The concept of internet surveillance, as with any type of surveillance, conjures up the images of someone skulking about, peeping through windows and spying through keyholes, listening through the walls, and generally nosing about where he/she does not belong. However, internet surveillance may well go many steps beyond simple sleuthing.
In fact, the concept of internet surveillance stands in direct opposition to the idea of a "secure" internet. According to Netlingo, "Information traveling on the Internet usually takes a circuitous route to its destination computer, through several intermediary computers. The actual route is not under your control. As your information travels, each intermediary computer presents the risk that someone will eavesdrop and make copies. An intermediary computer could even deceive you and exchange information with you by misrepresenting itself as your intended destination. These possibilities make the transfer of confidential information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, susceptible to abuse." This is cybercrime.
Another non-secure internet activity is spyware. "Software that gathers information about a user as he or she navigates around the Web, spyware is intended to track surfing habits in order to build marketing profiles. .... [and] information about your habits will be transmitted back to the company's Web site-but not information specifically about you." Although marketing spyware is not illegal, the way in which it works can be used as one technique for internet surveillance.
"Within the Internet industry, cookies are used by advertisers to track your browsing and buying habits. In this realm, cookie technology enables advertisers to target ad banners based on what you've said your interests are." However, "There is an ongoing debate about privacy" regarding cookies and, like their namesake, they leave a trail which "others" can follow.
Taking spyware and cookies one step further, internet surveillance is intentional and can utilize both to accomplish data mining and what is now being called ethical hacking. Although "hacking has been going on since computers were invented, and sometimes there have been extremely damaging consequences, ... a variety of old-time hackers have now 'gone commercial' and taken hacking to the business level." Here is where internet surveillance crosses the dual pathways of the techniques and talents of data mining. The question then becomes an ethical one: "Because we know how, should we?"
- "White House Web Site Revelation," CBS News/Associated Press, December 30, 2005. re White House Website Privacy and Security Policy.
- Curmudgeon, "Our crapulous press," Mapleberry Blogspot, December 30, 2005. re "U.S. to Probe Contractor's Web Tracking." re Privacy Statement for Visitors to Sites Tracked by WebTrends On Demand.
- Leon Despair, "No One Even Knew It Was Happening," bottomfeeder, December 30, 2005.
- American Civil Liberties Union
- CAPPS II abuses
- civil liberties
- Computer Assisted Passenger PreScreening System II
- Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime
- critical infrastructure
- data mining
- Department of Homeland Security
- domestic spying
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
- Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force
- homeland security
- Homeland Security government agencies and programs
- Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
- information infrastructure
- information warfare
- keystroke logger
- Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange Program
- National Security Agency
- Office of Internet Enforcement (Securities and Exchange Commission)
- Office of National Risk Assessment
- Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
- Passenger Name Record
- Passenger Profiling
- Patriot Act I
- Patriot Act industry
- political spying
- private security consultants
- Surveillance-industrial complex
- Terrorism Information Awareness
- Terrorist Screening Center
- Torch Concepts
- Total Information Awareness
- War on terrorism
- Advisory Committee, Congressional Internet Caucus web site. Members.
- Government Computer News web site. Daily headlines and archived articles, including Homeland Security.
- Cyber Rights & Cyber-Liberties UK web site.
- Pew Internet & American Life Project web site.
- Security, howstuffworks.com. Includes How ___ Works: Workplace Surveillance, Carnivore, Encryption, Internet Cookies, among others.
- Multilingual NameTag (TM). Multilingual Internet Surveillance System. Multimedia Fusion System bySRA International, University of Pennsylvania (1997).
- Threats to Privacy, Privacy International (2000).
- Mike Ferullo, Senate panel examines FBI, CNN.com, September 6, 2000.
- Andy Oram, Year-end Worldwide Round-up on Internet Surveillance, American Reporter, December 23, 2000.
- Declan McCullagh, USA: Feds Push Internet Surveillance, Wired News, September 12, 2001.
- Internet surveillance up since Sept. 11th, AP, May 28, 2002: "In the seven months since the passage of a sweeping law to combat terrorism, Internet and telecommunications companies have seen a surge in law enforcement requests to snoop on subscribers. ... Privacy advocates fear that expanded police power under the Patriot Act -- combined with lax oversight and increased cooperation between the government and private sector phone network and Internet gatekeepers -- may be stomping on civil liberties. ... The new laws do not apply just to terrorism but to other crimes as well."
- John Markoff and John Schwartz, Bush Administration to Propose System for Wide Monitoring of Internet (abstract), New York Times, December 20, 2002: "Bush administration reportedly plans to propose requiring Internet service providers to help build centralized system to enable broad monitoring of Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users as part of effort to increase national security in wake of Sept 11 attacks; President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board will seek public and private cooperation to defend national computer networks from both everyday hazards and terrorist attack; Internet service providers are concerned about privacy implications and liability."
- Joanna Glassner, DOJ Net Surveillance Under Fire, Wired News, January 10, 2003: "The Justice Department's statements -- and what it did not say -- in a congressional inquiry on the use of broadened surveillance powers authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks is raising a red flag among civil liberties groups. A central concern is the lack of clarity regarding the scope of Internet surveillance powers granted in the controversial USA Patriot Act."
- Declan McCullagh, Perspective: Ashcroft's worrisome spy plans, CNET News.com, February 10, 2003: John Ashcroft's "Justice Department has quietly crafted a whopping 120-page proposal (Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA), a.k.a. Patriot Act II), that represents the boldest attack yet on our electronic privacy in the name of thwarting future terrorist attacks. The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity posted the draft legislation, which reads like J. Edgar Hoover's wish list, on its Web site Friday."
- EFF Analysis Of The Provisions Of The USA PATRIOT Act That Relate To Online Activities (October 31, 2001), Electronic Frontier Foundation, October 27, 2003 (last update).