'Big Brother' in a Post-Communist Era - A Radiography of the Protection of Private Life in an European Romania
April 20, 2012
Revue des Sciences Politiques, No. 35, 2012, pp. 330-351.
Reducing privacy to an insignificant value is one of the main faults of totalitarian regimes. It is maybe their most frustrating feature for the inner comfort of the individual who is under surveillance. The suspicion that his or her every move could be reported any time, registered and afterwards kept in a file to be judged by the arbitrary mechanisms of such a regime annihilates the manifestations of free will in all of its facets – freedom of speech, economical freedom, freedom to socially interact.
The feeling of being constantly under surveillance creates psychological discomfort and produces mutations in behavioral decisions. Maybe it is the annihilation of free will of the individual which decisively contributed to the fall of totalitarian regimes in the late ‘80s, as the individual desired to regain his or her privacy, to freely develop his or her personality, to fully enjoy his or her inherent liberties.
But the development of society paradoxically made privacy more threatened in a present dominated by democratic values, due to the spectacular development of technology. The Surveillance Society is more present in academic and social discourses than ever. But is it actually malefic in a democratic context? Is it not useful and necessary for preventing destructive actions such terrorism?
The answers to these questions are not at all simple. They should start with a few ideas, such as considering the democratic context as the one adding value to privacy. This time around, we are not evaluating privacy, but a right to privacy, guaranteed to individuals by established legal instruments. This paper aims to analyze the mechanisms of protecting private life in a post-communist Romania, underlying also the features of a new type of Surveillance Society.
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Date posted: April 22, 2012 ; Last revised: July 16, 2014