The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You [TTC Video]
27 July 2016, 16:44
Course No 9363 | M4V, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 153 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.44GB
A police officer places a GPS device on a suspected drug dealer’s car to trace his whereabouts and build a case against him. A popular retail store uses predictive analytics to send pregnancy-related advertising to a teenager who has yet to tell her parents about her condition. A Kentucky man shoots down a neighbor’s drone that is flying over his private property.
The news is full of stories like these, in which new technologies lead to dilemmas that could not have been imagined just a few decades ago. The 21st century has seen remarkable technological advances, with many wonderful benefits. But with these advances come new questions about privacy, security, civil liberties, and more. Big Data is here, which means that government and private industries are collecting massive amounts of information about each of us—information that may be used in marketing, to help solve criminal investigations, and to promote the interests of national security. Pandora’s Box has been opened, but in many ways the government is behind the times, relying on legislation from the 1970s to inform its stance on regulating the collection and use of this information. Our society now faces a host of critical questions, including:
- Where is the line between promoting national security and defending personal liberty?
- What information may the government collect about you from your Internet service provider?
- When it comes to search and seizure, is a cell phone any different from a diary?
- How will we respond to future technologies such as quantum computers and artificial intelligence?
Explore these questions and more in The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You. Taught by Paul Rosenzweig, J.D., esteemed legal expert and professorial lecturer at The George Washington University School of Law, these 24 revealing lectures tackle the tough questions about surveillance and data in the 21st century. Get an insider’s look at how technology from search engines to your car’s toll road transponder gathers information about American citizens. With Professor Rosenzweig’s guidance, you’ll scrutinize our system of oversight for intelligence agencies, and you’ll consider the ways in which the information that is collected impacts (or potentially impacts) our civil liberties. He presents the facts objectively, giving you the information you need to draw your own conclusions.
Covering everything from the legal framework for surveillance to the structure of the U.S. intelligence community to the myriad technologies that capture and analyze data, The Surveillance State offers a window into crucial events that are happening around us right now—and shows the challenging balance we all confront between personal privacy and national security.
Examine the Legal Framework for Surveillance
Technology has made our lives easier in recent years so that now, via a computer in our pockets, we can search nearly the entire corpus of human knowledge, connect with friends around the world, monitor our health, and much more. One theme running through this course is the way technology often outpaces the law. As predicted by Moore’s Law, our processing power is doubling every couple of years while the cost of data storage is dropping rapidly. This has ushered in the era of “Big Data,” enabling tech companies and intelligence agencies to collect and analyze countless points of information about everyone—our habits, our preferences, our interests.
Big Data represents a significant challenge to our concepts of privacy, and it threatens the possibility of preserving any kind of anonymity. But the laws that might protect us were written in the 1970s, before the invention of cell phones, the Internet, and even the personal computer. Mr. Rosenzweig gives you the history of laws from FISA legislation in the 1970s to the Patriot Act after 9/11, and he brings in relevant Supreme Court cases and executive actions to paint a picture of the laws and policies around surveillance today—and the questions for law- and policy-makers tomorrow.
Related to law, the structure of the intelligence community itself—and its oversight—plays a major role in how surveillance works. You’ll take a detailed look at what the intelligence community does and how it operates in practice, looking at such things as:
- physical surveillance (eavesdroppers, satellite imagery, wiretapping)
- electronic or signals intelligence (code-breaking, intercepting emails, metadata)
- “dataveillance” (the collection and analysis of data)
- security classifications
- special operations
- oversight committees
Who Watches the Watchers?
The questions of oversight and restraint are key challenges for the surveillance state. For instance, there was, beginning in the 1970s, a legislative wall between surveillance for national security and for criminal investigation. While this wall was designed to protect our constitutional rights, it makes it difficult for agencies to “connect the dots” when terrorists orchestrate plots such as 9/11.
So who watches the watchers? And what is the psychological effect of surveillance, both on the watcher and the watched? To help frame the discussion, Mr. Rosenzweig examines Jeremy Benthem’s Panopticon, a theoretical prison with an all-seeing eye, which has become a metaphor for a state of total (and anonymous) surveillance. A riveting lecture on the East German Stasi state shows just how terrifying such a state could be.
The opposite situation, however, can be just as dangerous. If our government offers too little transparency, it risks abuses of power. But too much transparency presents a general security risk. Imagine if the details of the Osama Bin Laden raid had been leaked ahead of time—it would have compromised the entire operation.
To help frame this debate, you’ll examine challenges to the law and the efforts journalists and other whistleblowers have made to ensure greater transparency, including issues around:
- the Pentagon Papers
- Bradley (Chelsea) Manning
- Edward Snowden
What right do we have to access the information these leakers released? Are there times when journalists should show restraint? And in an age of citizen-journalism, what responsibilities does each of us have in this ethical dilemma?
Make Your Own Decisions about Policy and Ethics
The debate over surveillance and privacy is hardly limited to the government. In fact, private industries likely have even more information about us on file—and with less oversight and regulation. The “Internet of Things” holds great promise for the future, where “smart” thermostats can maintain an optimal temperature in our home and self-regulating insulin machines can free diabetics from routine shots. But these technologies leave intimately revealing data trails, so private companies know what we are searching for and how we spend our days—as well as some of our deepest, darkest secrets.
Who owns this data? Should private industries be allowed to sell this information to third parties? Does the government need a warrant to access it in the name of national security? How transparent do private companies need to be when gathering data about us? And is it possible to go completely off the grid via methods such as the TOR network or Bitcoin?
These are difficult questions, and our society will continue to face even more challenges as technology continues to advance. While this course offers you a framework for answering these questions, as well as the tools and examples to fully understand the issues, Mr. Rosenzweig leaves it to you to reach your own conclusions. When you complete The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You, you will have all the facts you need to make your own reasonable choices—and take a first step toward an empowered future.
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