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11/05/2006 - par Mark Tungate

For decades now, science fiction writers have imagined a world in which the government has unlimited ­access to our lives. From George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, right through to the Matrix trilogy and V For Vendetta, popular culture has expressed a visceral fear that, in the future, we will be constantly watched and manipulated by a superior power. So far, that hasn't happened. We are not pounced on by black-clad militia every time we stay out after midnight, drop litter, or kiss in public.

But it seems we are not happy with our liberty. ­Apparently the science fiction writers were not expressing an anxiety, but a desire. We want to be watched - or rather, we want to watch. It's no coincidence that a British reality TV show was called Big Brother. Or that Google Earth uses spy satellite technology.

Recently, George Clooney spoke out against a website called Gawker Stalker. Members of the public are encouraged to SMS sightings of celebrities to the site, so they can be tracked in real time. In other words, you can find out where George is having lunch, right now. Imagine how you'd feel if shadowy observers were texting your movements to one another ? Is that man on the bench watching you because you haven't paid your taxes ? But the State isn't behaving that way : we are. We are creating our own matrix, our own all-observing eye. Soon, we will be able to find out where anyone is, at any time. Welcome to the brave new world.

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