Orwell’s 1984 and the Privacy Law in the Netherlands

Pages: 6
Words: 1206


The context of the modern Netherlands and Europe, in general, is shrouded in the pathos of protecting personal information. Many people, unfortunately, do not realize that modern corporations can easily use their data, as users of social networks and the Internet are often indifferent to this. The central surveillance of people now takes place precisely in social networks and with the help of complex information technologies. It has become possible in recent years when social networks actively cover many people from different countries: from Canada to Malaysia. The main reasons for surveillance are to protect the state from terrorism or other serious crimes. However, it is crucial to understand that people’s data can often be used for advertising and imposing certain services.

Privacy Law in the Netherlands

All EU members should have similar principles for managing personal data. According to recent data, “At present, all the Member States of the European Union (EU) have their privacy law based on the European Privacy Directive of 1995” (Reitsma). Discrepancies are acceptable, but they must be recorded in the EU, and EU governance tends to universalize privacy law. This universalization is complicated, as different countries attract different investors, and cultures have their perceptions of personal security issues (one can compare the culture of Portugal and the Netherlands in this way).

Privacy Law and Business

Different businesses are subject to specific rules in the Netherlands, and if a particular investor wants to work here, they must pass a series of exams. Business people are offered a GDPR scan, or AVG scan, which will decide whether a business can access personal data and what rules the industry must follow, precisely, in general (Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO). If a company can use personal data, it is expressly prohibited from sharing it with others or partners. The company must obey both local laws and, in particular, those familiar to the EU.

Privacy Issues in Orwell’s 1984

The whole surveillance technology is called Big Brother, watching people forever. They do not have the opportunity to retire, talk to each other or engage in creativity. Winston, the main character, can only work, and relations with Julia, who confesses her love to him, become his salvation. Winston’s behavior, demonstrated in the quote, suggests that people can get used to any supervision and calm themselves with little by turning away or hiding. However, as the plot of the novel shows, this will not last long.

Loss of Identity

Total surveillance in Orwell echoes the idea that it is straightforward to lose identity in such a life, not being able to express yourself. It is what happens at the end of the novel with Winston, who, after brainwashing, has feelings only for the state, of Oceania. Constant surveillance is psychological violence against people, not easy manipulation. Moreover, Orwell’s idea of supervision is brought to a peak: “In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people’s windows” (Orwell 12).

The State

Total surveillance and brainwashing were aimed at protecting and supporting the state. Usually, the state-regulated family and sexual relations, allowing only particular citizens to become parents. People could not know the joys of motherhood or fatherhood since The Party destroyed their feelings. Orwell states that “It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their children” (1984 29). The Party could not trust anyone, and accordingly, people could not trust each other, and often this spoiled the relationship between parents.

Language: Newspeak

The aspect of language is essential, in general, in the issue of propaganda, although it is indirectly related to the problem of tracking. Orwell depicts in the text the creation of Newspeak, which is mechanistic and lacks emotion (Haque, 187-88). At the same time, he retains the function of supporting Big Brother and the pro-party: criticism in Newspeak is impossible, or at least severely punished. Orwell’s language problem echoes analytical philosophy, which postulates the inseparability of speech and consciousness. If people subordinate and change the language to the simplest mechanisms, consciousness also changes towards simplification. For citizens with an utterly subordinate consciousness, in the future, there is no need to monitor.


As mentioned above, Winston, in everyday life, can only come to terms with his position and live out of habit. Orwell conveys his thoughts: “You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized” (1954 17). The novel’s heroes understand that their every breath is recorded by cameras, wherever they are. Rebellion is punishable by torture and death, so the heroes cannot but obey to save their lives, even though they will never find happiness in such a life.

Violence and Torture Fuel Propaganda and Surveillance

A critical aspect that makes the topic of surveillance not applicable to privacy issues in the modern Netherlands is violence and torture. In the text, Orwell clearly states that the state is characterized by more than just intimidation or threats. Every citizen can check for himself how exactly the police can show him the righteousness of the ideas of the Party (Zeng). It gnaws at the citizens, and Vincent in particular, even more. After surviving the torture, there is no strength in him, and he accepts an entirely existing ideology imposed with extraordinary cruelty. Orwell thus demonstrates the unity of the human (or bodily, mortal) and the spiritual. Doctrine understands that it is necessary to influence the psyche and body of a person to enlist his inaction or support. Winston, who has survived torture, gives both his body and his mind to the good of the Party.

Modern Era of Information

It was hard for Orwell to predict the explosion of information technology; one cannot say that people force others to view information and visit sites. People are happy to register on social networks; they do not suffer from this. Some people do not notice the invasion of their privacy, even though it happens. People can even benefit from such an intrusion: the offered goods or services can help them solve actual problems. Some people exchange their data for a sense of security, especially in countries such as China (Zeng). Large flows of information allow people to ignore information about possible identity theft. We can say that the majority of people have changed their freedom and protection of personal data for a variety of services in the broad sense of the word.

Overall Relevance of Exploring the Novel

Through hyperbole and depiction of depressive motives, George Orwell shows what a police state based on brutality can look like. There is no place for personal data and secrets from the Party in this state. All inhabitants are only material for state needs: wars or maintaining internal order.

In light of the problem of privacy, George Orwell’s short story is considered very useful for study, as it demonstrates the mechanisms of destruction of the human psyche, devoid of personal space. Inner freedom usually gives a person hope and faith in the future, but he loses the meaning of life without it.


Haque, Bahalul. “Big Brother In―1984‖ & The Modern Era Surveillance.” International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research, vol. 8, 2019: pp. 186-190.

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO. “Protection of Personal Data.” Business.Gov.Nl, Web.

Orwell, George. 1984. Intra S.R.L.S., 2021.

Reitsma, Hidde. “New General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) in EU.” AMS Advocaten, Web.

Zeng, Jennifer. “The Future of Privacy and Cybersecurity.” Berkeley Scientific Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, 2018. Crossref.