Censorship

The theme of censorship plays a heavy role in the novel Little Brother. Many people are accustomed to reading books about censorship with regards to literature- this novel, however, discusses the somewhat undiscovered world of internet censorship. However, we can still draw a parallel between Little Brother and some great literary works in the past- an example with regards to censorship would be the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which introduces the concept of a world without books. Although the form of censorship is very extreme in Ray Bradbury’s novel, Little Brother echoes its somewhat dystopian society.

After Marcus is tortured and interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security, he returns to San Francisco to find his home to be a virtual base for the DHS, and as he finds out later, the organization is tracking the internet usage of San Francisco citizens, and detaining them if they even come close to browsing pages on “controversial topics” such as security systems or communicating with large groups of people. Thus, their freedom of expression is limited, as they mightn’t feel comfortable having someone read their posts and view their history.

This is evident in the following excerpt from the book: “My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me” (Doctorow, 88). In the passage, Marcus is outlining the difference between the ParanoidXbox system he created and his regular computer, which is being monitored by the DHS. He also inadvertently points out what the DHS should be doing- working for him, and protecting him- rather than spying on him. This passage also shows that the only way Marcus truly feels comfortable about using the web is by creating his own undiscoverable system.

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