charged with, but found not guilty of, 'aiding the enemy' which potentially carried the death penalty. Also see Jan. 2017)
 
2013, June 7: The Guardian newspaper reported that "The [USA] National Security Agency [NSA] has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants."
On the 10th, "Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee, outed himself as the Guardian's source." Snowden requested asylum in Ecuador, but could only reach Russia while remaining out of the USA's reach.
2014, January 17: President Barack Obama ordered some limits on the use of bulk data collected by US intelligence agencies [10].
2014, March: Appearing by telepresence robot, Edward Snowden [spoke] at TED2014 about Surveillance and Internet freedom..." [11].
 
2013, October 29: Tesco's 450 UK petrol stations will use "Amscreen's audience measurement technology, OptimEyes; a system which is able to determine basic demographics such as gender, age, date, time and volume[!]" [7] to target ads at customers.
 
2014, July 31: John Brennan, the Central Intelligence Agency's director, apologised to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee, admitting that the agency spied on committee staff [14].
 
2015, June 2: "The US Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to end the bulk collection of millions of Americans' phone records ... A federal appeals court ruled the program illegal last month, all but ensuring its days were numbered." [15]. But the debate continues. Also see [16].
 
2015, October 6: The European Court of Justice ruled [17] that the 'Safe Harbour' convention did not necessarily allow Facebook and the like to transfer personnal data from Europe to the USA. The case was brought following concerns about, for example, surveillance by the USA.
 
2016: Snowden, the movie (dir. Oliver Stone).
 
2016 November, .uk: The Investigatory Powers Bill (the Snoopers law) requires "communication providers [to] keep a log of their customers' net browsing behaviour for a year" [18].
 
2017, January: Barack Obama, the outgoing US president, commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning who was originally sentenced to 35 years (see Aug. 2013).
 
2017, January 20: Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the US.
Doublespeak was soon in use in the White House: 'In his first briefing as White House press secretary, Sean Spicer cited figures about attendance that were quickly denounced in many US news outlets as "falsehoods" and even "lies". Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway later said Mr Spicer had been presenting "alternative facts".' [19]
 
2017, March: Wikileaks published thousands of secret CIA documents apparently detailing how the CIA hacked iPhones, Android phones, Microsoft Windows, Samsung smart TVs, and other software and devices to spy on their users. It was reported that Wikileaks would give technology firms details of the CIA malware [20].
 

[1] The Watergate Story, Washington Post archives [www][2013].
[2] S. Milne, What Stella left out, on the autobiography (Open Secret) of Stella Rimington "assistant MI5 director in charge of F2 branch" at the time, later Director-General of MI5 -- The Guardian 3 October 2000 [www][2013].
[3] Long War Journal [www][2013].
[4] C. Norris and M. McCahill, CCTV: beyond penal modernism? British Journal of Criminology, 46(1), pp.97-118, 2006. [www][2013], [doi:10.1093/bjc/azi047][2013], auth1@[Sheffield] & auth2@[Hull][2013].
"... conducted two surveys in a South London Borough. ... On average there were nine cameras per institution. ... This would mean that in London (with a population of 7.2 million residents) there may be as many as one camera for every fourteen people. Tentatively, extrapolating these figures to the UK as a whole there may now be some 4.2 million surveillance cameras in operation." -- pages 9, 10.
A 2011 survey by Cheshire PCSOs estimated there were more like 1.85 million surveillance cameras, one per 32 people, in the UK -- the G. [3/3/2013]. 1.85 million or 4.2 million, it's still a lot.
[5] D. Mark, ASIO files reveal ABC, journalist monitoring, ABC 20 June 2007 [www][2013].
(Personal information in ASIO records - Fact sheet 53:
"The National Archives in Canberra holds many records of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). ..." -- NAA, 2013 [18/1/2014].
ASIO files on writers and literary groups - Fact sheet 69:
"... The National Archives in Canberra holds ASIO files on several Australian literary groups and a large number of Australian writers. ..." -- NAA, 2013 [18/1/2014].)
[6] Collateral Murder video [a] [b] [2013].
[7] OptimEyes by Amscreen [www] 29 October 2013. Also see the BBC [4/11/2013], [30/7/2013].
[8] "China to loosen one-child policy and abolish labour camps," The Guardian [15/11/2013].
[9] Person of Interest, SBS TV, ep.1, 7 Jan. 2014
"In each episode ... a 'person of interest' is given their previously secret ASIO intelligence file and asked to explain the allegations contained in it. The program unravels a unique personal, political and cultural history of Australia that still resonates in a world gripped by controversial figures like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. The series uncovers never-before-seen photographs and covert surveillance film recorded by ASIO. Tonight's premiere episode (7/1/2014) [of 4] features author and journalist Roger Milliss. ..." -- SBS [18/1/2014]
Ep.2, 14/1/2014 "... features Michael Hyde, who was one of the most notorious student radicals in Australia. ..." -- SBS
"...but what, should not be forgotten is that these [surveillance photos etc.] were the identifications used to have Persons Of Interest sacked from jobs, careers destroyed, lives turned upside down by an intelligence agency that gradually ran out of control in the late 1960s. ..." -- Haydn Keenan, Smart Street Films, 2011 [18/1/2014]
[10] "Obama orders curbs on NSA data use" -- BBC [17/1/2014]. Small curbs.
[11] Edward Snowden (virtually) at TED2014 spoke on Surveillance and Internet freedom [3/2014].
[12] 20 May 2014: "My legal saga started last summer with a knock at the door, behind which stood two federal agents ready to serve me with a court order requiring the installation of surveillance equipment on my company's [Lavabit's] network. ..." -- Ladar Levison, Lavabit [2/6/2014].
Lavabit shut down in Aug. 2013.
[13] 17 June 2014: "The UK government has revealed ... GCHQ can snoop on British citizens' use of Facebook and Google without an individual warrant because the firms are based overseas. ... classified as external communications. ..." -- BBC [17/6/2014].
[14] 31 July 2014: "CIA admits to spying on Senate staffers ... improperly monitored the computers of committee staff members ..." -- The G. [www].
[15] 2 June 2015: "The US Senate on Tuesday [2/6] passed a bill to end the bulk collection of millions of Americans' phone records, ushering in the country's most significant surveillance reform since 1978 two years after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations to the Guardian. ..." -- The G [www].
And, "The legal authority for US spy agencies to bulk collect Americans' phone data has expired ... However, the Senate did vote to advance the White House-backed Freedom Act so a new form of data collection is likely to be approved in the coming days. ..." -- bbc [1/6/2015].
[16] 22 June 2015: "British intelligence agency GCHQ did not follow proper procedures when collecting information on two international NGOs, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal has said. ... The action was brought by NGOs (non-governmental organisations) including Amnesty and Privacy International. ..." -- bbc [22/6/2015].
[17] 6 October 2015, .eu, re 'Safe Harbour': "... Article 28 of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, read in the light of Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as meaning that the existence of a decision adopted by the European Commission on the basis of Article 25(6) of Directive 95/46 does not have the effect of preventing a national supervisory authority from investigating a complaint alleging that a third country [e.g., USA] does not ensure an adequate level of protection of the personal data transferred and, where appropriate, from suspending the transfer of that data. ..." -- European Court of Justice [6/10/2015].
"Safe Harbour was designed as a 'streamlined and cost-effective' way for US firms to get data from Europe without breaking its rules. ... In the wake of the Snowden allegations, the top European court has ruled that Safe Harbour is invalid. ..." -- bbc [7/10/2015].
[18] 29 November 2016, internet surveillance, Investigatory Powers Bill
'Snoopers law creates security nightmare' -- bbc [29/11/2016].
[19] 23 January 2017: Trump's 'alternative facts': Why the row about inauguration 'lies'? -- bbc [23/1/2017].
[20] 9 March 2017, 'Wikileaks is offering tech firms CIA files first' -- bbc [9/3/2017].
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