António Bento

António Bento is Assistant Professor of the University of Beira Interior since 1989. His research, of interdisciplinary root, focuses on communication, philosophy, politics and religion. His curriculum vitae is available on the website of IFP.


Orwell’s Police and Kafka’s Trial: Two Phantoms of Privacy

Assuming that the work knows some, which concept of privacy is that we deal with in Nineteen Eighty-Four? The fiction of George Orwell, taken in its facial value as hallucinatory description of a totalitarian political society – already lived and outdated, or non-experimented and yet to come – has something to tell us about what it means to live in a permanent state of exception served by advanced surveillance and control technologies? Why should we fear the effects of technology in the sphere of privacy? To what extent the effects of the surveillance and control of privacy technologies threaten the freedom of thought? We can draw some political lesson about the way we use today the surveillance and control technologies starting from an analysis of what might be called the audiovisual device of George Orwell: the telescreen and newspeak? Can an economic approach to the problem of surveillance and control technologies helps us to properly understand the operation of the two poles of privacy: the secret (the improbability of its communicability) and loneliness (the probability of their incommunicability)? Why the market of privacy requires economic blindness and a principle of opacity and invisibility, without which the economic value of privacy itself would disappear? Can something like privacy exists without a wall between the observers and the observed? Observe the observer to be observed and take privacy as an economic good. Can privacy, as the political economy wants it, be guided by a “invisible hand” of the market? What are the effects, unintended, but carried out, of the surveillance and control technologies on privacy? And what effects, intentional, but unaccomplished, of surveillance and control technologies on privacy?