Privacy SOS

Part I. Introduction and History of Spying


Over the decade, the government’s powers of surveillance have expanded dramatically. They are directed not just at people suspected of wrongdoing, but at all of us. Our phone calls, our emails and website visits, our financial records, our travel itineraries, and our digital images captured on powerful surveillance cameras are swelling the mountain of data that is being mined for suspicious patterns and associations.

While the government has gained more and more power to watch us, we are being kept in the dark about what it is doing. A new architecture of mass surveillance has been erected, and we know very little about it.

What should we know if we want to remain a free society? What happens to democracy when “national security” trumps the public’s right to know? Is the system that is being established across the country essential to the preservation of public safety, or is it counterproductive? What are the prospects for liberty and justice in the age of total information awareness?

“Surveillance in the Age of Total Information Awareness” addresses these questions as it maps the contours of the surveillance state that has emerged during the decade following the 9/11 attacks. Its goal is to raise awareness and encourage action. How can we work together to restore and protect our basic freedoms and simultaneously enhance public safety?

© 2023 ACLU of Massachusetts.