Mass Surveillance Ethics : Richard E. Morris

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Mass Surveillance Ethics
Richard E. Morris
Excelsior College

Surveillance is, in the simplest terms, monitoring or observing an individual or group. Derived from a French term meaning "looking upon," it includes not only visual observation but also behavior analysis. Prominent examples of surveillance include cameras, wiretaps, GPS tracking, and packet sniffing.
Observation is often seen as an expression of control. Just as being stared at for an extended period can make you uneasy and even hostile, constant surveillance can have the same effect. Additionally, surveillance is often conducted secretly and under the auspice of some authority.
The technological capabilities available in the present day take surveillance to unprecedented
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This state of affairs would continue until 1898, when Valdemar Poulsen introduced magnetic wire recording with the invention of the telegraphone. During World War II, both the Allies and the Axis used magnetic tape to conduct surveillance on their enemies, and on their own citizens. Prior to the war, most legislation and court decisions had limited the ability of the United States government to wiretap its own citizens. With the onset of hostilities, however, the issue of national security began to weigh heavily on legislators. This use of domestic wiretapping was never dialed back, even increasing during the Cold War era as the FBI monitored the communications of suspected Communist sympathizers such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, as computers have become seemingly ubiquitous and essential to our daily lives, the methods of computer surveillance become increasingly diverse. Packet sniffers, keyloggers, and encryption backdoors are the most prevalent tools in the most recent evolution of electronic surveillance.
The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) was sweeping legislation enacted in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Act increased the capability of law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism by granting agencies the authority to
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