The writer Gore Vidal noted with no little bitterness the changes that had occurred as the USA became more deeply committed to the Cold War. He summed them up in an essay called The National Security State. VIdal traced the emergence and development of practices that would previously never have been allowed, but were now in force on grounds of ‘national security’. Gore Vidal died this year and I’m sure he had plenty of time and occasion to ponder the emergence of the Surveillance Society, an offshoot of the National Security State, in which somebody is watching you, now matter where you are or what you’re doing. A great deal of the watching, however, is not being done by the State, but by commercial enterprises or local metropolitan authorities. Technology to do this is available and relatively cheap, especially when your friendly Homeland Security agency is picking up the check. So, poor slob that you are, your actions online are being tracked by software programs which note how many times you show interest in, say, German Expressionist movies, and then sells that information to Expressionism Are Us, so the company can tailor ads to pester you about whatever it is they’re selling. This non-governmental surveillance online is pervasive, and you, Joe Dolt, are in many databases. The cumulative effect is that a great deal of information is available about a great number of people. And the Organs of State Security can, and do, often, avail themselves of this data whenever it suits them. Two new wrinkles: transit authorities in various cities, from very large ones to burgs that barely maintain service, are installing video and audio surveillance systems in buses. The devices can record rider conversations as well as capture images of the passengers. And the Organs of State Security are paying for the installations. Next, the Federal Trade Commission is bestirring itself to look at the apps installed on kids’ games and similar products. These, too, are capturing data about the little tykes, in depths that range from the casual to the detailed. Names, addresses, GPS location,age, etc. The basis of the FTC’s action is that the companies are not being square with parents about the capture thingy. I hear the old Gestapo man’s justification: “if you have not done anything wrong, you have no reason to worry”. It seems that fewere and fewer Americans are, really, willing to tell the authorities to beat it, if that means some personal inconvenience. Freedom-loving?