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From the Editor

Memoto and Orwell's Telescreen



By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal


A tiny electronic device to be released on the consumer market early next year tracks nicely with the telescreen of George Orwell’s prophetic book, 1984. However, this device goes one step further in a way Orwell could not have even imagined.

1984, written in the 1940’s by a British Intelligence officer, predicts a totalitarian world where government has corrupted the language, forces its citizenry to believe lies as if they were truth and tracks everyone with ubiquitous “telescreens” that are extant in every home, place of business and public facility. Apartments for the citizens are designed with only one room and no other walls or partitions to divide the living space are allowed, so everyone there can be under the watchful eye of a government bureaucrat who can select any one person’s telescreen, or all of them in the country and bark out messages or have two way communications with them.

England already has telescreens installed in the homes of parents who accept government financial aid for their children, to help the government monitor whether or not they are raising their children “correctly.” Here in the U.S. we have installed a network of police traffic cameras that all connect in to the National Security Agency. We also have a version of the telescreen at Wal-Mart stores with Homeland “Security” secretary Janet Napolitano spewing out her diatribe about terrorism and extolling the virtues of ratting out your neighbor, friends or family if they may say something against the almighty and all knowing U.S. government. But wait, there’s more. All cell phones, laptop computers and personal devices with microphones and cameras in them are capable of being activated remotely by the NSA, FBI, CIA, etc. in order to spy on unsuspecting people without warrants (my laptop computer has a strip of black duct tape over the video camera and microphone). Public school administrators have also admitted to activating the cameras of their students’ laptop computers via the internet so they can spy on them while at home. Just when I thought the telescreen technology couldn’t get any worse, along comes a press release from a Swedish company named Memoto describing their personal camera that is designed to be worn on a shirt or jacket, much like a jewelry pin, recording photographs of everything the wearer observes throughout his whole life.

The press release describes the device, “At about the size of a postage stamp, the Memoto camera can be easily integrated into your daily life. The camera connects to your clothing with a small stainless steel metal clip, subtly capturing every special moment of your life as it's happening -- before you even realize how special it is. Its advanced software organizes the photos to work as a photographic memory that can be accessed at any time, even after many years, without the user ever feeling overwhelmed or disorganized.”

The pictures are then sent to a person’s computer where they are automatically uploaded to the company’s website. The press release goes on to say, “Once connected to a user’s computer, the Memoto camera will automatically begin uploading the photos taken to the Memoto Web Service. This web service with accompanying apps for iPhone and Android works very much like your own backup memory and catalogs the pictures (moments) by time, date, place and even lighting conditions that can be easily searched and shared.”

The Memoto camera is designed to capture a 5 megapixel image every thirty seconds. It logs GPS coordinates and a date/time stamp on every picture and even has an accelerometer so the pictures are oriented correctly regardless of how its worn.

Called “Lifelogging,” once these pictures are archived on “the cloud” they can be searched years later by the user. However, the government can also access these private pictures without search warrants—as they are already doing with cell phone conversations in real time (the cell phone may be off, but the government can turn it on remotely and listen to your private conversations in the room you’re in, even if you aren’t talking on the cell phone) and use the information gleaned from these data mines to prosecute unsuspecting people for crimes they may or may not have committed.

When I asked the company representative what kind of assurances they were offering to keep the pictures private and out of government hands I received no response.

At $199, the Memoto camera is a quasi-covert spy rig that the government is hoping people will purchase and use so they (the government) won’t have to work so hard or spend so much money spying on us, since we will be laying out the cash and doing all the work for them. We will in a sense be spying on ourselves.

The next step in this “telescreen” 2.0 technology will be a government mandate that everyone have a Memoto type device and that it will be able to carry two-way communications between the user and government via a permanently established internet link. Some communities in the country are already providing free Wi-Fi internet access to their citizens and this is expected to be the platform the government will use for the next generation of wearable telescreens.

So, Orwell’s predictions came true. But instead of a bulky, 60” wall-mounted telescreen in every room in the country, the telescreen will be the size of a postage stamp and be worn by every citizen under penalty of law.

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