Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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“It Was a Cold Bright Day in April and the Clocks Were Striking Thirteen.”

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | April 7, 2018

No. 1,463

The first words of Orwell’s great masterpiece, “1984”.

It could have been a day like today, also cold, bright and in April.

Image: interesting literature.com

I’ve often thought that this book played a decisive role in shaping post-WWII Western society.  We didn’t want to live in that World and we didn’t want to be Winston Smith.  And so it didn’t happen.

Or did it?

Is Big Brother watching us this cold bright day in April?

Instead of watching us through the television, Big Brother watches us as we navigate the internet. Once it was a chilling thought, but we’ve gradually gotten used to it. So what if Google knows what I search for on the internet?  So what if Facebook knows what I tell my friends?  So what if I am constantly besieged with suggestions from Amazon regarding my next purchase?  I don’t have to buy anything. What makes them think they can get in my mind and sell me something I wouldn’t buy anyway?

After all, I don’t pay anything for access to the World Wide Web.  Nothing except a certain modicum of privacy. And what’s that worth? There’s nothing particularly salacious about my life.  They can pry all they want.

And then the moment of truth arrives.  Those political ads were tailored to preferences I expressed by my keystrokes.  Maybe it didn’t make any difference.  Maybe it didn’t change my thinking.  After all, I think for myself, right?

And its not just Google that knows all this information.  It ends up in the hands of all kinds of people — some of whom we know, while others are strangers. What should we do now?  Is it too late?

And so, it turns out that we’ve all been taken out to a free lunch.  But we paid the tab after all because our lunch partner turned out to be in the data mining business.  Don’t look so surprised.  You enjoyed the lunch, didn’t you?

We began with the firsts words of 1984.  So here’s the last sentence: “He loved Big Brother.”




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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