Surveillance

The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You

By Paul Rosenzweig
Friday, March 4, 2016, 2:37 PM

At the risk of slightly immodest behavior, I thought blog readers might be interested in knowing about the release of my new video course: "The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You" from The Great Courses. Most of what the course covers will be familiar to those who read Lawfare, but it makes a perfect stocking stuffer for the "policy nerd" in your family. Here is the ad copy for the course:

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?
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