World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Surveillance state

Article Id: WHEBN0003116745
Reproduction Date:

Title: Surveillance state  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: RIOT 111, Adam Kokesh, Police state
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Surveillance state

Mass surveillance is the pervasive surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population.[1] The surveillance is usually carried out by governments, often surreptitiously, but may also be done by corporations at the behest of governments or at their own initiative. It may or may not be legal and may or may not require authorization from a court or other independent agency.

Mass surveillance is often justified as necessary to fight terrorism, to prevent social unrest, to protect national security, to fight child pornography and protect children.

Mass surveillance is widely criticized as a violation of privacy rights, for limiting civil and political rights and freedoms, and for being illegal under some legal or constitutional systems. There is a fear that ever increasing mass surveillance will ultimately lead to a totalitarian state where political dissent is crushed by COINTELPRO-like programs. Such a state may also be referred to as a surveillance state or an electronic police state.

State enforced

Privacy International's 2007 survey, covering 47 countries, indicated that there had been an increase in surveillance and a decline in the performance of privacy safeguards, compared to the previous year. Balancing these factors, eight countries were rated as being 'endemic surveillance societies'. Of these eight, China, Malaysia and Russia scored lowest, followed jointly by Singapore and the United Kingdom, then jointly by Taiwan, Thailand and the United States. The best ranking was given to Greece, which was judged to have 'adequate safeguards against abuse'.[2]

Many countries throughout the world have already been adding thousands of surveillance cameras to their urban, suburban and even rural areas.[3][4] For example, in September 2007 the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that we are "in danger of tipping into a genuine surveillance society completely alien to American values" with "the potential for a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want."[5]

On 12 March 2013 Reporters Without Borders published a Special report on Internet Surveillance. The report included a list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. Five countries were placed on the initial list: Bahrain, China, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam.[6]


Bahrain is one of the five countries on Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. The level of Internet filtering and surveillance in Bahrain is one of the highest in the world. The royal family is represented in all areas of Internet management and has sophisticated tools at its disposal for spying on its subjects. The online activities of dissidents and news providers are closely monitored and the surveillance is increasing.[6]


China is one of the five countries on Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. All Internet access in China is owned or controlled by the state or the Communist Party. Many foreign journalists in China have said that they take for granted that their telephones are tapped and their email is monitored.[6]

The tools put in place to filter and monitor the Internet are collectively known as the Great Firewall of China. Besides the usual routing regulations that allow access to an IP address or a particular domain name to be blocked, the Great Firewall makes large-scale use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology to monitor and block access based on keyword detection. The Great Firewall has the ability to dynamically block encrypted connections. One of the country’s main ISPs, China Unicom, automatically cuts a connection as soon as it is used to transmit encrypted content.[6]

The monitoring system developed by China is not confined to the Great Firewall, monitoring is also built into social networks, chat services and VoIP. Private companies are directly responsible to the Chinese authorities for surveillance of their networks to ensure banned messages are not circulated. The QQ application, owned by the firm Tencent, allows the authorities to monitor in detail exchanges between Internet users by seeking certain keywords and expressions. The author of each message can be identified by his or her user number. The QQ application is effectively a giant Trojan horse. And since March 2012, new legislation requires all new users of micro-blogging sites to register using their own name and telephone number.[6]

Skype, one of the world’s most popular Internet telephone platforms, is closely monitored. Skype services in China are available through a local partner, the TOM media group. The Chinese-language version of Skype, known as TOM-Skype, is slightly different from the downloadable versions in other countries. A report by OpenNet Initiative Asia[7] says everyday conversations are captured on servers. Interception and storage of a conversation may be triggered by a sender’s or recipient’s name or by keywords that occur in the conversation.[8]

On 30 January, the New York Times reported that it had been the target of attacks by the Chinese government. The first breach took place on 13 September 2012 when the newspaper was preparing to publish an article about the fortune amassed by the family of outgoing Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The newspaper said the purpose of attacks was to identify the sources that supplied the newspaper with information about corruption among the prime minister’s entourage. The Wall Street Journal and CNN also said they had been the targets of cyber attacks from China. In February, Twitter disclosed that the accounts of some 250,000 subscribers had been the victims of attacks from China similar to those carried out on the New York Times. Mandiant, the company engaged by the NYT to secure its nework, identified the source of the attacks as a group of hackers it called Advanced Persistant Threat 1, a unit of the People’s Liberation Army operating from a 12-storey building in the suburbs of Shanghai that had hundreds, possibly thousands, of staff and the direct support of the Chinese government[6]

European Union

The legislative body of the European Union passed the Data Retention Directive on 15 December 2005. It requires that telecommunication operators retain metadata for telephone, Internet, and other telecommunication services for periods of not less than six months and not more than two years from the date of the communication as determined by each EU member state and, upon request, to make the data available to various governmental bodies. Access to this information is not limited to investigation of serious crimes, nor is a warrant required for access.[9][10]

Further information: Government databases and INDECT

Undertaken under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7 - Science in Society[11]) some multidisciplinary and mission oriented mass surveillance activities (for example INDECT and HIDE) are funded by the European Commission[12] in association with industrial partners.[13][14][15][16]

The INDECT Project ("Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment")[17] develops an intelligent urban environment observation system to register and exchange operational data for the automatic detection, recognition and intelligent processing of all information of abnormal behaviour or violence.[18][19]

The main expected results of the INDECT project are:

  • implementation of a distributed computer system that is capable of acquisition, storage and effective sharing on demand of the data
  • devices used for mobile object tracking
  • a search engine for fast detection of persons and documents based on watermarking technology used for semantic search
  • agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as CCTV, websites, Internet forums, usenet newsgroups, file servers, P2P networks and individual computer systems

The consortium HIDE ("Homeland Security, Biometric Identification & Personal Detection Ethics"), devoted to monitoring the ethical and privacy implications of biometrics and personal detection technologies and promoted by the European Commission develops ADABTS ("Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces"), a low-cost pro-active surveillance system.[20]

On 20 October 2013 a committee at the European Parliament backed a measure that, if it is enacted, would require American companies to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data. The legislation has been under consideration for two years. The vote is part of efforts in Europe to shield citizens from online surveillance in the wake of revelations about a far-reaching spying program by the U.S. National Security Agency.[21]


In 2002 German citizens were tipped off about wiretapping, when a software error led to a phone number allocated to the German Secret Service being listed on mobile telephone bills.[22]

East Germany

Before the Digital Revolution, one of the world's biggest mass surveillance operations was carried out by the Stasi, the secret police of the former East Germany. By the time the state collapsed in 1989, the Stasi had built up an estimated civilian network of 300,000 informants (approximately one in fifty of the population), who monitored even minute hints of political dissent among other citizens. Many West Germans visiting friends and family in East Germany were also subject to Stasi spying, as well as many high-ranking West German politicians and persons in the public eye.

Most East German citizens were well aware that their government was spying on them, which led to a culture of mistrust: touchy political issues were only discussed in the comfort of their own four walls and only with the closest of friends and family members, while widely maintaining a façade of unquestioning followership in public.


The Indian parliament passed the Information Technology Act of 2008 with no debate, giving the government fiat power to tap all communications without a court order or a warrant. Section 69 of the act states "Section 69 empowers the Central Government/State Government/ its authorized agency to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource if it is necessary or expedient so to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or for investigation of any offence."

India is setting up a national intelligence grid called NATGRID,[23] which would be fully set up by May 2011 where each individual's data ranging from land records, internet logs,air and rail PNR, phone records, gun records, driving license, property records, insurance, and income tax records would be available in real time and with no oversight.[24] With a UID from the Unique Identification Authority of India being given to every Indian from February 2011, the government would be able track people in real time. A national population registry of all citizens will be established by the 2011 census, during which fingerprints and iris scans would be taken along with GPS records of each household.[25][26]

As per the initial plan, access to the combined data will be given to 11 agencies, including the Research and Analysis Wing, the Intelligence Bureau, the Enforcement Directorate, the National Investigation Agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Narcotics Control Bureau.


Iran is one of the five countries on Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. The government runs or controls almost all of the country’s institutions for regulating, managing or legislating on telecommunications. The Supreme Council for Cyberspace, which was headed by President Ahmadinejad, was established in March 2012 and now determines digital policy. The construction of a parallel "Iranian Internet", with a high connection speed but fully monitored and censored, is almost complete.[6]

The tools used by the Iranian authorities to monitor and control the Internet include data interception tools capable of Deep Packet Inspection. Interception products from leading Chinese companies such as ZTE and Huawei are in use. The products provided by Huawei to Mobin Net, the leading national provider of mobile broadband, can be used to analyze email content, track browsing history and block access to sites. The products that ZTA sold to the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) offer similar services plus the possibility of monitoring the mobile network. European companies are the source of other spying and data analysis tools. Products designed by Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks (later Trovicor) are in use. These companies sold SMS interception and user location products to Mobile Communication Company of Iran and Irancell, Iran’s two biggest mobile phone companies, in 2009 and they were used to identify Iranian citizens during the post-election uprising in 2009. The use of Israeli surveillance devices has also been detected in Iran. The network traffic management and surveillance device NetEnforcer was provided by Israel to Denmark and then resold to Iran. Similarly, US equipment has found its way to Iran via the Chinese company ZTE.[6]


According to a 2004 report, the government of the Netherlands carries out more clandestine wire-taps and intercepts than any country, per capita, in the world.[27] The Netherlands is host to an unknown number of SIGINT radomes as part of the ECHELON program run by the NSA.


The SORM (and SORM-2) laws enable complete monitoring of any communication, electronic or traditional, by eight state agencies, without warrant. These laws seem to be in conflict with Article 23 of the Constitution of Russia which states:[28]

  1. Everyone shall have the right to the inviolability of private life, personal and family secrets, the protection of honour and good name.
  2. Everyone shall have the right to privacy of correspondence, of telephone conversations, postal, telegraph and other messages. Limitations of this right shall be allowed only by court decision.


In 2008 a law was passed allowing warrantless wiretapping of all communications (including internet and telephone calls) crossing the border. This law went to effect on 1 December 2009 when all affected ISPs had to provide a copy of border crossing traffic to the authorities. While it is believed that other states have similar wiretapping programs, Sweden is the first nation to publicize it.

Due to the architecture of internet backbones in the Nordic area, a large portion of Norwegian and Finnish traffic will also be affected by the Swedish wiretapping.


Syria is one of the five countries on Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. Syria has stepped up its web censorship and cyber-monitoring as the country’s civil war has intensified. At least 13 Blue Coat proxy servers are in use, Skype calls are intercepted, and social engineering techniques, phishing, and malware attacks are all in use.[6]

United Kingdom

Main article: Mass surveillance in the United Kingdom

At the end of 2006, the United Kingdom was described by the Surveillance Studies Network as being 'the most surveilled country' among the industrialized Western states.[29][30] A YouGov poll published on 4 December 2006, indicated that 79% of those interviewed agreed that Britain has become a 'surveillance society’ (51% were unhappy with this).[4] On 6 February 2009 a report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Surveillance: Citizens and the State,[31] warned that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies was a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights, stating, "The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country."[32]

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIP or RIPA) is an Act granting and regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation. Included is the interception of the content of telephone, Internet, and postal communications; collection of information about, but not the content of, telephone, Internet, and postal communications (type of communication, caller and called telephone numbers, Internet addresses, domain names, postal addresses, date, time, and duration); use of agents, informants, undercover officers; electronic surveillance of private buildings and vehicles; following people; and gaining access to encrypted data.[33]

In 2002 it was estimated[34] that the United Kingdom was monitored by over 4.2 million CCTV cameras, some with a facial recognition capacity, with practically all cities and towns under 24-hour surveillance. However, some have strongly condemned the assumptions behind that estimate, noting that it involved the extrapolation of observation from one 1.5 km long street in Putney, London to the entire population of the UK.[35]

Across the country efforts have been increasingly under way to track closely all road vehicle movements, initially using a nationwide network of roadside cameras connected to automatic number plate recognition systems. These have tracked, recorded, and stored the details of all journeys undertaken on major roads and through city centres and the information is stored for five years.[36][37]

In 2002 the UK government announced plans to extend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), so that at least 28 government departments would be given powers to browse citizens' web, e-mail, telephone and fax records, without a warrant and without a subject's knowledge.[38] Public and security authorities made a total of 440,000 requests to monitor people's phone and internet use in 2005-2006.[39] In the period 11 April to 31 December 2006 the UK government issued 253,557 requests for communication data, which as defined by the RIPA includes who you phoned, when they phoned you, how long they phoned you for, subscriber information and associated addresses.[40]

Since October 2007 telecommunication companies have been required to keep records of phone calls and text messages for twelve months under the Data Retention Directive.[41][42]

UK government databases hold records of 5.5 million fingerprints and over 3.4 million DNA samples on the National DNA Database. There is increasing use of roadside fingerprinting, using new police powers to check identity.[43] Concerns have been raised over the unregulated use of biometrics in schools, affecting young children.[44]

On 21 December 2010 the Identity Documents Act 2010 received Royal Assent.[45] The Act repealed the Identity Cards Act 2006,[46] scrapping the mandatory ID card scheme and associated National Identity Register that had been in use on a limited or voluntary basis since November 2008, but which was never fully implemented.[47][48][49]

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes several provisions related to the collection, storage, retention, and use of information in government databases.[50]

The UK is a member of the European Union, participates in its programs, and is subject to EU policies and directives, including the Data Retention Directive, the INDECT Project ("Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment"),[51][52][53] the HIDE ("Homeland Security, Biometric Identification and Personal Detection Ethics") consortium, and ADABTS ("Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces").[54]

United States

Main article: Mass surveillance in the United States

Template:NSA surveillance

Historically, mass surveillance was used as part of wartime censorship to control communications that could damage the war effort and aid the enemy. For example, during the world wars, every international telegram from or to the United States sent through companies such as Western Union was reviewed by the US military. After the wars were over, surveillance continued in programs such as the Black Chamber following World War I and project Shamrock following World War II.[55] COINTELPRO projects conducted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 1956 and 1971 targeted various "subversive" organizations, including peaceful anti-war and racial equality activists such as Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr.

Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, ECHELON, and NarusInsight to intercept and analyze the immense amount of data that traverses the Internet and telephone system every day.[56]

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a vast domestic intelligence apparatus has been built to collect information using NSA, FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators. The intelligence apparatus collects, analyzes and stores information about millions of (if not all) American citizens, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.[57][58]

Under the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, the U.S. Postal Service photographs the exterior of every piece of paper mail that is processed in the United States — about 160 billion pieces in 2012. The U.S. Postmaster General stated that the system is primarily used for mail sorting, but the images are available for possible use by law enforcement agencies.[59] Created in 2001 following the anthrax attacks that killed five people, it is a sweeping expansion of a 100 year old program called "mail cover" which targets people suspected of crimes.[60]

The FBI developed the computer programs "Magic Lantern" and CIPAV, which they can remotely install on a computer system, in order to monitor a person's computer activity.[61]

The NSA has been gathering information on financial records, Internet surfing habits, and monitoring e-mails. They have also performed extensive analysis of social networks such as Myspace.[62]

The PRISM special source operation system legally immunized private companies that cooperate voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 "specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant" when one of the parties is outside the U.S.[63] PRISM was first publicly revealed on 6 June 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden.

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) requires that all U.S. telecommunications and Internet service providers modify their networks to allow easy wiretapping of telephone, VoIP, and broadband Internet traffic.[64][65][66]

In early 2006, USA Today reported that several major telephone companies were providing the telephone call records of U.S. citizens to the National Security Agency (NSA), which is storing them in a large database known as the NSA call database. This report came on the heels of allegations that the U.S. government had been conducting electronic surveillance of domestic telephone calls without warrants.[67] In 2013, the existence of the Hemisphere Project, through which AT&T provides telephone call data to federal agencies, became publicly known.

Traffic cameras, which were meant to help enforce traffic laws at intersections, may be used by law enforcement agencies for purposes unrelated to traffic violations.[68] Some cameras allow for the identification of individuals inside a vehicle and license plate data to be collected and time stamped for cross reference with other data used by police.[69] The Department of Homeland Security is funding networks of surveillance cameras in cities and towns as part of its efforts to combat terrorism.[70]

The New York City Police Department infiltrated and compiled dossiers on protest groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention, leading to over 1,800 arrests.[71]


Vietnam is one of the five countries on Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 list of "State Enemies of the Internet", countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. Most of the country’s 16 service providers are directly or indirectly controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party. The industry leader, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, which controls 74 per cent of the market, is state-owned. So is Viettel, an enterprise of the Vietnamese armed forces. FPT Telecom is a private firm, but is accountable to the Party and depends on the market leaders for bandwidth.[6]

Service providers are the major instruments of control and surveillance. Bloggers monitored by the government frequently undergo man-in-the-middle attacks. These are designed to intercept data meant to be sent to secure (https) sites, allowing passwords and other communication to be intercepted.[6] According to a July 2012 Freedom House report, 91 per cent of survey respondents connected to the Internet on their mobile devices and the government monitors conversations and tracks the calls of "activists" or "reactionaries."[72]

Commercial mass surveillance

Template:See As a result of the digital revolution, many aspects of life are now captured and stored in digital form. Concern has been expressed that governments may use this information to conduct mass surveillance on their populations. Commercial mass surveillance often makes use of copyright laws and "user agreements" to obtain (typically uninformed) 'consent' to surveillance from consumers who use their software or other related materials. This allows gathering of information which would be technically illegal if performed by government agencies. This data is then often shared with government agencies - thereby - in practice - defeating the purpose of such privacy protections.

One of the most common forms of mass surveillance is carried out by commercial organizations. Many people are willing to join supermarket and grocery loyalty card programs, trading their personal information and surveillance of their shopping habits in exchange for a discount on their groceries, although base prices might be increased to encourage participation in the program. Since a significant proportion of purchases are carried out by credit or debit cards, which can also be easily tracked, it is questionable whether loyalty cards provide any significant additional privacy threat.

Through programs like Google's AdSense, OpenSocial and their increasing pool of so-called "web gadgets", "social gadgets" and other Google-hosted services many web sites on the Internet are effectively feeding user information about sites visited by the users, and now also their social connections, to Google. Facebook also keep this information, although its acquisition is limited to page views within Facebook. This data is valuable for authorities, advertisers and others interested in profiling users, trends and web site marketing performance. Google, Facebook and others are increasingly becoming more guarded about this data as their reach increases and the data becomes more all inclusive, making it more valuable.[73]

New features like geolocation give an even increased admission of monitoring capabilities to large service providers like Google, where they also are enable to track one's physical movements while users are using mobile devices, especially those which are syncing without any user interaction. Google's Gmail service is increasingly employing features to work as a stand-alone application which also might activate while a web browser is not even active for synchronizing; a feature mentioned on the Google I/O 2009 developer conference while showing the upcoming HTML5 features which Google and others are actively defining and promoting.[74]

In 2008 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, said: "The arrival of a truly mobile Web, offering a new generation of location-based advertising, is set to unleash a 'huge revolution'".[75] At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 16 February 2010, Google presented their vision of a new business model for mobile operators and trying to convince mobile operators to embrace location-based services and advertising. With Google as the advertising provider, it would mean that every mobile operator using their location-based advertising service would be revealing the location of their mobile customers to Google.[76]


Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are constantly informing users on the importance of privacy, and considerations about technologies like geolocation.

Computer company Microsoft patented in 2011 a product distribution system with a camera or capture device that monitors the viewers that consume the product, allowing the provider to take "remedial action" if the actual viewers do not match the distribution license.[77]

Reporters Without Borders' March 2013 Special report on Internet Surveillance contained a list of "Corporate Enemies of the Internet", companies that sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information. The five companies on the initial list were: Amesys (France), Blue Coat Systems (U.S.), Gamma (UK and Germany), Hacking Team (Italy), and Trovicor (Germany), but the list was not exhaustive and is likely to be expanded in the future.[6]

Surveillance state

A surveillance state is a country where the government engages in pervasive surveillance of large numbers of its citizens and visitors. Such widespread surveillance is usually justified as being necessary to prevent crime or terrorism, but may also be used to stifle criticism of and opposition to the government.

Examples of early surveillance states include the former Soviet Union and the former East Germany, which had a large network of informers and an advanced technology base in computing and spy-camera technology.[78] But these states did not have today's technologies for mass surveillance, such as the use of databases and pattern recognition software to cross-correlate information obtained by wire tapping, including speech recognition and telecommunications traffic analysis, monitoring of financial transactions, automatic number plate recognition, the tracking of the position of mobile telephones, and facial recognition systems and the like which recognize people by their appearance, gait, etc.

More recently, the United Kingdom is seen as a pioneer of mass surveillance. At the end of 2006 it was described by the Surveillance Studies Network as 'the most surveilled country' among the industrialized Western states.[79]

Many advanced nation-states have implemented laws that partially protect citizens from unwarranted intrusion - such as the Data Protection Act 1998 in the United Kingdom, and laws that require a formal warrant before private data may be gathered by a government.

Electronic police state

An electronic police state is a state in which the government aggressively uses electronic technologies to record, collect, store, organize, analyze, search, and distribute information about its citizens.[80][81] Electronic police states also engage in mass government surveillance of landline and cellular telephone traffic, mail, email, web surfing, Internet searches, radio, and other forms of electronic communication as well as widespread use of video surveillance. The information is usually collected in secret.

Electronic police states may be either dictatorial or democratic. The crucial elements are not politically based, so long as the government can afford the technology and the populace will permit it to be used, an electronic police state can form. The continual use of electronic mass surveillance can result in constant low-level fear within the population, which can lead to self-censorship and exerts a powerful coercive force upon the populace.[82]

Seventeen factors for judging the development of an electronic police state were suggested in The Electronic Police State: 2008 National Rankings:[81]

  • Daily documents: Requirement for the use and tracking of state-issued identity documents and registration.
  • Border and travel control: Inspections at borders, searching computers and cell phones, demanding decryption of data, and tracking travel within as well as to and from a country.
  • Financial tracking: A state’s ability to record and search all financial transactions: checks, credit cards, wires, etc.
  • Gag orders: Restrictions on and criminal penalties for the disclosure of the existence of state surveillance programs.
  • Anti-crypto laws: Outlawing or restricting cryptography and/or privacy enhancing technologies.
  • Lack of constitutional protections: A lack of constitutional privacy protections or the routine overriding of such protections.
  • Data storage: The ability of the state to store the data gathered.
  • Data search: The ability to organize and search the data gathered.
  • Data retention requirements: Laws that require Internet and other service providers to save detailed records of their customers’ Internet usage for a minimum period of time.
  • Telephone data retention requirements: Laws that require telephone companies to record and save records of their customers’ telephone usage.
  • Cell phone data retention requirements: Laws that require cellular telephone companies to record and save records of their customers’ usage and location.
  • Medical records: Government access to the records of medical service providers.
  • Enforcement: The state’s ability to use force to seize anyone they want, whenever they want.
  • Lack of habeas corpus: Lack of a right for a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court in a timely fashion or the overriding of such rights.
  • Lack of a police-intel barrier: The lack of a barrier between police organizations and intelligence organizations, or the overriding of such barriers.
  • Covert hacking: State operatives collecting, removing, or adding digital evidence to/from private computers without permission or the knowledge of the computers' owners.
  • Loose or no warrants: Arrests or searches made without warrants or without careful examination and review of police statements and justifications by a truly independent judge or other third-party.

The list includes factors that apply to other forms of police states, such as the use of identity documents and police enforcement, but go considerably beyond them and emphasize the use of technology to gather and process the information collected.

Literature and movies

Critical of mass surveillance

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel by George Orwell depicting life under an omnipresent totalitarian state, and is probably the most prominent of the media listed; the 'Big Brother' who watches over the novel's characters is now used to describe any form of spying on or interfering with the public, such as CCTV cameras.
  • We, a 1920 novel by Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin, that predates Nineteen Eighty-Four and was read by its author George Orwell.
  • Peter Jackson's movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, depicts the all-seeing Eye of Sauron.[83][84]
  • The Transparent Society by David Brin, discusses various scenarios for the future considering the spread of cheap web-cameras, increases in government security initiatives, and the possible death of encryption if quantum computing becomes reality.
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, set in San Francisco after a major terrorist attack; the DHS uses technologies such as RFIDs and surveillance cameras to create a totalitarian system of control.
  • The Minority Report, a story by Philip K. Dick about a society that arrests people for crimes they have yet to commit (made into a movie in 2002).
  • A Scanner Darkly, another novel by Philip K. Dick, examines how close we are as a society to complete surveillance by law enforcement.
  • THX 1138, a 1971 film by George Lucas depicting life in an underground dystopia where all human activities are monitored centrally at all times. A high level of control is exerted upon the populace through ever-present faceless, android police officers and mandatory, regulated use of special drugs to suppress emotion, including sexual desire. The film was first made as a student project in the University of Southern California and called Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB.
  • Oath of Fealty, a 1982 novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle describing a large arcology whose dwellers and visitors are constantly being of surveilled by a variety of technologies
  • Blue Thunder, 1983 movie starring Roy Scheider
  • Brazil, a film by Terry Gilliam depicting an oppressive total information awareness society
  • American Civil Liberties Union depicting ordering pizza by phone in a Total Surveillance Society.
  • Discipline and Punish by the critical theorist Michel Foucault is generally taken as being one of the paradigmatic works on theories of surveillance and discipline
  • Equilibrium, 2002 film wherein a dystopian future society surviving the third world war takes an emotion-suppressing drug and where the general public is constantly watched by the government to make sure that no one breaks the equilibrium.
  • V for Vendetta
  • Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance and the Culture of Control by Social and Environmental philosopher, Derrick Jensen thoroughly examines the use of RFID chips, nanotechnology, military technology, science, and surveillance.[85]
  • The Listening, a 2006 movie in which a rogue NSA employee fights against the agency's Echelon system and one of its corporate partners.
  • Eagle Eye, a 2008 movie which portrays how surveillance can get out of hand.
  • The Lives of Others, the 2006 German drama film, movingly conveys the terrible impact that constant surveillance has on the emotional wellbeing and life prospects of those subjected to it.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies, the eighteenth film in the James Bond series. The plot revolves around the ruthless Murdochesque media baron, Elliot Carver, whose newspapers print false stories that are related to Carver's secret agenda. A clear sign of his vanity and a reference to Big Brother, much of Carver's headquarters in Hamburg is decorated with vast, imposing banners, with Carver's face glaring out.
  • Enemy of the State, a 1998 film starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman, portrays an attorney who is the target of an NSA cover-up related to a bill in Congress that would expand the federal government's surveillance powers.
  • The Dark Knight, the 2008 summer blockbuster delved into whether the public security against the Joker's actions warranted Batman's mass scale spying on Gotham City's citizens using cell phone technology. Lucius Fox, Morgan Freeman's character, threatened to quit Wayne Enterprises over Batman's private surveillance of Gotham claiming that no one man should possess such power. However the hero of the movie, Batman, claimed that mass surveillance of citizens was vital to fight "terrorism". Batman came to Lucius opinion at the end of the film, when he destroyed the surveillance system.[86]
  • The Last Enemy, a 2008 5 episode BBC television series which dealt with Total Information Awareness monitoring of near-future Britain, and the Government's use of race-specific remote drugs which could be triggered to affect one population, but not the other.[87]
  • Person of Interest, a current CBS TV series that first aired in September 2011 that depicts a machine which spies on each citizen of the United States. The Machine makes extensive use of surveillance cameras, telephone conversations, internet usage, public records, satellite-driven technology and virtually any mean of physical/digital communication. It does so automatically, without any human interventions (only seven people in the world are aware of its existence). The Machine has the purpose of preventing terrorist attacks, but it sees crimes involving ordinary citizens. It provides the authorities with the SSN of the person of interest, which is either a target or a perpetrator. The NSA has been trying to access the Machine but the software is so well encrypted that no operating system can crack it. Harold Finch is convinced that the government would abuse the Machine if they can access it, and he vows to make sure that no one else gets hold of the Machine. In one episode, an employee of the NSA discovered the existence of the Machine and a black ops unit is ordered to kill him.[88]

Praising mass surveillance

  • The Light of Other Days is a science-fiction book that praises mass surveillance, under the condition that it is available to everyone. It shows a world in which a total lack of privacy results in a decrease in corruption and crime.
  • Digital Fortress, novel by Dan Brown, involving an NSA codebreaking machine called 'TRANSLTR', reading and decrypting email messages, with which the NSA allegedly foiled terrorist attacks and mass murders.
  • Déjà Vu (2006 film) is a movie in which a supercomputer synthesizes multiple Closed Circuit TV and Satellite images from 24 hours in the past into a single framework.

See also


External links

  • "The State and Surveillance: Fear and Control", Didier Bigo and Mireille Delmas-Marty, La Clé des Langues, 23 September 2011, ISSN 2107-7029.

Template:Intelligence agencies of USA

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.