Under Observation
The Panopticon Effect

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Security, Liberty, or Neither?
Episode 1 of The Surveillance State
Start by considering the tension between surveillance and the rule of law. While the pace of technological change is extremely rapid, laws are slow to keep up. Worse, the institutions responsible for creating laws often have internal conflicts about the role of privacy and security--as illustrated by a dramatic face-off…
The Charlie Hebdo Tragedy
Episode 2 of The Surveillance State
In the wake of the attacks in France, citizens wondered whether their state was taking enough security measures to protect them or doing too much of the wrong thing. In considering this question, review three types of surveillance--physical, electronic and data--and see how each type works. Case studies of the…
East Germany’s Stasi State
Episode 3 of The Surveillance State
Go inside what is likely the most extreme surveillance state in the history of civilization. It is estimated that, when you count casual informants, as many as one in six East Germans was a spy--keeping tabs on neighbors, friends and family. Survey the history of this insidious surveillance state and…
Surveillance in America
Episode 4 of The Surveillance State
See what measures the American government took during the Cold War to prevent our devolution into a Stasi-like state. While the CIA and the FBI had several unauthorized surveillance programs in the 1950s and 1960s, Congress and the Supreme Court stepped in to oversee the intelligence world with several powerful…
Failing to Connect the Dots on 9/11
Episode 5 of The Surveillance State
After 9/11, the CIA and the FBI were faulted for not sharing intelligence in advance of the attacks. But the two agencies faced stringent legal restrictions on sharing information, going back to the 1978 FISA legislation, which erected a "wall" between intelligence gathering and criminal investigations. Review the reasons for…
The U.S. Spy Network in Action
Episode 6 of The Surveillance State
Survey the U.S. intelligence community as a whole. Find out how it is structured, how it functions, and how it relates to the rest of the government. Review its methods of gathering and analyzing intelligence, including some of the key challenges in the process.
Big Data’s Shadow
Episode 7 of The Surveillance State
The government and private industries are using a vast cache of information about each of us: our travel patterns, our web browsing habits, our purchasing preferences, and more. Efforts to decide upon and enact laws and policies trail behind new developments in technology, and this lecture examines the potential inherent…
Some Problems with Privacy
Episode 8 of The Surveillance State
Because our privacy laws are so far behind today's technology, we need a modern conception of privacy that offers enough flexibility for national security, but that also protects against abuse. Here, reflect on the nature of privacy and consider the two extremes: a Panopticon world of total surveillance on the…
Drones, Drones Everywhere
Episode 10 of The Surveillance State
Drones--unmanned aerial vehicles--are flooding our skies, bringing with them a variety of concerns about safety and privacy. Review some of the many public and private uses of drones, and then consider policy issues such as: what constitutes permissible use of drone video footage? What safety regulations are appropriate? How can…
Biometrics - Eyes, Fingers, Everything
Episode 11 of The Surveillance State
Eye scans and facial recognition software were once the purview of science fiction, but now biometric identification is becoming commonplace. Here, examine the different forms of biometric screening, from fingerprinting to DNA analysis. While there are many benefits to this technology, you'll also see the darker side of this data…
Hacking, Espionage, and Surveillance
Episode 12 of The Surveillance State
Spycraft used to be limited to physical surveillance and electronic communications, but now, thanks to the Internet, hacking and digital espionage are the wave of the future. Investigate the techniques by which governments infiltrate each other, ponder the ethics of these actions, and think through the appropriate responses.
Local Police on the Cyber Beat
Episode 13 of The Surveillance State
For all the talk about national intelligence programs, local police probably gather more surveillance data than any other governmental entity. Find out what techniques cops use to solve crimes, from closed-circuit cameras to license plate readers, and explore how the NYPD has put all the pieces together.