Blog post 12: Government surveillance

Three articles are assigned for the week. Read all articles. Find them in the Course Schedule and on Ares. The West and Meyer articles are linked on the Course Schedule.

Content of the post: After reading the articles (and making notes, as always), you will choose two (2) specific points from West’s article about Edward Snowden’s “lessons.” The points are numbered 1–17 in the article, so specify by number the point you are addressing, and avoid excessive quoting.

You must then discuss the relevant arguments in Richards (2013) for EACH of your two points from the Snowden article.

Alternatively, you may choose one (1) point from West’s article and also Meyer’s article (the entire article), and then discuss the relevant arguments in Richards (2013) for EACH of those.

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How effective is surveillance?

Here is a short article from ProPublica, a well-respected independent non-profit news organization:

What’s the Evidence Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much (Nov. 18, 2015)

Very pertinent to yesterday’s presentation and discussion.

Transparency is a big issue: The government claims surveillance has helped to prevent some attacks, but no evidence is given. We are simply supposed to believe the claim because the government said so.

Materials mentioned in class, Sept. 18

On Wednesday, I recommended two movies and an article to you. Links appear below.

Also, I came across this excellent article from Human Rights Watch: Countries Should Protect Privacy in Digital Age (Sept. 20, 2013).

“The shocking revelations of mass monitoring by the US and UK show how privacy protections have not kept pace with technology,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “As our lives become more digitized, unchecked surveillance can corrode everyone’s rights and the rule of law.” (from the HRW article)

Below is the excellent article mentioned in Richards (2013) as unpublished (now available):

boyd, d., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical questions for big data. Information, Communication & Society, 15 (5), 662–679. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878


Minority Report (2002), d. Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise (UF DVD 5314)

The Lives of Others (2006), Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, 2007 (UF DVD 4148)

The DVDs in Library West are on shelves immediately behind the wall behind the checkout desk. The collection is magnificent. DVDs can be signed out for seven days, and you can take three at a time. To find DVDs easily, search here. You’re welcome!

And a special bonus: Here is a free, online documentary with special interest for anyone interested in China:

The Tank Man (2006)

If you watch the first 10 minutes, maybe you will want to watch the whole film. If you are from China, I think you will see something you have never seen before.