I'm currently wading my way through the Royal Academy of Engineering's report on privacy and technology, and came across this interesting paragraph on the topic of Big Brother. Orwell's vision, the authors claim, is out of date, a relic of an obsolete political fear of malign governments:
"The danger more likely in present times is that if technology continues to evolve along current lines, 'Big Brother' will end up being more powerful than Orwell envisaged (in the sense that we will have far less individual privacy), though it may not be government that will be empowered. In a world of matchbox-sized camcorders and camera-phones, of always-on broadband and RFID, ordinary people (not a government agency, supermarket or the police) will be the nemesis of privacy. The Internet has the potential to democratise and decentralise Big Brother, as it democratises and decentralises many other phenomena; Big Brother may be 'us', not 'them'."
Now that is food for thought.