Funny Internet Memes: Effective Response to Surveillance?

The funny pictures and videos we now call “memes” are all over the internet. While most memes may have the same format and pictures, the text often changes to create humor out of a generally more serious topic. When the 2013 NSA/Snowden scandal happened, it became the subject of many memes/videos on the web. One might think making a funny picture out of an issue as serious as privacy and surveillance is innappropriate, but it’s just a way of helping us cope. It reminds us that while these awful things may be happening, we can find humor in the situation that may give us hope or encouragement to intervene and stand up for what we think about what’s going on in the world around us.
The issue of privacy and surveillance is something that affects everybody. Bob Sullivan in his article “Privacy under attack, but does anybody care?” said “Privacy is like health: When you have it, you don’t notice it. Only when it’s gone do you wish you’d done more to protect it.” Everyone has many things that they don’t want the rest of the world to know about and that’s exactly why were given the right to keep our personal lives private. As the years go on, that right we were promised seems to be slowly eroded. Our phone calls are monitored, surveillance cameras are everywhere we look, and our cell phones can tell anyone where we are at any moment. These are all things that are scary, invasive, and unsettling. So why do we joke about them? Inserting humor in a serious situation is a very effective away to apply that situation to our own lives. Seeing a meme we recognize that includes text or a picture about privacy and surveillance allow us to relate that issue to our own lives and realize that it does affect us personally.
How do we go on living our daily lives without being in constant fear and suspision? We do it by turning fear into laughter. That’s not to be mistaken with taking the situation lightly..that’s not the purpose of the internet memes. Creating humor in a seemingly helpless situation allows us to know the issue and make the connection to our own lives, and that is exactly why joking about the situation on the web is a coping device for so many. While we may not google search “surveillance memes” when we’re feeling a bit uneasy about drones flying about, seeing a meme on our twitter feeds about the situation allows us to see the situation, imitate the feelings it gives, and respond/share positively. Richard Dawkins said: “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” Everyone knows what is happening with privacy and surveillance and seeing those pictures may help people to realize how rediculous the situation is from an outside perspective and suddenly feel inclined to do or say something about it to their peers or the government/corporation itself.
Lightening up a serious situation with humor has been around long since the internet. Television involves cartoons addressing serious situations and newspapers involve political comics creating an enjoyable spin on the most recent scandals. While television and newspaper memes are easily accessable to us, internet memes are avialable to us almost immediately. Paul Brewer, associate director for research at the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, says “Many of us are using television, social media, smartphones and tablets all at the same time as we take in the debates, by the time the debate is halfway over, there’s already a Tumblr site full of memes.” Memes are an extremely effective way to not only make people laugh, but spread the laughter around the World Wide Web quickly.
As humans, we have certain ways of dealing with situations we feel like we can do nothing about. The government and big businesses are the main ones involved in invading the privacy in our lives, and as a single person we feel helpless against those powers. Seeing and sharing a funny picture about privacy and surveillance allows us to relate to the situation ourselves, and sharing that picture with our friends allows us to spread the word. Pal Gil, an internet basics expert said, “A meme with political humor attached to it can virally spread awareness of an issue, or can help to reinforce growing attitudes and prejudices.” Internet memes on privacy and surveillance are informative, they’re effective, and they’re down-right hilarious.

Neuman, Scott. “Political Memes: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control?” NPR. 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Gleik, James. “What Defines a Meme?” Smithsonian Magazine, 11 May 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Sullivan, Bob. “Privacy under Attack, but Does Anyone Care?” NBC News. 17 Oct. 2006. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Gil, Paul. “Why Would You Ever Create an Internet Meme?” About Technology. Web. 11 Oct. 2014. .

Week 9 News Digest

  1. PRISM Oct.16, 2014

Prism is a top-secret $20 million a year NSA surveillance program, offering the agency access to information on its targets from the servers of some of the USA’s biggest technology companies: Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, PalTalk and Yahoo. NSA and GCHQ a UK spy agency have been undertaking a systematic effort to undermine encryption, technology which underpins the safety and security of the internet, including email accounts, commerce, banking and official records these actions leave all internet users more vulnerable. Prism can access information “directly from the servers” of US companies a claim that the NSA denies. Other sources claim that the NSA has paid “prism providers” and even that Microsoft helped with the process. GCHQ’s stated goal is to “Master the Internet”, using a clause of a law passed in 2000 for individual warranted surveillance, known as RIPA.



 James Comey director of the FBI says, “The Internet is the most dangerous parking lot imaginable.” Which means that, online one could get mugged in ways that you never saw coming. One example to that helps explain what James Comey is referring to is when JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, admitted that its system was looted for weeks by computer criminals who stole personal information from 83 million customers. This interview started out with what the FBI director thought of terrorism, but the conversation led to a surprising responses. All in all for the top cop of the nation it seems he does question the methods of privacy and surveillance. But check out the video the get the full details.

  1.  South Korea Tries To Ease Cyber Surveillance Fears Oct. 17,2014–finance.html

Prosecutors last month began a cyber investigation team after President Park Geun-hye spoke out against online rumors. The investigation set South Korea in confusion and fear of their government snooping among users and providers of online services. South Korea began to worry even more after a domestic chat app lost customers to a foreign rival because of the fear that prosecutors in one the world’s most wired countries might get access to online conversations. In order to ease the country Prime Minister Chung Hong-won reassured the public about online privacy, saying “the government would only seek monitoring rights in special circumstances, such an investigation of murder, human trafficking or insurrection.”

  1. Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay Oct.7,2014

So this one is kind of a cheat, but it made me remember about the movie 21, where In order to be accepted into Harvard School of Medicine, Ben Campbell will have to save $300,000 for the course. Problem is Ben can’t get this amount of money. But impressing Prof. Micky Rosa with his skills in his math he’s invited to become a member of a small group who are planning to walk out of Vegas with millions, thanks to Ben’s card counting. Ben found a glitch witch is the kind of thing gamblers dream of, casinos dread, and Nevada regulators have an entire auditing regime to prevent. In this article John Kane was hitting the jackpot due to the fact that he’d found a bug in the slot, but his luck changes when the casino’s surveillance security catches his secret.

  1. Surveillance-Proof Oct 17,2014

With new phones coming out and the latest apps to install, we still question who and what can access our privacy such as our emails, phone calls, banking info, etc. But according to Judith Miller “Technology companies take heat for making phones the government can’t tap.” So maybe buying a new phone now isn’t such a bad idea. New York and Washington law enforcement officials ranted and complained about the upgrades Google and Apple created by selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government and warned these major companies that such technology could jeopardize public safety.

NSA Reform Bills: Is it Sufficient ?

Throughout time courts have ruled against any form of intrusion into American citizen’s private lives . These federal laws , for instance the FISA law , seek to discourage fishing undertakings, aimless assumptions and unconditional approaches to collect information among the society. As a matter of fact, it can be illegally retrieved evidence set off by warrantless searches and investigations are presumed unacceptable in courts. This is because the law prevents the State to gain from its infringement. Certainly, an infraction of such rights of a single person is already one too many.

In the PBS special Spying on the Home Front, it exposes just how much the government has no time for legally identified processes of investigation and surveillance to allow uncommon entrance to personal communication encompassed by innocent American citizens. The National Security Agency (NSA) has been explicitly constructed to deflect alarming communication with the ambition of catching the terrorists, even before the agency plans to take definite actions. Therefore, the agency at first was subsequent to the principle that investigations need to prevent private correspondences. Be that as it may, in the last few decades and more so after the 9 /11 terror attacks, the NSA, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used their skills and devices to spy on the American people.

The only thing that can be said about laws that give the government so much power and the citizens so little is that the Patriot Act gave the government permission to set up the framework of a police state. The Patriot Act, established a little over a month after 9/11, reduces civil liberties that were protected by the Constitution. The NSA can even access call records in the cell phone company Verizon, it was made so that the customers didn’t even know that they were even being spied on. Except that Verizon is not the only the information has been put into what is called “metadata”, making so that there is no need for a warrant. It also gains access through internet sites such as Google, Apple, and Facebook through an Internet-search program known as PRISM; without gaining permission not only through the people but also the companies. John Earnest a deputy of the press security states that “Collecting millions of phone records of ordinary citizens allows law enforcement to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other possible terrorists.”

In the summer of 2013, the spying agency claimed they foiled a little over fifty terrorist plots. But how much of that was due to looking through citizen call and internet records? A new analysis of terrorism charges in the US found that the NSA’s dragnet domestic surveillance “had no discernible impact” on preventing terrorist acts. Instead, the majority of threats over the last decade were detected by regular old intelligence and law enforcement methods—tips, informants, CIA and FBI ops, routine law enforcement.

I do understand that the point of the program is to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks but by invading the American people’s personal records and not informing us of such actions? That does not seem beneficial to any innocent citizens.



Week 7 News Digest

Facebook tightens rules on researching users after anger over mood study

October 2


In 2012, the large social networking company Facebook began a study to research how Facebook posts affect their users moods, giving some customers more sad posts and others more happy posts. When the research was published in June, people were shocked and outraged that Facebook did this without the consent, or even the knowledge, of over 700,000 users. While it was a legal study (according to their Terms of Service), but they are now restricting their own research methods to avoid another social outcry. According to Facebook they are clarifying how studies should be handled and training new employees about research practices.


Cyberattack Against JPMorgan Chase Affects 76 Million Households

October 2


Seven million small businesses and 70 million households had their JPMorgan Chase bank accounts compromised in a recent cyberattack. With the recent Target and Home Depot cyberattacks, this may seem like no big deal, however JPMorgan is a bank.Not only does it hold card data and personal information, but it holds financial records and even customer’s money. According to the bank no money was taken, and more secure information such as passwords and social security numbers remain safe,  but people’s names, addresses, phone numbers and emails were taken. In addition hackers obtained information about programs and applications the bank uses, making it easier for a second round of hacking.


New Apple Tool Checks iPhones for ‘Kill Switch’ Security

October 2


Next summer, the citizens of California will be enjoying an iphone that they will be able to “kill” at any time. Last year California law enforcement complained that phone carriers and companies dealing in technology were not doing enough to prevent theft of their electronic devices, which happens often in California. In response, Apple made the Activation Lock feature which is able to make the electronic device unusable to someone without the original user’s Apple username and password. Because it will be law that all smartphone sales have a similar setting, Apple now has an app that can check any iPhone for the feature with the only necessity being a serial number. This should ensure the California law is upheld, as well as let anyone know if their iPhone could be “killed”.


New airport scanner could make going through security a breeze

October 2


The newest airport scanner, the Alfa3, could abolish the need for x-rays, metal detectors, and most importantly, pat downs. Using a technology called millimeter wave imaging, Alfa3 is able to scan people who just walk past it in an easy and efficient manner. This differs from Alfa3’s predecessor’s which required people to stand in a chamber with their arms raised. Also, it gives a higher resolution than other millimeter wave scanners, increasing its accuracy. With the ability to see liquids and gasses, without being able to see any human anatomy, as well as solids through clothing, the Alfa3 would make going through airport security as easy as walking down a hallway, and just as fast and private too.


Dubai detectives to get Google Glass to fight crime

October 2


The fantasy of spy movies and their crazy technological toys seems to become closer to reality every day. This time, its glasses that can do face recognition. That’s right, the Dubai police force are planning on equipping their officers with Google Glass, which is a little computer screen attached to the frame of eyewear. It is able to record videos, snap pictures, record sound, and, with a little work,  compare faces to those in a database. The police in Dubai tend to test this with combating traffic violators, and if it works move it on to phase 2 which will include detective work. Not only can wealth police forces use this handy little tool, but for the low price of $1,500 you could be able to snap pictures in the blink of an eye, with the blink of an eye.

Drones: Are They Helpful in Reporting the News or an Invasion of Privacy

Drones can be very useful to individuals and our country, like take photo and video for real estate, surveying crops, and capturing crimes.  The only question is: Where’s the line between surveilling to be useful and invading privacy?  They’re becoming more available for everyone to use so everyone can spy on everyone.  The military can use them to help combat terrorists and enemies.  The news and media are also starting to use them for the purpose of finding out information that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. They’re also being used by the police to look for missing people, and help keep crimes from happening, but there’s a line between invading people’s privacy and surveilling a situation.

Drones are becoming more commercial. People are concerned whether or not it’s invading their personal privacy. Many people against the use of drones say that it’s a violation of the fourth amendment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is concerned about the potential of drones taking away our personal privacy, which we all care so much about. “There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom.”

Drones are very useful in the military sense, including surveillance of our borders, in order to keep us safe.  Many are very small and very quiet so it’s easy for them to keep tabs on what is below, without anyone noticing or being a large distraction. They can also survey the land above in areas such as a forest that are difficult to search on land. In a time of war, this could be useful to help find enemies that would otherwise be hidden by the trees from above.  They can give immediate feedback and report about where an enemy is, and keep them from advancing or causing any more harm.  Chad Copeland, who’s a National Geographic contributor and a pioneer in the use of drones, said that drones aren’t as intrusive as a man-powered aircraft, and less dangerous if they were to crash.  As long as they warn people that it’s possible that they may be used then they have a right to use them.

Sotomayor said, “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orweillian one, too.” These drones could be just as much surveillance as the Thought Police in Orwell’s book.  Just like the secret spies that were all around in 1984, there could be drones flying through the air collecting video surveillance of you all the time. “’The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to what it means to live in a free society,’ Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said at a Judiciary Committee hearing on whether legislation on drones was needed to protect civil liberties.” This is a very valid point for those that don’t like drones.  They can see things that others don’t want them to see.  A person could have something hidden, but it could be reported very easily for someone with a drone.

Even though drones can seem very invasive to our personal privacy, they can also be very useful and help our society report the news and gather information.   They can help keep crimes from happening, find missing persons, and fight fires. They are also useful in “alerting officers about accidents and crimes and provide video of the incidents.”  They can get in really close to a celebrities window to see inside.  They can get very close on a report of a plane accident.  They could even get close enough to see a dead body.  They could end up finding something secret that could get them in trouble.  All of these things sound almost like a good thing.  The line is very thin on where it is finding out information, and going too far and invading privacy.  It can be really wonderful, but easily become very bad very quickly.

There should be a difference between public and private places.  No one should be able to use drones on private property without consent or a warrant.  A person or people could use their own drown as a way to survey their own grounds.  It would give the News information very quickly, and could get in areas that normal cameras couldn’t.  Anything on public property should be open to have a drone on it at anytime.  There may be a few exceptions, like if a crime were to happen they couldn’t allow a drone in a certain radius distance.  Besides that, public should be public for drones too.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a ban on drones for commercial purposes at the moment. They are deciding on the rules and regulations for these types of uses this coming fall. The FAA has a lot to take into consideration and many things to watch for before they release their regulations this fall.  In California, law enforcement officers that use drones are required to get a warrant, according to Bill AB 1327. There are exceptions to this rule for emergency situations, search and rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. California will be the 14th state in regulating law enforcement drone use if they sign this bill.  A warrant is necessary because it will keep people from snooping without another person knowing and for the wrong reasons.

Drones can be very useful in reporting news if these guidelines are followed.  It’s not an invasion of privacy if these strict rules stated above are followed.  Anything on public property should be allowed because it can find news faster, find it at a new/different/better angle, look for something much faster than by foot, give a lot of detail, live stream, and be given to a news agency by anyone with a drone.

Journalist Adam Tanner to Visit Class on October 1, 2014

Adam Tanner

Adam Tanner, a former Reuters news bureau chief in Belgrade and currently a Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard, will be visiting our class on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.  Adam blogs on personal data issues for Forbes at  He has written a new book that was just published about how the Las Vegas casino industry has used data mining it its marketing and customer service activities.  Two reviews of his book may be found at the

Wall Street Journal, (review 9/8 “Mr. Tanner’s engaging book is realistic.”) and the  Huffington Post,(review by Don McNay 9/9 “[A] masterpiece…Tanner’s book is one of the best business books written this year; in fact, it is one of the best business books in this century. It reminds me of Joe Nocera’s first book, A Piece of the Action, in that it combines detailed knowledge of his subject matter with an excellent writing style, countless personal interviews and observations of events.”).

Mr. Tanner also will be giving a talk at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at a  Hinckley Forum jointly sponsored by the HIP and the University’s MUSE project.

Surveillance, Does it work?

Since the horrific terrorist attack on 9/11 airports have increased their security claiming that they are keeping us safe. Starting as a simple mandatory search, Americans would say that is was all right if it was for them to be protected. As time went on new technology was brought to airports such as an electronic strip search using full body scanner, which could see through clothing. Even pat-downs were getting pretty personal. Now, Americans question, “Is this surveillance really working?”, “Is this really protecting us?”, and “Is this really necessary?”.

These many new technologies that are used at airports that are to “protect” us and “protect” our belongings do indeed work. But it has become clear that prejudices and biases have become increasingly involved. There are even no-fly lists. There was a man who had to change his name because he was fed up with consistently missing his flights every time he had to travel because he was being “randomly” searched. Some of the technologies are set up to automatically and “randomly” search people. It is known that a black woman is more likely to be strip-searched than any other person at the airport.

The many technologies are endless. There is an iris scanner that can detect the color of one’s eyes. It can easily detect the difference between blue eyes and hazel eyes. It does have some issues from the elderly who may had cataracts and for people who are in wheelchairs and they will without a doubt be subject to search because this technology doesn’t work for them. There are also motion detectors, thermal sensors, and video cameras to help surveillance.

Security cameras, the number on most thought of surveillance, even have evolved to give better pictures and more clear evidence. With better cameras to detect more issues, wouldn’t the airport not necessarily need these other technologies? So that they “could do more with less?”

Today airports actually want to do “more with more”. With many different stakeholders these security and surveillance systems are being transformed with more than just basic surveillance in mind. While these new technologies are increasing protection for us, it is also increasing instinctive overprotection that could be helpful in the future or most likely be more harmful to the idea of surveillance and security.

An example from our readings in the book, Supervision: an Introductory to the Surveillance Society, states that the security have had instances where they would not be doing their job watching and seeing for issues but instead looking at women’s breasts or butts just for the operators enjoyment. Some of the other findings include that security officers would follow young people and those of color disproportionately. These people are supposed to be protecting us.

On the border of the US there are high surveillance towers and high barbed wired fences to help mandate infractions and help agents to prevent anything unlawful to come across the border. There are more than plenty of differing displays of border surveillance. The European Union created the system EURODAC in 2003. This collected fingerprints and other information from individuals who were searching for sanctuary; refugees. The intentions of the EURODAC were meaningful but like any of the other technologies or regulations for security, it had changed and now is used through the creep function. This is what may have started as good intentions but has been changed by political circumstances.

I believe that people want to be protected from harm and have the right to do so. But is it against their rights to be overly searched and have their privacy invaded? These new surveillance technologies are claiming to help increase the protection of the citizens of the United States from future terrorist attacks. Studies are increasingly showing that these new policies are decreasing and falling into the state of being overprotective and aren’t very effectual in preventing crime and terrorism. The claims are truthful and have great intensions but at some point these new technologies are invading privacy and clearly prejudices and biases are getting in the way. Airports are starting to collect data that is seemingly unnecessary and it is creating friction between the security and those who plan to travel.

The surveillance production in these airports are billion dollar industries. They are invested to help and protect. The claim is true and with all good intensions but in all reality, it is just too much protection and too much security. Just for them to say that they have these technologies isn’t enough to have actual hard evidence that they work. In the end, the hard core surveillance is actually effecting and disturbing the right to privacy and crime is still present in airports today.


( http: / / / patents / US20040008253

( http: / / / contact/ 10944310 / e- anthony – incorvati Airports )

(Gilliom, John, and Torin Monahan. “Security at Any Cost?” Supervision: An Introduction Ti the Surveillance Society. Print)

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Week 6 News Digest

6 Utah stores affected in Jimmy John’s card data breach

Wednesday 24 September

Jimmy Johns (national sandwich franchise) released a list of stores affected by the card data breach, 6 out of the 216 were locations in Utah.  The login credentials were stolen from a point-of-sale vendor used by Jimmy Johns, making it so that the identity thieves could access part of the payment system. According to Jimmy Johns, customers’ names, verification codes, expiration dates, and card numbers may have been accessed in the data breach. On Wednesday the company said their system had been secured, and it was safe for customers to use payment cards again at their restaurants.

New body scanners aim to cut back on jail contraband

Wednesday 24 September

On Wednesday, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder released two new body scanning machines, called SecurPASS. These machines produce clear X-ray quality pictures and can detect anything hidden on-or inside of-inmates bodies. Every inmate changing into a jail jumpsuit in Salt Lake County Jail will be put through the machine before being released. Jail official estimate several hundred prisoners will be scanned a day, as they are planning on scanning all inmates who are transported in and out of the jail. Winder says “We know that contraband is being introduced into our facility. We tried to secure it every other way we could. But when someone has inserted it into their body, that makes it extremely difficult for us. This solves that problem.”

Police: Undercover officers able to trap man looking for teens for sex

Monday 22 September

Undercover officers set up a fake Facebook profile, and were able to catch a  52-year-old man trying to meet up with a young girl to have sex in a hotel room. The Facebook account was a fake social media profile of a 15-year-old girl. Officers say they got lucky when the man (David Kent Davis) starting talking to them without realizing he was talking to the police. Davis convinced the girl to meet him in a hotel room on a Friday afternoon, where Police were waiting for him. Davis admitted to coming to the hotel to meet up with a 15-year-old girl, and the Police were able to arrest him and charge him with a misdemeanor charge of enticing a minor over the internet.

Child Pornography Case Spurs Debate on Military’s Role in Law Enforcement

Sunday 21 September

A federal agent (Mr. Logan) working undercover signed on to a file-sharing network, sometimes used by child pornography traders. He was able to locate a computer that contained illegal photos and video, and downloaded multiple files as evidence. The owner of the computer was convicted and given an 18-year sentence at a federal prison. The problem with this case though, was that Mr. Logan was supposed to be searching for military service members trading in child pornography, not civilians. This sparked a debate over how much the military’s investigative powers can legally contribute to civilian law enforcement. One judge stated “The extraordinary nature of the surveillance here demonstrates a need to deter future violations.” The argument has been made that the military’s involvement had been minimal and Mr. Logan and colleagues had originally investigated because “we had the opportunity and the equipment”, but the case is still pending.

4chan to Emma Watson: You speak out on gender equality, we release nude photos

Monday 22 September

Emma Watson recently delivered a speech about ending gender inequality, to which a group on 4chan responded by creating a website called “Emma You Are Next.” The website is an alleged count down to a day when a 4chan user will release nude photographs of her. In part of the speech, she addressed the fact that “at 14, I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press”, which made her a target of interest for the “Emma You Are Next” site. Some are claiming the site is a hoax, but recent iCloud hacks make it hard to indicate whether or not it is real.

Movie vs. Reality. Can movie surveillance actually happen?

“Remember, remember the fifth of November.” A very famous quote from a movie where a totalitarian government rules futuristic London, and its people are watched at every second. V for Vendetta is a depiction of what could possibly happen if the government tried to monitor ordinary civilians’ every day life. The movie begins as a young women, Evey, is caught on the streets after curfew by policemen. These policemen mean to rape the young women and do her great harm. She is saved in the final moment by the anti-hero V.

Once Evey has been introduced to V, V takes Evey to see the fireworks that he has set up for the evening. Most certainly the fireworks were present on that night, but they were accompanied by the explosive demolition of the government’s courthouses. Evey goes home and tries to forget the whole incident. Little did she know that V would play a major role in her life. The next thing the government knows, V is on every single television in London calling for a rebellion on the next year’s fifth of November.

Over the course of a year, V begins his rebellion. As he builds his mutiny, he follows through on many personal vendettas against high authority figures in the government. On the fifth of November, the day V said the rebellion would take place, thousands of civilians show up to show their support of V. The movie ends, I apologize for the spoiler, with an explosion of the parliament building as a symbol of detest for the government’s totalitarian control.

All of this could have been easily avoided if the government didn’t keep a tight hold on the people. The biggest thing I think that the government did to the people was constantly lie to them. This country only had one news source and that news source came directly from the government. This means that the authorities controlled everything the people knew. When V demolished the courthouse building, the government told the people that the explosion with the fireworks was a planned demolition, with fireworks to send the building off with a bang.

The constant lies from the government was only the beginning. The government had patrol vehicles that would drive through neighborhoods and were able to record what was being said by the occupants in the houses. The fabricated news from the government was also a big issue that contributed greatly to the distrust the citizens had towards the government.

The non-stop surveillance of the government, in my opinion, did more harm than it did good. I understand that government wants to keep its people in line, and keep them safe. But there comes a point when there is just too much surveillance. There comes a point where the people can’t or won’t even speak their minds without the fear of being punished. There comes a point when the people will fight the power when they have had enough. with many revolutions in history, the fighting doesn’t start with the shot heard around the world. It gradually grows just like in V for Vendetta.

When the government started the habit of lying to the people to keep them in line, I think this is where things started to go downhill. With the constant surveillance on everyone, it was very difficult for anyone to do anything about the tyrannical government bearing down over them. The film continually showed the leader of this fictitious country as Big Brother and using all of his tools at his disposal to monitor his people. He used these devices for a very malicious cause to keep an eye over his people. He utilized these devices to rule his people with fear, and as we all know that never turns out well.

On both sides of this issue of surveillance, surveillance is helpful to both the people who are being surveyed and the people doing the surveillance. They both gain by having the safety of knowing that they’re trying to catch bad people meaning to do the country harm. On the other hand, the civilians’ privacy is all but gone. So the government has to choose either to hide their surveillance from the people, or openly admit to monitoring them at all times. I think more often than not, governments choose to hide their surveillance activity and eventually that activity gets exposed to the open public.

When we look at the reality of V for Vendetta, I think that the whole movie’s surveillance aspect is quite possible. We are already seeing forms of surveillance that we couldn’t have dreamed of 20 years ago, and I am afraid of what surveillance might be capable of becoming 20 years from now. The result from the surveillance of these people from London I think is very possible even today. The complete revolution because of the constant surveillance and lies that are always being told. If a government is treating its people unfairly the people will retaliate. In the words of V: “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.” All in all, I think that the surveillance depicted in V for Vendetta was very harmful to both the government and the people, and could quite possibly happen in today’s world.

Week 4 News Digest

Petition calls on Obama stop intimidation of journalists and whistleblowers

Monday 8 September

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) launched a petition demanding limitations to the surveillance of journalists. They have three key components to their petition, including the prohibition of the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations, the limitations of prosecutions of journalists and whistle blowers, and the termination of harassment of journalists along the US border. They were prompted to do this from evidence from the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, which reported that US and allied intelligence agencies were targeting various news organizations for surveillance. Many journalists have signed the petition, including journalists from CNN, Fox News, Associated Press, and Pen International.

Five Eyes spy pact: Transparency challenge lodged at European rights court

Tuesday 9 September

The Five Eyes spy pact that authorizes the sharing of intelligence between Britain, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be made transparent, according to an appeal launched at the European Court of Human Rights. The pact outlines the collaborations between the security agencies of multiple countries and how they pass on information. The Privacy International group (PI) issued an appeal to make it transparent this Tuesday. Currently the countries that are part of the Five Eyes pact share the information of citizens around the world constantly. If the appeal goes through, then the rules of the Five Eyes pact and how they deal with this information shall be made transparent.

U.S. threatened Yahoo with $250,000-a-day fine for withholding user data

Thursday 11 September

Yahoo! Inc claimed that the government of the U.S. threatened them in 2008 of a fine of $250000 a day in they didn’t comply with national security requests for user’s data. Yahoo challenged the NSA’s requests in court in 2007, and the documents of the case have been released today. They were the only company to refuse the requests in that era, choosing to fight against the requests instead of compromising the security of their users. The case was held in at the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which usually keeps all its cases secret. Even with the recent declassification of the case, portions of the documents remain sealed and classified.

City used high-tech tracking software at ‘13 Boston Calling

Monday 8 September

The city of Boston spent $650,000 to test surveillance software during last year’s Boston Calling music festival, using the technology to record the crowds of concertgoers without their knowledge. Boston was testing the software provided by IBM called “situational awareness” software that can use existing cameras. The city of Boston confirmed the use of the software when a journalist found documents from the project off the internet, which was uploaded by an IBM employee to a public server. The city is unclear if the software is impractical, however Boston remains interested in the practical use of the product. Situational awareness software is supposed to analyze video and indicate if an event of urgency is occurring.

Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program

Tuesday 6 September

The U.S. Justice department has recently declassified a memo from 2004 that approved surveillance and data collection activities for the NSA. The activities regard the Stellarwind program, a secret program instated by George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. The Obama administration voluntarily released the memo. A version was released in 2011 that was more heavily redacted, but this version still contains several other redactions as well. Some instances of core censored information from the memo include reasons for why the Justice Department made recording bulk emails from citizens illegal but permitted warrantless wiretapping and collection of phone records. The operations of the phone collection became public in December 2005, but the email operations didn’t until the Snowden Leak.