Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden leaked secret files about surveillance systems used by US intelligence (Guardian)

Sales of George Orwell's 1984 have shot up following revelations that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) is accessing data on people around the world.

Sales of Orwell's novel have risen by 6,000% since the Guardian revealed the allegations of former NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden.

In the dystopian novel, all citizens are constantly spied on by an inner elite party in the government.

Banners reading "Big Brother Is Watching You" cover the city and citizens are monitored by the Thought Police, who punish people for independent thinking.

After Snowden leaked the top secret files relating to the Washington's highly confidential Prism programme, questions have been raised about the ethical implications of the surveillance.

Big Brother
Orwell's novel saw citizens constantly monitored by the government (wiki commons)

City AM editor Allister Heath said: "The balance between government and individuals has been surreptitiously changed and questions must be asked about who is monitoring those at the highest levels of government.

"There are endless instances of officials abusing their powers in a scandalous fashion," he wrote.

"The state would reduce crime if it introduced hidden microphones in every home, and tapped every conversation in every pub, in every car and train, and in every workplace - but the costs to privacy would be unacceptable. We would no longer be a free society.

"So here is the challenge: we need to rediscover libertarian principles while simultaneously taking security concerns seriously. Do I know what the detailed solution should look like? No, but it is clear that the current road won't lead us anywhere pleasant."

The whereabouts of Snowden are unknown. He is believed to have left the hotel where he was staying in Hong Kong. In his interview with the Guardian, the Hawaiian said he did not "expect to see home again".

George Orwell
Orwell's book ends with Winston Smith loving the regime (wiki commons)

While the White House has not made an official statement on the NSA Prism program or Snowden's revelations, US authorities are calling for his extradition and are preparing charges against the former CIA employee.

"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant," he said.

While Snowden's faces an unknown future, for Orwell's protagonist Winston Smith, the end is bleak. The book concludes: "He gazed up at the enormous face [of Big Brother]. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache.

"O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

Must read: Edward Snowden and Prism: Everything You Need to Know About NSA Spying Scandal