Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 17:17

Mass surveillance

Mass surveillance is the sophisticated surveillance of citizens in part or in whole on either private or public lands.

Government Spying

Government spying, or public spying, is when a massive state uses the various lands under its control to throw out a wide net that can watch as many citizens all at once. Public places such as parks, libraries, state run schools and universities, court houses, and even traffic cameras can be involved. This is compounded by wide scale spying programs instituted under the guise of protecting the populace, but are nothing more than a means to keep an eye on the populace and monitor their every move.


See also: The Lives of Others

Mass surveillance is a way of life under totalitarian governments and goes back a long way, one example of this is the communist East German government with its "Ministry for State Security", or Stasi.

State spying is also prevalent under authoritarian governments, particularly when they are increasingly moving leftward by the demand of their voters.[1]


Project ECHELON is a program that came to public light during the Clinton era.[2]. Since this was discovered while under left wing governance, news outlets such as The New York Times were in support of it[2].

Airport Pat Downs

Not all surveillance occurs in an electronic form with either cameras, or behind the scenes in a phone or internet connected situation, or both. In 2010 the Transportation Security Administration implemented new[3] pat down procedures that were sometimes referred to as "legal groping"[4].

High Profile Incidents

While groping has been much talked about and for some seems like a common place occurrence[5], it is not just individual citizens who are finding themselves in this situation[6].

Senator Rand Paul was detained at an airport in Nashville[7].

NSA Spying

In June 2013 Edward J. Snowden embarrassed Barack Obama by revealing the mass domestic surveillance program known as "PRISM,". In addition, the NSA maintains a massive data collection center in Utah[8].

Private lands

Many individuals and organizations choose to install surveillance on their own property, which is in a different category than mass government spying. Private citizens want to protect their property from theft or vandalism, whereas an out of control government wants to protect its own power from citizens who may vote them out in the next election.

Surveillance on private lands typically does not fall into the category of mass surveillance, such as small businesses and home owners. Large corporations, for example retail chains, food chains, banks, and others do have mass surveillance since they have so many locations. This private video can be subpoenaed for various legal purposes[9].

See also


  1. Republicans oppose, Democrats support NSA surveillance, poll says. Los Angeles Times (June 12, 2013).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Echelon spy network revealed. BBC (March 16, 2008).
  3. TSA to phase in new pat-down procedures at airports nationwide. CNN (October 29, 2010).
  4. Enhanced pat-downs necessary for now, TSA chief says. CNN (November 21, 2010).
  5. Judicial Watch: TSA Records Detail Alleged Sexual Assaults of Travelers at Three U.S. Airports. Judicial Watch (May 12, 2015).
  6. 2 TSA screeners in Denver fired over groping scheme allegations. Fox News (April 15, 2015).
  7. Rand Paul on TSA detainment: ‘I was barked at: ‘Do not leave the cubicle!”. Fox News (January 23, 2012).
  8. 7 Stats to Know About NSA’s Massive Utah Data Center as It Nears Completion. The Blaze (July 1, 2013).
  9. Your Digital Trail: Does The Fourth Amendment Protect Us?. NPR (October 02, 2013).

External Links