2 Comm. Law. 1 (1984)

handle is hein.journals/comlaw2 and id is 1 raw text is: PUbhication of the Forum Committee
on Communicati Lw
Arnerican Ba- Associaltion Ly     e   r
Voime 2. Numoer  Winter i984
NMII

Orwell Was Wrong!
Personal Privacy and Human
Dignity Still Exist in 1984
BY CHARLES W JOINER

hirty-five years ago, the British novelist and essayist
eorge Orwell foresaw a world in which a totalitar-
ian regime would harness the powers of technology to
completely subvert the auton-
omy of its subjects. Orwell
saw two forces converg-
ing to destroy human
dignity as a re-
sult of loss
of privacy.
First, he   pro-
jected an explosion
of science that per-
mitted personal
privacy to be
destroyed. Sec-
ond, he sug-
gested     a
breakdown
in morality,
permitting
the im-
moral
and
intemperate use of science to
control the lives of others.
Orwell has largely been
proved right, in effect if not
in detail, in his prediction of
scientific ability to invade
the privacy of others. He was
accurate when he described
that modern man can create
machines that can see into every nook and cranny of what
were heretofore private domains, that can record every
sound and transmit it surreptitiously to listeners in distant
places, and that can store vast amounts of information in
a manner that makes it readily accessible and malle-

abie by those who control these devices. He failed,
however, to anticipate the response of modern man to
this onslaught of intrusive ability. Man is made of
sterner stuff than Orwell pre-
dicted. Man
has
fought to
protect
his auto-
nomy.
Man began
the develop-
ment of ways
and means
through law
to control the
intru-
sion on
his pri-
vacy.
My thesis
issimple. The
ability  to  in-
vade privacy
generated by the new
devices of the past thirty-five
years has forced us, through
the law, to face issues we
never anticipated before,
much less faced. Before
science made it possible for
us to intrude into the per-
sonal privacy of others, we
had developed mechanical means of protecting
privacy. We ran away. We hid. We pulled blinds. We
built walls. With the advent of Orwellian science we
began to debate the ethics and morality of autonomy
and privacy. We began to develop legal solutions to
(Continued on page 16)

U aho- 0 JOSp0 ('0OC

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