Guest column: Jack Tymann: What does '1984' style stories say about 2084?

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1984 has arrived and we must discuss this honestly to preserve our individual freedoms

One take-away from the NSA’s expansive data-mining is that George Orwell’s “1984” is upon us.

It was 65 years ago when Orwell wrote about what he called a “Total Surveillance Society” that controlled all humanity by the year 1984.

Amazingly he envisioned this before anyone could know about the computer, satellite, cellphone and Internet technologies that were to emerge.

His “1984” was inspired by concerns about the atomic bomb and the then-emerging Cold War. Orwell described a future government controlling all information and the minds and thoughts of all citizens — deemed necessary in addressing global geopolitical tensions, perpetual wars, and terrorism.

His “1984”political system sacrificed all individual liberties in the interest of collective security.

Orwell introduced concepts including Big Brother, “Double-Think,” two way telescreens, oligarchical collectivism, thought-crimes and thought-police. And the term “Orwellian.”

Well, over recent decades the potential of an Orwellian total police state has been created by a dire combination of (1) technology, (2) global threats from Islamic extremism, and (3) the belief in government as the answer to everything.

And now a young ex-CIA private sector intelligence analyst has leaked details of the far-reaching, massive NSA data-mining program that provides real-time access to all of our emails, phone calls, text chats, photos, passwords, purchases and locations — 3 billion new pieces of data daily — stored indefinitely in secret information warehouses.

Is the NSA whistle-blower a hero? Or is he guilty of treason?

It’s reasonable to view him as both.

Revealing top secret information is a serious crime — and Edward Snowden, who sees it 100 percent wrong for the government to secretly possess such power, will have to pay the price for his decision.

Setting aside Snowden’s fate — what is the proper balance between privacy and individual liberties and the need to protect all citizens from global threats?

What safeguards are needed or even possible to protect against the misuse of the information now available on every individual?

These questions come with trust in government at an all-time low.

The current Obama administration scandals have intensified focus on the dangers of an out-of-control massive central government — like the one in Orwell’s “1984”.

And now we become aware of an additional but obvious additional complexity. It is the private sector and not the government that controls the technology, skills, and tools of the Information Age.

This suggests three actually indisputable premises.

First — any technology will be applied by those who understand and can benefit from that technology.

Second — the entire world has become dependent on computers, satellites, and the Internet. There is no going back. The resultant dangers of the Information Age will only intensify in the decades ahead. The potentials for abuse are overwhelming.

Third — any information gathered as a result of today’s technology — no matter the protections in place — can ultimately be used for political and/or individual gains of those with access.

Will this debate see the current Obama administration scandals fade from public discourse?

No! The three major scandals each add to growing apprehensions about our massive, secretive, obtrusive, out-of-control central government.

Related investigations will continue to uncover additional facts that will only add to citizen mistrust of our government.

The AP and Rosen scandal suggests to some that our essential free press is in jeopardy.

Benghazi-gate suggests to others that our government unconscionably places politics over truth and winning elections over the safety of loyal public servants.

The IRS scandal proves that our government is already using supposedly protected data to contain and even destroy some who disagree with its policies.

As our government argues the need to target terrorists, House Republicans assert other motives and accuse the Obama administration of blatant disregard for transparency, duty, and the rule of law.

While most Americans agree we must target potential terrorists, they completely reject any targeting of political enemies or publicly avoiding dialogue behind the screen of national security.

Today Americans’ faith in government is staggeringly low. The New York Times suggests that our federal government is suffering a “crisis of credibility.” We still lack answers as to who ordered what and if there were any political motivations.

The NSA data-mining capabilities are now revealed in the light of other government sins — creating profound concerns.

The debate ahead is legitimate and crucial to the society we might expect in “2084.” Let’s pray that this discourse is conducted honestly and with full respect for of the God — given inalienable individual rights that have defined America since its beginnings.

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