Wednesday, September 08, 2004

American Civil Liberties Union : Combatting The Surveillance Industrial Complex

On August 9, 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report/position paper on the enlisting of citizens and companies to report vague and undefined "suspicious activities" related to terrorism. Their position is no surprise, but overall the report is an interesting read:

American Civil Liberties Union : Combatting The Surveillance Industrial Complex:

"The Privatization of Surveillance

The U.S. security establishment is rapidly increasing its ability to monitor average Americans by hiring or compelling private-sector corporations to provide billions of customer records. The explosive growth in surveillance by government and business is creating a "Surveillance Industrial Complex" that threatens all of our privacy.

About the Report:

This report makes the case that, across a broad variety of areas, the same dynamic of the "privatization of surveillance" is underway. Different dimensions of this trend are examined in depth in four separate sections of the report:

  • "Recruiting Individuals." Documents how individuals are being recruited to serve as "eyes and ears" for the authorities even after Congress rejected the infamous TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System) program that would have recruited workers like cable repairmen to spy on their customers.
  • "Recruiting Companies." Examines how companies are pressured to voluntarily provide consumer information to the government; the many ways security agencies can force companies to turn over sensitive information under federal laws such as the Patriot Act; how the government is forcing companies to participate in watchlist programs and in systems for the automatic scrutiny of individuals’ financial transactions.
  • "Mass Data Use, Public and Private." Focuses on the government’s use of private data on a mass scale, either through data mining programs like the MATRIX state information-sharing program, or the purchase of information from private-sector data aggregators. "Pro-Surveillance Lobbying." Looks at the flip side of the issue: how some companies are pushing the government to adopt surveillance technologies and programs based on private-sector data."

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