Tech Art

Security & Surveillance

Security & Surveillance

Surveillance is the monitoring of behavior, activities, or information for the purpose of influencing, managing or directing. This can include observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment, such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), or interception of electronically transmitted information, such as Internet traffic. It can also include simple technical methods, such as human intelligence gathering and postal interception.

Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or the investigation of crime. It is also used by criminal organizations to plan and commit crimes, and by businesses to gather intelligence on their competitors, suppliers or customers. Religious organisations charged with detecting heresy and heterodoxy may also carry out surveillance.[1] Auditors carry out a form of surveillance.[2]

Surveillance can be viewed[by whom?] as a violation of privacy, and as such is often opposed by civil liberties activists. A liberal democracy may have laws which restrict domestic government and private use of surveillance. Authoritarian governments seldom have any domestic restrictions, and international espionage is common among all types of countries.

Concerns have been raised[by whom?] about surveillance with regards to the Internet of things where surveillance technology is used for identification, monitoring, location tracking or to gain access to buildings and networks.

The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet.[3] In the United States for example, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by federal law enforcement agencies.[4][5][6]

There is far too much data on the Internet for human investigators to manually search through all of it. Therefore, automated Internet surveillance computers sift through the vast amount of intercepted Internet traffic to identify and report to human investigators the traffic that is considered interesting or suspicious. This process is regulated by targeting certain “trigger” words or phrases, visiting certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or online chat with suspicious individuals or groups.[7] Billions of dollars per year are spent by agencies, such as the NSA, the FBI and the now-defunct Information Awareness Office, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, NarusInsight, and ECHELON to intercept and analyze all of this data to only extract the information which is useful to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.[8]

Computers can be a surveillance target because of the personal data stored on them. If someone is able to install software, such as the FBI’s Magic Lantern and CIPAV, on a computer system, they can easily gain unauthorized access to this data. Such software could be installed physically or remotely.[9] Another form of computer surveillance, known as van Eck phreaking, involves reading electromagnetic emanations from computing devices in order to extract data from them at distances of hundreds of meters.[10][11] The NSA runs a database known as “Pinwale“, which stores and indexes large numbers of emails of both American citizens and foreigners.[12][13] Additionally, the NSA runs a program known as PRISM, which is a data mining system that gives the United States government direct access to information from technology companies. Through accessing this information, the government is able to obtain search history, emails, stored information, live chats, file transfers, and more. This program generated huge controversies in regards to surveillance and privacy, especially from U.S. citizens.

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