The passage in Little Brother that drew my attention the most was at the beginning of the book when Marcus and Darryl are escaping school. The emphasis on the face detection and gait detection that was used around the halls of the school for “protection” was something I could relate to. My Senior year of high school my school got a grant for around $80,000 to put in security cameras around the entire school, inside and out. (There was a small amount of irony in the grant because the money could only be put toward the security system. By the end of the year the school could not even afford standard school supplies like paper. I actually got extra credit in several classes for bringing stacks of paper for teachers to print the final on.) The idea of the security system was to protect students from unwanted intruders, however, the cameras are more often referenced to incriminate students leaving class during the day to go home or go out to lunch. I went to a standard public school of about 1,000 students in a town where the crime rate is lower than that of surrounding towns, not really a breeding ground for criminals. It was an extreme annoyance to not be allowed to leave school during the day. Marcus and Darryl’s struggle with leaving school is one that I can relate to, I have experienced a similar circumstance.
There needs to be a line drawn and a distinction made between measures taken to protect the citizenry (students in this situation), as opposed to measures taken to prosecute it. Certain trade offs have to be made, freedoms may be infringed upon slightly for the ultimate good, I am not complaining or arguing with that. However, omniscient observation is different than active investigation. When the daily activities of a person are substantially changed by a “protective” measure, then the PATRIOT Act has gone too far. An Orwellian future is unlikely, but the extreme picture of life painted in Little Brother is one that needs to be recognized in order to avoid it.