Is the Digital Data Boom Creating a Surveillance State?

A new Congressional inquiry has found that 1.3 million requests were made by law enforcement officials last year for cellphone subscriber information, including geo-location information. 

What's the Latest Development?


Local, state and federal law enforcement officials made 1.3 million demands for cellphone subscriber information last year, according to a Congressional inquiry created to address the matter. It seems that, thanks to the boom in digital data activity, authorities are becoming reliant on digital surveillance to conduct investigations. "The data turned over include geo-location information, based on cell tower and Global Positioning System coordinates; calls made and received; text message content; and wiretap information," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) who requested the information from carriers, including records on 'cell tower' dumps, in which carriers provide authorities with data on cellphone use near a specific cell tower. 

What's the Big Idea?

The increase in digital surveillance requests contrasts sharply with traditional wiretaps, which were only authorized 3,000 times in 2010, although the two surveillance techniques serve the same purpose of intercepting communication between individuals. The practice of collecting data from companies that indiscriminately store their users' data is prompting debate about legal standards and privacy protections. According to the Congressional inquiry, "carriers have turned down requests they deem to be unwarranted or not backed up by the required degree of legal justification." 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less