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The Impact of Surveillance, Technology, Fighting Crime & Terrorism
The impact of surveillance technology has become exponentially evolved from cybersurveillance tools such as Carnivore (now disbanded, once used by the FBI) and Magic Lantern, and NARUS. All surveillance tools have the potential to monitor en masse surveillance target populations to combat crime, transnational global syndicates and terrorism.
The questions of technology, one may ask what are the limits to which such surveillance tools may infringe on civil liberties, whether there is encroaching "Death of Privacy," as David Rosen has said several years back.
But is it a question that that technology (or techne) has become a "Leviathan"--to which no a posteriori necessity can circumvent a surveillance society in monitoring terrorist threats, offender and penal monitoring, and battling transnational organized crime.
Is it what Heidegger predicted that "techne" will lead to encompassing dehumaniziation of political, legal and social machinery, which there is no escape as technology advances to escape from its entangled web of the advance of surveillance technology (since Post WW II)? Or what I conclude that it is a sharp a "double edged" sword, which has an instrumental effect--and not a clearly legitimized totalization or programmatic one of a hyper-alarmist en masse surveillance society, if we read the works of Jacques Ellul, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Ram Bam, Hans Jonas, Kurt Goedel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stanley Jaki, Edmund Burke, Carl Hempel, Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyeraband, Hans Urs Von Balthazar, Karl Barth, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Hilary Putnam, Alan F. Westin, Joel Feinberg, Reinhold Niebhur, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, Mary Gibson, David Garland, Jerome Skolnick, John I. Kleinig, Todd Clear, Robert Kelly, Ko Lin Chin, Barry Latzer, and Jurgen Habermas, among others.
R.S.Y. Kim, John Jay College, Law & Police Science Department
A General History of Surveillance in the U.S. in a Nutshell
Surveillance has always been a tool of governance during times of national crisis – whether prompted by threats of war, social unrest, foreign subversion, or rampant crime. The forms taken by such surveillance have followed technological developments in modes of communication and data storage. Postal monitoring occurred during the colonial period, telegraphic monitoring developed during the nineteenth century, telephonic wiretaps and bugging devices were implemented in the twentieth century, and now, more recently, various forms of computer surveillance have been designed and employed. Although these forms of surveillance have been defended in prospect of assuring national security , their use has nevertheless generated an ongoing and increasing public debate as various civil liberties – and, particularly, privacy – have been seemingly compromised.
Significantly, the issue, here now, being addressed is that there was no major official alarm for the violation of privacy until the mid to late 20th Century until landmark Supreme Court cases legally addressed privacy concerns as a paramount 4th Amendment issue. It was not after the advancement of modern surveillance technology and violation of police authority that the violation of privacy of unwarranted, and illicit monitoring could come to the forefront of how powerful the capacities to surveil could manifest itself.