It’s big news these days – after all, it was only yesterday that MI5 was revealed to have been storing phone data for the last 10 years. The impact of the surveillance state is barely understood by most of us – but some had the genius and foresight to be way ahead of the game. Especially Marshall McLuhan. His The Medium is the Massage was published way back in 1967! In it, he wrote this:

‘Electrical information devices for universal, tyrannical womb-to-tomb surveillance are causing a very serious dilemma between our claim to privacy and the community’s need to know. The older, traditional ideas of private, isolated thoughts and actions…are very seriously threatened by new methods of instantaneous electric information retrieval, by the electrically computerized dossier bank – that one big gossip column that is unforgiving, unforgetful and from which there is no redemption, no erasure of early “mistakes”.

As I wrote back in 2010, Quod Scripsi, Scripsi.

1200px-National_Reconnaissance_Office,_2013.jpg

"National Reconnaissance Office, 2013" by Trevor Paglen - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

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