An early Masonic version of the Eye of Providence

Big Brother is global surveillance in the Digital Age. "Global surveillance" was not widely acknowledged by governments and the mainstream media until the global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden triggered a debate about the right to privacy in the Digital Age.[1][2]

Totalitarian StateEdit

Big Brother

Media outlets that depict a Big Brother scenario, in a totalitarian State, usually identify it to the all-seeing eye, or the all-hearing ear of a despotic regime or police State. People often say "Big brother is watching you" in discussions about measures pressed by some authority that threaten the public's privacy.

The name Big Brother comes from a character in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is both the eyes and the voice of the political leader of the totalitarian State in which the main character Winston Smith lives.

Global surveillanceEdit

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Global Surveillance

Big Brother, as mass surveillance, is currently a global issue.[3] It is often criticized for violating privacy rights, limiting civil and political rights and freedoms, and being illegal under some legal or constitutional systems.

In 2013, the practice of mass surveillance by world governments was called into question after Edward Snowden‘s 2013 global surveillance disclosure. Reporting based on documents Snowden leaked to various media outlets triggered a debate about civil liberties and the right to privacy in the Digital Age.[4]

A growing concern is that an increase of mass surveillance could lead to the development of a surveillance State or an electronic police State where civil liberties are infringed or political dissent is undermined by COINTELPRO-like programs. Such a State could also be referred to as a totalitarian State.


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The Eye of Providence can be seen on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States

COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting American political organizations.[5] They also targeted what the FBI deemed as "subversive" activist groups and individuals,[6] most notoriously during civil rights movements.

See also Edit


  1. Zevenbergen, Bendert (3 December 2013). "Adventures in digital surveillance". European View. 12 (2): 223–233. doi:10.1007/s12290-013-0287-x. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  2. Ranger, Steve (24 March 2015). "The undercover war on your internet secrets: How online surveillance cracked our trust in the web". Tech Republic. Archived from the original on 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  3. Kuehn, Kathleen. The Post-Snowden Era: Mass Surveillance and Privacy in New Zealand. Bridget Williams Books. ISBN 9780908321087. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  4. Mark Hosenball and John Whitesides. "Reports on surveillance of Americans fuel debate over privacy, security". Reuters. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  5. Jalon, Allan M. (2006-03-08). "A break-in to end all break-ins; In 1971, stolen FBI files exposed the government's domestic spying program.". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-07-15
  6. Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (208). The FBI. Yale University Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780300142846.