An anonymous reader writes "After the past year's revelations about NSA spying, it's hard to read any commentary about society without dire warnings of the coming (or already present) surveillance state. Sci-fi author Ramez Naam makes the point that while government surveillance needs to be fought, it's actually not as bad as what we were promised in decades past. 'Aldous Huxley published Brave New World in 1932. And while Brave New World is remembered more for predicting government-controlled biological engineering of the masses, it also features government surveillance, media manipulation, and thought control. This is an old idea. Yet somehow, today, in most of the world, governments have dramatically less control over their people than they did when Huxley and Orwell wrote those words. Indeed, the average person on Earth is more free today, in 2014, than he or she would have been in the actual year 1984. The arc of history has bent towards more freedom.' Naam also explains that the technological advances allowing the bulk collection of personal data also provide us with cheap and easy means to fight government overreach."