My topic is on Mass Surveillance and its affects on society. I focus mainly on government surveillance, but other types exist as well such as profit based website cookies. Recently the public has slowly been informed about the capabilities that the government and internet service providers have over the usage of your collected information. It is a topic in my mind that has just been barely touched on and needs more analysis. Technology and internet has become something so used that we do not go a day without it in our activities. This in turn means our day to day lives are recorded and analyzed without us even knowing or consenting. So this leads us to ask “Is there any privacy in the world anymore?”

 

Always being watched by someone, somewhere.

The article “Tracking Our Online Trackers” helps put in perspective for us exactly how and how much we are being tracked. Hopefully it will act as a wake up call. This is a ted talk that focuses on exactly how much we are being tracked. Collusion is the technology that the speaker came up with that tracks the websites or databases that are tracking your online activity. In one day the speaker showed how over 150 websites tracked and monitored his daughters patterns almost all had no consent (some websites ask if they can use cookies) from him and many were not even sites that he had visited. This author focuses on how the businesses have started to track us and our habits with and without our permission and knowledge. As you can see it affects us all personally, whether we are aware or not. This is the more commercial side of it in comparison to government surveillance. Now in the next source we find how the government is forcing the huge tech companies we thought had no correlation with the government into contracts.

Ted Talks are a great source for interesting topics presented by specialists. “Here’s how we take back the Internet” had Edward Snowden as a guest speaker. It provides inside Intelligence on undercover government run organizations and operations that are conducting mass surveillance on the public without their consent or knowledge. NSA are practically forcing large companies into contracts that let them gather data on the companies’ users some companies involved are; Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Youtube, and Skype. Not only can our government see a record of what you have searched, so can the Russian Intelligence, Chinese service, and etc. This is a rather frightening thought that every single thing you type into a search bar, every message you send, or receive can be saved somewhere. I used to think that it did not really matter to me but then I realized that it is not about what you put in there its about the fact that all this data especially communication between two people is not meant for anyone else’s eyes. The worst thing is that as of now the government agencies such as this one need practically nothing to access this information they gather and hold on you for years. Jumping off of that the government has been hacked before so their collection of my personal information is not only accessible to them but also to those who may not be looking out for us. Moving into the next ted talk we find that it is not only our country that is responsible for this.

Another TedTalk I found was with Christopher Soghoian called “Government surveillance this is just the beginning.” He talks about how authoritarian governments in other countries are buying surveillance capabilities to allow the governments to hack into individual’s computer. It can’t be proven that the US has bought these types of capabilities but there is an FBI team made specifically to hack into phones and laptops without the user knowing. The argument is that the public needs to be aware of this new technology. In my opinion something that would greatly help our progress with the lack of privacy in todays world would be open, truthful, and informed debates in order to control the threat against our freedoms. This kind of technology that we are letting build up could easily lead to abuse in power without close monitoring.

 

Snowden, hero or criminal?

Edward Snowden is a key contributor to the publics knowledge on the NSA and governments ability to monitor and track our every movements online and through our technology. As of today he is wanted for treason and conspiracy against the United States Government. He has been hiding in Russia since he leaked the news. In the documentary “State of Surveillance” it talks about the incident during the San Bernindino situation.  That gave proof to the boundaries the government is willing to overstep in the name of “safety”. Snowden claims that they have been capable of this for some time now. Snowden also performs in the video a dissection of the modern cell phone. During this he shows exactly how the government can hack into your own personal phone.

He has repeatedly discredited the NSA’s claims of how they are conducting their usage of such programs. For example, “In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are.” This was written in response to Snowden’s dramatic discoveries of the inner actions of NSA. Ordinary internet users are being intercepted through the NSA networkers and it outnumbers the amount of actual targets being monitored. This fact has been brought up because of the fact that “Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post.” Although the program was made with good intentions it should not be allowed to intrude on our rights.

WikiLeaks is a source that has been releasing classified intelligence along with Edward Snowden. However it is a slightly controversial source because it does not handle the material with care. For example it releases masses and masses of data that can be hard to interpret with out surrounding knowledge. It also has a tendency to release names of agents and mission which can put government workers in danger. “The Truth About the WikiLeaks CIA Cache:” The basis of the article was on the new information released by WikiLeaks on the CIA’s ability to hack into our communication networks. However the author found that the initial report they gave was some what false. It stated that certain apps, known for their secrecy, were capabable of government hacking. When more analyses was uncovered on the actual documents they released these apps were never specifically mentioned. This proves that although WikiLeaks may have good intentions its methods and quality of information are questionable.

 

Is government looking out for us?

The government has just recently been forced to respond to this growing issue because of sources such as Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. This first source shows how there is some division within the government about the views towards this issue. (NSA Surveillance Divides the Republican PartyThe faction of republicans under George W Bush is pushing for the continuation of mass surveillance. The opposing side thinks that this is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. RNC has declared domestic spying illegal. The resolution calls for a blatant take down of the NSA. This shows me both sides within my own political party and also emphasizes how the 9/11 attack played a major role in the acceptance of mass surveillance.

There has been some rulings passed since this initial topic was brought into the light. “N.S.A. Collection of Bulk Call Data Is Ruled Illegal” is an article that talks about a ruling made to try and go against the NSA’s programs for mass surveillance. The House of Representatives is formulating a bill (USA Freedom Act) that will limit the Patriot Acts reaches and keep it from violating US citizens rights. Some argue that the USA Freedom Act is extremely detrimental to the NSA processes and that it will be nearly impossible to find valuable information on potential threats to the country. However The Patriot bill was extended, with only some modifications.

There is still lots of things the government has yet to address when it comes to this growing issue.In the article, “From Facebook to Mug Shot: How the Dearth of Social Networking Privacy Rights Revolutionized Online Government Surveillance.” Federal Courts have yet to amend the Fourth Amendment to cover the world wide web. This brings to mind the question; how can the fourth amendment be changed to provide more guidelines for citizens right to privacy. This article focuses mainly on the online social media outlet Facebook. This prooves the need for us to update the fourth amendment to include our internet lifestyle.

 

Do you like to be watched?

So why Should We Even Care If the Government Is Collecting Our Data? The problem with mass surveillance doesn’t come from invasion of privacy, but more so from the power we are allowing our government to have over us. The author claims the argument many people use “this is a violation of our privacy,” doesn’t seem to move people against the topic of mass surveillance. Her examples come from the 3 books she pulls arguments from; 1984 (George Orwell), The Trial (Franz Kafka), and The Digital Person (Daniel Solove). (This is an argument that argues a different perspective on why we shouldn’t be ok with letting this surveillance continue.)