Surveillance Updates

Lots of new developments in the surveillance topic recently you will want to familiarize yourself with.


The Iphone aff may not be as common at the TOC as thought

After weeks of the FBI insisting that only Apple could enable it to access encrypted data on the iPhone of San Bernardino terrorism suspect Syed Farook, the law enforcement agency says it doesn’t need Apple’s help after all.

We don’t know how the FBI managed to break the device’s encryption after weeks of insisting that it could do so only with Apple’s help. The government has said it received assistance from a third party, but it has refused to identify that organization or the techniques that were used.

A couple of weeks ago, it looked like we were headed toward a court ruling that could help define privacy rights for the 21st century. But the government’s abrupt change of heart means that courts won’t have a chance to rule on whether technology companies can be compelled to help the government break the encryption on their customers’ devices. The issue could crop up again in the coming months, as law enforcement agencies seek Apple’s help to unlock the iPhones of suspects in other cases.

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent,” Apple said in a Monday night statement. “This case should never have been brought.”


The recent terror attack in Brussels has sparked a new round of articles about the effectiveness of surveillance 


Recycling failed, constitutionally dubious policies is not a solution to terrorism, nor is singling out a largely law-abiding minority community for even more invasive government surveillance than it already endures.

Police are already empowered to investigate criminal activity, and to patrol any neighborhood they like. But the power to select entire neighborhoods or communities for intense police surveillance based solely on the ethnicity or religion is a power the police don’t need and shouldn’t have.


Surveillance quells dissent, which could be a decent aff K arg 

A new study shows that knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. The research offers a sobering look at the oft-touted “democratizing” effect of social media and Internet access that bolsters minority opinion.

The study, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, studied the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects. The majority of participants reacted by suppressing opinions that they perceived to be in the minority. This research illustrates the silencing effect of participants’ dissenting opinions in the wake of widespread knowledge of government surveillance, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.

The “spiral of silence” is a well-researched phenomenon in which people suppress unpopular opinions to fit in and avoid social isolation. It has been looked at in the context of social media and the echo-chamber effect, in which we tailor our opinions to fit the online activity of our Facebook and Twitter friends. But this study adds a new layer by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship.


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