The United Nations is gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for its World Urban Forum 9 (WUF 9) to plot an Orwellian dystopia for our future.

Digital surveillance features prominently in this nightmare. 

Take a look at the video Debbie Bacigalupi shot of a UN presenter cheerfully showing off a system of digital surveillance for license plates and crowds.

Not so bad if our future urban masters are benign, but will they be?

While in many cities, of course, such surveillance is used to nab those speeding on highways (something which is already wildly unpopular). But of course the folks gathered at the World Urban Forum are pondering using surveillance for purposes far more sinister.

Hey, someone tossing a tin can in a paper recycling bin? We got ‘em! How about catching those using a plastic shopping bag, driving cars with elevated emissions, or eating red meat? No need for a court date, just send the person his ticket and photo. The possibilities are endless.

Think about it.  George Orwell envisioned each of us under constant video surveillance, yet he foresaw members of a “thought police” occasionally tuning in to watch.  Child’s play.

The governments of the Eastern bloc tried something like that last century.  They used microphones and a myriad of surveillance techniques to catch those who strayed from the tenets of Socialism.  It was brutal, and repressive, but the massive labor involved made it ultimately unwieldly.  When they tried to watch everyone, they ended up watching no one, except for a truly unfortunate minority.  They used neighbors informing on neighbors to fill in the gaps.

Artificial intelligence and digital storage are a Stasi man’s dream come true.  Modern technology makes it generally possible to monitor everyone, always.  Technology never tires.  It makes massive 24/7 monitoring a practical reality.  We joke about Amazon, Google or Facebook profiling our preferences and shopping habits and delivering opportunities to shop with uncannny precision.  It’s creepy, but not sinister.

Today, the UN has strayed from the noble principles set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.  Fostering individual rights and freedom is no longer its aim.  The UN bureaucracy sees individual choice, free markets in particular, as dangerous.  They view managing us through central planning and control as essential for the future.  They view 24/7 surveillance as a useful means to enforce their ends.

Take a look also at this second video Debbie shot of a UN presenter in Kuala Lumpur (an American) making a revealing slip in which she castigates former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for straying from Green orthodoxy.  “We need to assassinate,” ha ha, “not assassinate, deal with people like that.” 

Let’s face it.  This woman counts you and me among the people who need to be “dealt with.” 

At CFACT we love science and technology.  They are essential to the prosperous future of individual freedom and the sparkling clean environment for which we strive.

Massive surveillance technology in the hands of a politically correct UN bureaucracy taking us back to serfdom, however, is not quite the “future we want.” 


  • Craig Rucker

    Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.