The Surveillance State
Big Data, Freedom, and You

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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Security, Liberty, or Neither?
Start by considering the tension between surveillance and the rule of law. While the pace of technological change is extremely rapid, laws are slow to keep up. Worse, the institutions…
Episode 2 The Charlie Hebdo Tragedy
In the wake of the attacks in France, citizens wondered whether their state was taking enough security measures to protect them or doing too much of the wrong thing. In…
Episode 3 East Germany’s Stasi State
Go inside what is likely the most extreme surveillance state in the history of civilization. It is estimated that, when you count casual informants, as many as one in six…
Episode 4 Surveillance in America
See what measures the American government took during the Cold War to prevent our devolution into a Stasi-like state. While the CIA and the FBI had several unauthorized surveillance programs…
Episode 5 Failing to Connect the Dots on 9/11
After 9/11, the CIA and the FBI were faulted for not sharing intelligence in advance of the attacks. But the two agencies faced stringent legal restrictions on sharing information, going…
Episode 6 The U.S. Spy Network in Action
Survey the U.S. intelligence community as a whole. Find out how it is structured, how it functions, and how it relates to the rest of the government. Review its methods…
Episode 7 Big Data’s Shadow
The government and private industries are using a vast cache of information about each of us: our travel patterns, our web browsing habits, our purchasing preferences, and more. Efforts to…
Episode 8 Some Problems with Privacy
Because our privacy laws are so far behind today's technology, we need a modern conception of privacy that offers enough flexibility for national security, but that also protects against abuse.…
Episode 9 Under Observation
What happens when we know we are under observation? Or when we know we are anonymous? The "observer effect" has a significant psychological impact on someone being watched, whether it…
Episode 10 Drones, Drones Everywhere
Drones--unmanned aerial vehicles--are flooding our skies, bringing with them a variety of concerns about safety and privacy. Review some of the many public and private uses of drones, and then…
Episode 11 Biometrics
Eye scans and facial recognition software were once the purview of science fiction, but now biometric identification is becoming commonplace. Here, examine the different forms of biometric screening, from fingerprinting…
Episode 12 Hacking, Espionage, and Surveillance
Spycraft used to be limited to physical surveillance and electronic communications, but now, thanks to the Internet, hacking and digital espionage are the wave of the future. Investigate the techniques…
Episode 13 Local Police on the Cyber Beat
For all the talk about national intelligence programs, local police probably gather more surveillance data than any other governmental entity. Find out what techniques cops use to solve crimes, from…
Episode 14 Geolocation
You are where you go--at least according to advertisers, divorce attorneys, and criminal investigators. Take a look at how geolocation data is gathered, ranging from the voluntarily given (such as…
Episode 15 Internet Surveillance
Shift your attention to electronic surveillance, and see how the monitoring of web searches and emails allows the government to gain insights into potential security risks from abroad. But even…
Episode 16 Metadata
Dig deeper into the government's electronic surveillance programs. Here, you'll learn about "metadata"--or data about data. After reviewing what metadata is and how it works, you'll examine the thorny legal…
Episode 17 Technology Outruns the Law
Continue your study of surveillance and the law with a look at constitutional law. After exploring cases from the 1960s and 1970s about privacy and police informants, you'll turn to…
Episode 18 Your Personal Data Is the Product
Surveillance dilemmas also play a significant role in the commercial world, where private companies have amassed incredible amounts of data about us. Step into the intriguing world of commercial data…
Episode 19 The Internet of Things
Technology is quickly transforming our lives with marvelous tools: smart thermostats that automatically adjust the temperature of our homes, self-regulating insulin dispensers, medication management systems, and more. But these technologies…
Episode 20 Anonymity
With the pervasiveness of government and corporate surveillance, some people feel the urge to go off the grid. This lecture explores the benefits and challenges of anonymity for individuals and…
Episode 21 Code Breaking versus Code Making
As privacy has become more of a concern, many technology service providers are instituting more and stronger encryption--including biometric finger scans to unlock phones and access data. But without a…
Episode 22 Europe’s Right to Be Forgotten
Google search results in Europe are different from those in the United States. In Europe, some results are omitted thanks to a "right to be forgotten" principle. Although Europe and…
Episode 23 National Security and the First Amendment
The democratization of newsgathering and the expansion of the surveillance state have amplified tensions over the transparency of government operations. Trace the recent history of the news media from the…
Episode 24 The Privacy Debate Needs You
Look toward the future and examine the possibilities of quantum computing, human-computer interface, and artificial intelligence. These technological changes are going to require each of us to make decisions about…

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Privacy for the Cyber Age
It appears our current conceptions of privacy in cyberspace will disappear. So what can we do about it? By exploring how the government and private sector use "Big Data"--and how "Big Data" can keep the government honest--you'll discover insights into how we can evolve our privacy laws while embracing new…
Metadata - Legal or Not
Episode 16 of The Surveillance State
Dig deeper into the government's electronic surveillance programs. Here, you'll learn about "metadata"--or data about data. After reviewing what metadata is and how it works, you'll examine the thorny legal issues surrounding metadata gathering in the years after 9/11, and whether collecting it violates the 4th Amendment protection against search…
Imminent Threat - The War on Terror’s Impact on Civil Liberties
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Terms and Conditions May Apply - Corporations and Your Private Information
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Big Data—“They” Know Everything about You
In the first of two episodes on personal data tracking and privacy, ponder the problem of "Big Data"--where your Internet searches can be tracked, your cellphone can broadcast your geographical location instantly, and your online purchases can be catalogued. It's a frightening aspect of cybersecurity, and one that, unfortunately, is…
Everything's Under Control - Surveillance, Privacy and Security in a Digital World
Facebook, Amazon and Google provide us with around the clock access to the convenience of the digital world. Surveillance cameras on the streets take care of our security. But who actually collects our fingerprints, iris scans, online shopping preferences, and social media posting? Don't we care about our privacy anymore?…
Big Data: Good for the Customer Not Just the Business
Part of the Series: Business Intelligence Collection
An important lesson learned about Big Data is that collecting and storing data may be the easier part of the job, analyzing and utilizing the data, well, that's the challenging task. It's become abundantly clear, that today's organizations need to work through the challenges and come full circle with their…
Your Personal Data Is the Product
Episode 18 of The Surveillance State
Surveillance dilemmas also play a significant role in the commercial world, where private companies have amassed incredible amounts of data about us. Step into the intriguing world of commercial data aggregation and predictive analytics, and explore the complicated legal and ethical questions surrounding the commercial collection and use of data.
Technology Outruns the Law
Episode 17 of The Surveillance State
Continue your study of surveillance and the law with a look at constitutional law. After exploring cases from the 1960s and 1970s about privacy and police informants, you'll turn to the computer era. Find out what expectations of privacy we have regarding email and phone metadata, airport travel, and our…
Big Data’s Shadow
Episode 7 of The Surveillance State
The government and private industries are using a vast cache of information about each of us: our travel patterns, our web browsing habits, our purchasing preferences, and more. Efforts to decide upon and enact laws and policies trail behind new developments in technology, and this lecture examines the potential inherent…
National Security and the First Amendment
Episode 23 of The Surveillance State
The democratization of newsgathering and the expansion of the surveillance state have amplified tensions over the transparency of government operations. Trace the recent history of the news media from the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks, and draw your own conclusions about what information should be published and who should be allowed…
Anonymity - Going off the Grid
Episode 20 of The Surveillance State
With the pervasiveness of government and corporate surveillance, some people feel the urge to go off the grid. This lecture explores the benefits and challenges of anonymity for individuals and for society, delving into issues such as the freedom of political speech and the privacy of personal searches and communication.…