Mass Surveillance is Getting Worse (And You Are the Target)
Do you ever get that uneasy feeling that something bad is happening and there’s not much you can do about it?
Have you noticed the increasing surveillance measures unfolding around the world?
You should take notice, because you are the target.
Surveillance technology is pervasive in our society today, leading to fierce debate between proponents and opponents. Government surveillance, in particular, has been brought increasingly under public scrutiny, with proponents arguing that it increases security, and opponents decrying its invasion of privacy. Since the Snowden leaks, critics have loudly accused governments of employing surveillance technologies that sweep up massive amounts of information, intruding on the privacy of millions, but with little to no evidence of success. And yet, evaluating whether surveillance technology increases security is a difficult task. How does one measure the value of one bit of intelligence that contributes to the greater whole? How do we measure the role of intelligence in informing decision-makers?
This paper focuses on what intelligence officials in the U.S. and U.K. themselves say about the effectiveness of surveillance technology. In their own words, what are the criteria for evaluating whether a particular piece of surveillance technology meets the goal that motivated its deployment? Even in the absence of explicit evaluations, intelligence bodies must constantly make judgments about effectiveness to determine if they will continue to use and redeploy a particular surveillance technology. This evaluation of effectiveness may be implicit, but it is there.
This study does not examine the veracity of officials’ statements, nor does it determine whether or not a particular surveillance technology is actually effective. Our approach is not to question the truth of what officials say, nor to judge actual effectiveness, but to delve into the meaning and significance of intelligence officials’ statements, to identify values they place on effectiveness and the measures they use to assess it, and their reasoning. This study is not hostile to security forces, but an attempt to honestly understand what considerations intelligence officials take into account when they speak about the effectiveness of surveillance technology. Because so much surrounding surveillance technology is controversial, how it is discussed matters.
The paper proceeds as follows: after briefly addressing related work, terminology is defined and the research methods of this study are described. Thereafter what intelligence officials are saying about effectiveness of surveillance technology is examined. Next, statements about cost are analyzed to understand how officials factor it into their assessments is followed by an analysis of what they are saying with regard to proportionality. Lastly, officials’ statements regarding effectiveness, cost, and proportionality are considered together and critiqued, and recommendations offered for a more holistic approach.
Worldwide trends in surveillance
Governments throughout the world are enacting surveillance laws based on a variety of different excuses:
- Drug trafficking
- Tax evasion
- Copyright violations
Just in the past year, there have been three landmark laws passed.
- In the UK, Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Bill, which forces all internet service providers and phone companies to record the activity of their customers online.
- In the US, Congress passed a law enabling internet service providers to record everything their customers do online and sell this data to third parties and advertisers.
- In Australia, a law was passed forcing internet service providers to bulk collect private data and browsing history – similar to in the UK. (Get a VPN for Australia to stay safe.
Problem. Reaction. Solution… more surveillance
While the causes can certainly be debated, the rise in terrorism, crime, and violence will be used as an excuse to enact more surveillance measures. You see this trend unfolding clearly everywhere – particularly in the Western world.
- Problem: increasing violence/terrorism/crime
- Reaction: people become afraid and demand solutions
- Solution: more surveillance and police state programs
It’s all entirely predictable. And as with most government programs, these surveillance measures will be permanent, rather than temporary “solutions.” Remember the Patriot Act back in 2001?
Welcome to the police state.
The sad reality is that very little is likely to change with this trend.
In the interest of “security” and “public safety” governments want to know everything you do online, who you communicate with, and what your personal views are. And as various politicians demand more power to ensure public safety, the inevitable result is the loss of your privacy.
Even if you’re a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide, you may end up on the wrong side of the ever-expanding surveillance state. This is no conspiracy, but rather just an unbiased observation when you look at the laws passed in the last year.
Even if you have nothing to hide, you are now the target.
COVID-19 tracking data and surveillance risks are more dangerous than their rewards
We as a whole know now how seriously unprepared America was to take on a general wellbeing conflict on the size of COVID-19. In any case, as we battle to find nations that have effectively pushed back on the flare-up, we begin to see new risks in the weapons we convey to battle this illness, including a portion of those utilized abroad.
As bureaucratic, state and neighborhood governments progressively think about large tech and mass reconnaissance as an instrument to battle the spread of the dangerous infection, we should prepare for observation entrepreneurs who will imperil general wellbeing and the strength of our vote based system. For certain Americans, the outcomes of extended information assortment could be pretty much as dangerous as the actual sickness.
As we’ve found in China, Taiwan and South Korea, each feature of present day life can turn into an apparatus for following the infection’s spread. Regardless of whether it’s the public authority utilizing cellphone tower information to follow the development of explorers from Wuhan to different pieces of China, or pushing for utilizing new applications that foresee if clients have been presented to the sickness, or get-together data from online media to plan where clients are posting from, our advanced lives are becoming clinical indicative apparatuses.
However much this reconnaissance may appear as though a keen method to battle the pandemic, these projects can fail to understand the situation. There is a significant danger that these kinds of man-made consciousness frameworks will reflect the biases of their human creators, erroneously focusing on Asian Americans and other underestimated gatherings. There is likewise the danger that they drive large numbers of the people who have been contaminated into the shadows, demolishing the spread. Furthermore, when the time of virus is finished, these crisis reconnaissance apparatuses may effectively be co-selected different purposes – everything from following graffitiing to tax avoidance – making Orwellian observation a long-lasting piece of American life.
Protect yourself… right now
The best tool for protecting your privacy online is a good VPN (virtual private network). A good VPN service will encrypt your internet connection, protect your privacy, and anonymize your online activity.
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re using a good VPN in combination with other privacy tools, you don’t have to stress about these developments. Just be smart and use protection whenever you go online.
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