Surveillance abuse

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Surveillance abuse is the use of surveillance methods or technology to monitor the activity of an individual or group of individuals in a way which violates the social norms or laws of a society.

During the FBI's COINTELPRO operations, there was widespread surveillance abuse which targeted political dissidents, primarily people from the political left and civil rights movement.

Other abuses include "LOVEINT" which refers to the practice of secret service employees using their extensive monitoring capabilities to spy on their love interest or spouse.[1]

There is no prevention in the amount of unauthorized data collected on individuals and this leads to cases where cameras are installed inappropriately.[2] “For instance, according to the BBC, four council workers in Liverpool used a street CCTV pan-tilt-zoom camera to spy on a woman in her apartment.” (Cavallaro, 2007). This is just one case where culprits have been caught; however, there are still many common acts such as this. Another incident of inappropriate installation now has “Pennsylvania parents suing their son's school, alleging it watched him through his laptop's webcam while he was at home and unaware he was being observed.” (Surveillance Camera Players, 2010). This leads to the misconception of surveillance, as it once was a tool to monitor and make sure citizens abide by the law, it has now created even more problems. With cameras only becoming more advanced and more common, it is difficult to determine whether these surveillance cameras are helping to ensure a safe society or leading to bigger issues altogether.[3]

With the growing of Web 2.0 and social networking sites, surveillance may be more easily and commonly abused in many situations for a variety of reasons. For example, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), formerly known as Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), has previously spied on Canadians through the public wireless internet connections in an airport in the country. Through this they gathered information on who people called or texted and where they were when they communicated with others. The CSE search through approximately 10-15 million downloads daily. An example of where surveillance may have been abused is where Facebook and Apple have admitted to allowing government officials to access personal information of their account users.[4][5][6][7]

A device which may be used to abuse surveillance, called a Stingray, acts and looks similar to a cellphone tower but it tricks mobile devices into connecting with it. After connected an operator can take information stored on the device, sometimes intercepting phone calls and text messages. This method of surveillance can be used on random civilians or in an investigation of a particular person.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NSA Officers Spy on Love Interests".
  2. ^ Coplan, Paul M.; Budman, Simon H.; Landau, Craig; Black, Ryan A.; Chilcoat, Howard; Cassidy, Theresa A.; Butler, Stephen F. (2013-04-01). "Abuse Rates and Routes of Administration of Reformulated Extended-Release Oxycodone: Initial Findings From a Sentinel Surveillance Sample of Individuals Assessed for Substance Abuse Treatment". The Journal of Pain. 14 (4): 351–358. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2012.08.008. ISSN 1526-5900. PMID 23127293.
  3. ^ Jansen, Anja M.; Giebels, Ellen; van Rompay, Thomas J. L.; Junger, Marianne (2018-10-16). "The Influence of the Presentation of Camera Surveillance on Cheating and Pro-Social Behavior". Frontiers in Psychology. 9: 1937. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01937. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 6198084. PMID 30386277.
  4. ^ Alexander, Julia. "How the Canadian Government Can Spy on Your Online Activities".
  5. ^ Brown, Jesse (2014). "Where Is Canada's Rage over Digital Surveillance?".
  6. ^ Hildebrant, Ambera; Dave Seglins and Michael Pereira (2015). "CSE Monitors Millions of Canadian Emails to Government".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Lievrouw, Leah A. (2011). "Alternative and Activist New Media". Cambridge, UK: Polity.
  8. ^ Braga, Matthew. "The Covert Cellphone Tracking Tech the RCMP and CSIS Won't Talk about." The Globe and Mail. N.p., 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.