Government

Big Brother Keeps an Eye on Orwell Home

George Orwell’s novel 1984 took the world by storm when it was published in 1949. It told the story of a dystopian future where the government maintained control by keeping a close eye on all of the people. Known as ”Big Brother,” the government used every means available to spy on its citizens. The populace grew accustomed to this loss of privacy. Those who might be inclined to forget were warned in posters and billboards that ”Big Brother is Watching.”

“You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized.”

George Orwell, 1984

What was written as a fictional warning about the future has become, in many respects, a prophetic description of today. London ranks as the most surveilled city in the world. Clarion Security Systems estimates that there are over 942,562 CCTV cameras in London. With a population of over 9.4 million residents, that comes out to one camera for every 10 people in the nation’s capital.

One London neighborhood is particularly well watched. At least 32 cameras are focused on the streets, sidewalks, and alleys of Canonbury Square in Islington, North London. Many of the cameras, such as this one provide 24/7 online monitoring through the camera’s never-blinking eye.

What would George Orwell have thought of that? It is a relevant question, since he lived on Canonbury Square while writing 1984.

A May 2022 article reports that the current owner has installed a Ring doorbell camera. That means that Big Brother is watching, and those who are being watched are watching back.


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