Engineering 1984

While catching up with the nettime mailing list, I came across two articles that give me the creeps.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘It’s been a fact that modern phones are in reality tracking devices that let us make calls, but the idea that awkward citizens might find their phone shut down at the behest of a Government agency is a very worrying thought and not one that fits with democratic principles.’

It fits in with Google’s earlier desire to provide “targeted TV ads” based on a profile of you. Put together, this is not too far from your TV presenting you a government-issued “Personal Service Announcement” about your opinions or behaviours.

Dear engineers, if you’re developing something, ask yourself: would this sell well to dictators like Syria’s Bashar al Assad? Is this a gadget that could feature in 1984? Who is benefiting or gaining power with this?

Maybe pause for a moment, and ask yourself if you want to help build the circumstances for a totalitarian regime (government, corporate). One day, our own government might turn into such a dictatorship…



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