Browse Items (17 total)

  • Tags: The History of Mass Surveillance in the United States

Criminal I.D. card
In 1883, a French criminologist by the name of Alphonse Bertillon invented the first system of recording physical measurements, taking photographs, and record-keeping for police to identify criminals. Before Bertillon, suspects were only identified…
Item Type: Technology

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In the mid-1850s, several railroad tycoons saw the need for greater control of their employees and decided to jointly sponsor a private detective agency to protect from corporate risk (Morn 1982). The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, founded by…
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In 1897, the National Chiefs of Police Union founded the National Bureau of Identification, a government agency dedicated to recording identifying information on criminals for use by law enforcement. The backbone of the program was the Pinkerton…
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The Henry Classification System is a method by which records of fingerprints are indexed by physiological characteristics, allowing for one-to-many searching. In 1859, a British Chief Magistrate in colonized India discovered that fingerprints remain…
Item Type: Technology

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Following their defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. William Howard Taft was tasked overseeing the new colony’s “Benevolent Assimilation,” as termed by President McKinley. Taft…
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The counter-intelligence apparatus developed in the Philippines was the brain child of Ralph Van Deman, a soldier and cartographer for the War Department’s Military Information Division. After leaving the Philippines, Van Deman conducted covert…
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Closed-circut television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a limited set of monitors. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to video surveillance, or the monitoring of areas…
Item Type: Technology

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After World War II, President Harry S Truman ordered a panel to investigate the failures of cryptologic agencies to centralize communications intelligence and coordinate with civilian agencies such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence…
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COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert and in some cases illegal projects between 1956 and 1971 conducted by the FBI aimed at subversive American political organizations. The FBI broadly targeted dissidents from the New Left…
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Project MINARET and Project SHAMROCK are sister espionages exercises undertaken by the NSA from the 1940s to the 1970s. Project MINARET was a domestic project which intercepted electronic communications that contained the names of predesignated US…
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ECHELON, also knows as the Five Eyes, is a SIGINT collection and analysis network secretly established by the United States and the other signatory nations to the UKUSA Security Agreement: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The…
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The Global Positioning System is a project launched by the Department of Defense in 1973 for use by the United States military. In the 1980s it was allowed for civilian use, and by 1995 it was a fully operational satellite-based radionavigation…
Item Type: Technology

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After the Watergate scandal, there was a series of investigations in the mid-1970s that explored the question of intelligence abuse. These included the Watergate Hearings, the Rockefeller Commission, the Pike Committee, and, most presciently, the…
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DNA fingerprinting is the process of determining an individual’s a DNA profile, which is theoretically as unique as a fingerprint. DNA forensics is a considerably more sensitive tool than fingerprinting, as the “chance impressions” it uses can be…
Item Type: Technology

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When you connect to the Internet, you are joining a network maintained by your Internet service provider (ISP). The ISP’s network communicates with networks maintained by other ISPs to form the basis of the Internet. Packet sniffers are computer…
Item Type: Technology

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Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT Act, or the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. In an atmosphere…
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An International Mobile Subscriber Identity-catcher, or IMSI-catcher, is a device that acts as a fake mobile tower between a cell phone and its service provider’s real towers, known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. IMSI-catchers intercept…
Item Type: Technology
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