The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You

Course No. 9363
Professor Paul Rosenzweig, JD
The George Washington University Law School
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Course No. 9363
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What Will You Learn?

  • Review three types of surveillance-physical, electronic and data-and see how each type works.
  • Review some of the many public and private uses of drones, and then consider policy issues such as what factors constitute permissible use of drone footage.
  • Investigate the techniques by which foreign governments infiltrate each other, ponder the ethics of these actions, and think through the appropriate responses.
  • Dive into privacy issues and security issues using the Fifth Amendment perspective.
  • Trace the history of the news media from the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks.
  • Explore legal issues surrounding metadata gathering in the years after 9/11, and whether it violates the 4th Amendment protection.

Course Overview

A police officer places a GPS device on a suspected drug dealer’s car to trace his whereabouts and build a case against him. A popular retail store uses predictive analytics to send pregnancy-related advertising to a teenager who has yet to tell her parents about her condition. A Kentucky man shoots down a neighbor’s drone that is flying over his private property.

The news is full of stories like these, in which new technologies lead to dilemmas that could not have been imagined just a few decades ago. The 21st century has seen remarkable technological advances, with many wonderful benefits. But with these advances come new questions about privacy, security, civil liberties, and more. Big Data is here, which means that government and private industries are collecting massive amounts of information about each of us—information that may be used in marketing, to help solve criminal investigations, and to promote the interests of national security. Pandora’s Box has been opened, but in many ways the government is behind the times, relying on legislation from the 1970s to inform its stance on regulating the collection and use of this information. Our society now faces a host of critical questions, including:

  • Where is the line between promoting national security and defending personal liberty?
  • What information may the government collect about you from your Internet service provider?
  • When it comes to search and seizure, is a cell phone any different from a diary?
  • How will we respond to future technologies such as quantum computers and artificial intelligence?

Explore these questions and more in The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You. Taught by Paul Rosenzweig, J.D., esteemed legal expert and professorial lecturer at The George Washington University School of Law, these 24 revealing lectures tackle the tough questions about surveillance and data in the 21st century. Get an insider’s look at how technology from search engines to your car’s toll road transponder gathers information about American citizens. With Professor Rosenzweig’s guidance, you’ll scrutinize our system of oversight for intelligence agencies, and you’ll consider the ways in which the information that is collected impacts (or potentially impacts) our civil liberties. He presents the facts objectively, giving you the information you need to draw your own conclusions.

Covering everything from the legal framework for surveillance to the structure of the U.S. intelligence community to the myriad technologies that capture and analyze data, The Surveillance State offers a window into crucial events that are happening around us right now—and shows the challenging balance we all confront between personal privacy and national security.

Examine the Legal Framework for Surveillance

Technology has made our lives easier in recent years so that now, via a computer in our pockets, we can search nearly the entire corpus of human knowledge, connect with friends around the world, monitor our health, and much more. One theme running through this course is the way technology often outpaces the law. As predicted by Moore’s Law, our processing power is doubling every couple of years while the cost of data storage is dropping rapidly. This has ushered in the era of “Big Data,” enabling tech companies and intelligence agencies to collect and analyze countless points of information about everyone—our habits, our preferences, our interests.

Big Data represents a significant challenge to our concepts of privacy, and it threatens the possibility of preserving any kind of anonymity. But the laws that might protect us were written in the 1970s, before the invention of cell phones, the Internet, and even the personal computer. Mr. Rosenzweig gives you the history of laws from FISA legislation in the 1970s to the Patriot Act after 9/11, and he brings in relevant Supreme Court cases and executive actions to paint a picture of the laws and policies around surveillance today—and the questions for law- and policy-makers tomorrow.

Related to law, the structure of the intelligence community itself—and its oversight—plays a major role in how surveillance works. You’ll take a detailed look at what the intelligence community does and how it operates in practice, looking at such things as:

  • physical surveillance (eavesdroppers, satellite imagery, wiretapping)
  • electronic or signals intelligence (code-breaking, intercepting emails, metadata)
  • “dataveillance” (the collection and analysis of data)
  • security classifications
  • special operations
  • oversight committees

Who Watches the Watchers?

The questions of oversight and restraint are key challenges for the surveillance state. For instance, there was, beginning in the 1970s, a legislative wall between surveillance for national security and for criminal investigation. While this wall was designed to protect our constitutional rights, it makes it difficult for agencies to “connect the dots” when terrorists orchestrate plots such as 9/11.

So who watches the watchers? And what is the psychological effect of surveillance, both on the watcher and the watched? To help frame the discussion, Mr. Rosenzweig examines Jeremy Benthem’s Panopticon, a theoretical prison with an all-seeing eye, which has become a metaphor for a state of total (and anonymous) surveillance. A riveting lecture on the East German Stasi state shows just how terrifying such a state could be.

The opposite situation, however, can be just as dangerous. If our government offers too little transparency, it risks abuses of power. But too much transparency presents a general security risk. Imagine if the details of the Osama Bin Laden raid had been leaked ahead of time—it would have compromised the entire operation.

To help frame this debate, you’ll examine challenges to the law and the efforts journalists and other whistleblowers have made to ensure greater transparency, including issues around:

  • the Pentagon Papers
  • WikiLeaks
  • Bradley (Chelsea) Manning
  • Edward Snowden

What right do we have to access the information these leakers released? Are there times when journalists should show restraint? And in an age of citizen-journalism, what responsibilities does each of us have in this ethical dilemma?

Make Your Own Decisions about Policy and Ethics

The debate over surveillance and privacy is hardly limited to the government. In fact, private industries likely have even more information about us on file—and with less oversight and regulation. The “Internet of Things” holds great promise for the future, where “smart” thermostats can maintain an optimal temperature in our home and self-regulating insulin machines can free diabetics from routine shots. But these technologies leave intimately revealing data trails, so private companies know what we are searching for and how we spend our days—as well as some of our deepest, darkest secrets.

Who owns this data? Should private industries be allowed to sell this information to third parties? Does the government need a warrant to access it in the name of national security? How transparent do private companies need to be when gathering data about us? And is it possible to go completely off the grid via methods such as the TOR network or Bitcoin?

These are difficult questions, and our society will continue to face even more challenges as technology continues to advance. While this course offers you a framework for answering these questions, as well as the tools and examples to fully understand the issues, Mr. Rosenzweig leaves it to you to reach your own conclusions. When you complete The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You, you will have all the facts you need to make your own reasonable choices—and take a first step toward an empowered future.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 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 responsible for creating laws often have internal conflicts about the role of privacy and security-as illustrated by a dramatic face-off over John Ashcroft's hospital bed. x
  • 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 considering this question, review three types of surveillance-physical, electronic and data-and see how each type works. Case studies of the Osama Bin Laden raid and U.S. airport screening show the tension between security and transparency. x
  • 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 East Germans was a spy-keeping tabs on neighbors, friends and family. Survey the history of this insidious surveillance state and think about the lessons it can teach us today. x
  • 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 in the 1950s and 1960s, Congress and the Supreme Court stepped in to oversee the intelligence world with several powerful measures in the 1970s. x
  • 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 back to the 1978 FISA legislation, which erected a wall" between intelligence gathering and criminal investigations. Review the reasons for and the history of this legislation and the changes that happened after 9/11." x
  • 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 of gathering and analyzing intelligence, including some of the key challenges in the process. x
  • 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 decide upon and enact laws and policies trail behind new developments in technology, and this lecture examines the potential inherent in such deep and widespread data-as well as the threat it poses to privacy and anonymity. x
  • 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. Here, reflect on the nature of privacy and consider the two extremes: a Panopticon world of total surveillance on the one hand, and complete invisibility on the other. x
  • 9
    Under Observation: The Panopticon Effect
    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 is a corporation under public scrutiny or someone chastised on social media. Consider the psychological implications of observation-on both the observed and the observer. " x
  • 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 consider policy issues such as: what constitutes permissible use of drone video footage? What safety regulations are appropriate? How can we reconcile civil liberties with the right to privacy? x
  • 11
    Biometrics: Eyes, Fingers, Everything
    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 to DNA analysis. While there are many benefits to this technology, you'll also see the darker side of this data unleashed in the world. x
  • 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 by which governments infiltrate each other, ponder the ethics of these actions, and think through the appropriate responses. x
  • 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 closed-circuit cameras to license plate readers, and explore how the NYPD has put all the pieces together. x
  • 14
    Geolocation: Tracking You and Your Data
    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 a social media check-in) to the improperly acquired (such as cell phone spying). Then see what investigators can do with such data. x
  • 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 though the surveillance program has oversight, some people fear the potential for abuse is high. Look at both sides of the issue. x
  • 16
    Metadata: Legal or Not
    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 and seizure." x
  • 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 the computer era. Find out what expectations of privacy we have regarding email and phone metadata, airport travel, and our smart phones. x
  • 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 aggregation and predictive analytics, and explore the complicated legal and ethical questions surrounding the commercial collection and use of data. x
  • 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 come with a cost in terms of the data they aggregate. Who owns the data? How can it be used? What are the responsibilities of the data collectors? x
  • 20
    Anonymity: Going off the Grid
    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. Take a look at two tools people use in pursuit of Internet anonymity: TOR networks and Bitcoin currency. x
  • 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 back door" for government access, the intelligence community argues, national security is at risk. Unpack the tension from a Fifth Amendment perspective." x
  • 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 America's approach toward privacy is generally similar, here you'll compare the legal state of data collection in both the public and private realms to find out where the differences lie." x
  • 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 Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks, and draw your own conclusions about what information should be published and who should be allowed to publish it. x
  • 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 privacy and security-for ourselves and for future generations. Recap what you've learned to determine your vision of the best way forward from here. x

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Your professor

Paul Rosenzweig

About Your Professor

Paul Rosenzweig, JD
The George Washington University Law School
Paul Rosenzweig is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at The George Washington University Law School. He earned his JD from the University of Chicago Law School and then served as a law clerk to the Honorable R. Lanier Anderson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He was chosen as the 15th annual Sommerfeld Lecturer at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School and was awarded a Carnegie...
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Reviews

The Surveillance State: Big Data, Freedom, and You is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 30.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Historical, Looks at both sides, inightful to surv I'm only part way yet. Have enjoyed the historical perspective, looking at both sides of surveillance (too much and too little), and considering all types of surveillance.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite relevant to current events The most topical of subjects. Very important for understanding daily news.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My Favorite Courses: Contemporary Issues I looked forward to every lecture and I'm happy that I selected the video format. The professor is an excellent speaker and the course was well-researched and very thought provoking. As I was nearing the end of the course, I saw the movie "The Circle, which was very relevant to the subject matter in this course. I now have a better understanding of the issues involved in this arena. I worked as a privacy officer in a large corporation when the field was in its infancy and appreciated this overview of the contemporary issues and technology issues we are now facing.
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and timely but somewhat disturbing This is a very interesting overview of the subject of surveillance and privacy issues particularly related to recent advances in technology. Professor Rosenzweig is obviously very familiar with this subject and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the various related legal cases that have arisen. His presentation style is professional yet informal and he is able to hold the attention of the viewer or listener. The course is surprisingly up to date, as he discusses the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris in early 2015. However, the course was apparently released before the San Bernardino terrorist attack in late 2015, which resulted in an important legal issue relating to allowing the government to gain access to the phone of the terrorist. Although the course is primarily concerned with historical and legal issues, he did go into some of the basic principles involved in the technology, for instance encryption techniques. One of the most disturbing aspects of the subject that was discussed during this course was the revelation that, in contrast with European democracies, there is no fundamental right to personal privacy in the US. He discussed the fact that in Europe, citizens can require search engines such as Google to remove information from their files that the citizen does not want to be in the public domain. In the US, the only recourse is apparently for the citizen to sue the organization that published the information for slander, and then the litigant has to prove that the information is false. He quoted one instance in which some very personal information was revealed about a female head of one of the large tech companies (how that information even got on the Internet in the first place is beyond me). I'll have to admit, however, that I am a little confused on this subject, because Professor Rosenzweig also provided statistics on the number of requests that have been made to remove material from Google, comparing citizens of the US and some European countries. If we don't have a right to privacy, I don't understand what the grounds would be for Americans to request Google to delete information. Another issue that I find somewhat disturbing is the concept of the Internet of Things or Internet of Everything. Many observers of current technological trends believe that a great many if not most devices we use in our lives will eventually become connected to the Internet. It is already happening: on a recent shopping trip, I noticed that the store was selling slow cookers (Crock-Pot type appliances) that could be connected to the Internet so the user could presumably control them remotely with their smart phones. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but why not simply provide electronic timers that would turn them on and off at programmed times. After all, the user has to set up the appliance ahead of time before leaving anyway. Having so many devices on the Internet provides virtually unlimited possibilities for hacking by those wishing to do us harm. In fact, he did discuss the situation when former Vice President Dick Cheney was temporarily placed in charge when President Bush was undergoing a medical procedure, and Mr. Cheney had his pacemaker temporarily disconnected so it could not be hacked in order to assassinate him. In summary, this was a very interesting and timely course about the implications of modern technology on our lives and our legal rights. I highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest at all in the subject.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course Honestly, I was looking for something else, but this course really exceeded my expectations. Comprehensive and reach material based on latest information technologies , really smart approach to discussed subjects, professor Rosenzweig shows deep knowledge and skillfully brings it to the audience. I definitely recommend this to everybody who is using Internet, e.g. literally everybody.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Legal Foundation of Surveillance This course provided the legal background of powers entrusted to the state and of rights to privacy. It is reassuring that where there is rule of law the tension between privacy and surveillance for state purposes can be modified as technology changes. The many examples and case studies help to illustrate the difficulties of achieving an equitable balance.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scary and Informative A few years ago the Great Courses presented Paul Rosenzweig's course on Cybersecurity. This course on the surveillance state takes the same look at the current of data and information, including personal, state, national, and corporate, but from a 35,000 ft level. It's both scary and informative. It is almost impossible to "Be Forgotten" (to use the words of one of the lecture titles) in this country. Our data is out there and it's being collected, evaluated, and manipulated. This is a thoughtful presentation on the state of data collection in this country and around the world and I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Surveillance State I have wanted to return this course. While much information is interesting, the bias and unsubstantiated propaganda is a disservice to all - especially if students assume the information to be factual.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and Relevant Information for all! This is a fascinating course by a professional in the surveillance field. It is relevant to today's news! The course covers surrveillance in the past, such as in East Germany. It covers surveillance in the present, by wiretapping and drones. It covers the expected future of surveillance and related legislation. The course goes from the macro level--surveillance by global satellites-- to the micro level --surveillance via personal conversations, in private. The lecturer is easy to listen to, with good organization and amazing ideas. The only drawback of this series is The Great Courses using music to interrupt the speaker at the end of each lecture! It is much better to have polite applause when the speaker has completely finished!
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative And Extremely Relevant Professor Rosenzweig provides a highly detailed and balanced review of the perils and benefits of our online, interconnected society. I believe that anyone using smart phones and internet devices should be aware of where their information might wind up and this course is the perfect means to obtain that knowledge.
Date published: 2016-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mandatory knowlege for 21st centruy This was a fabulous course! 1) The content is absolutely relevant to work, play, privacy, and any form of social involvement. People tend to think of surveillance issues as relevant only to protection against terrorism, however, as the Professor points out who's 'guarding the guards'. Privacy invasion techniques can be used on everyday Americans, competitors, rival politicians, politically vocal artists, etc. 2) Professor Rosenzweig is knowledgeable, easy to listen to, and provides ample doses of relevant examples, I really hope to see more courses by him. I really enjoyed this course and give it my highest recommendations.
Date published: 2016-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely worthwhile course Prof. Rosenzweig takes a very complicated subject and breaks it down into thoughtful individual lectures. His goal, successfully accomplished in my opinion, is to provide factual information to allow the viewer to think about the precarious balance between security and privacy. I found the course informative, timely, and provocative. Very well done!
Date published: 2016-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic!!! Love this unique package. Content is comprehensive and well structured. Would have loved it to be slower of course but guess it's still great. Listen up to 3 times and wow!!! Very very....highly recommended
Date published: 2016-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everything you need to know about surveillance This is a great course. The professor is knowledgeable and loves his field. This course will catch you up on all the concepts and issues surrounding the subject. I ove this course!
Date published: 2016-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great survey of a cutting edge issue One might think about this course as an encyclopedia of surveillance issues and not be wrong. It is very comprehensive and detailed about the mind boggling number of ways we are surveilled, about the risks and rewards of that surveillance, about the "unsteady and unstable" state of the legal issues and about where to go from here. Courses like this that survey a subject comprehensively, when well done, are very worthwhile but can sometimes be plodding. Not this course. I enjoyed every minute of it. Professor Rosenzwieg does an excellent job of keeping the course moving and interesting. Many who listen to this course will be familiar with the general situation of ubiquitous surveillance by both government and private actors. I found the professors insights even in those familiar areas enriching: 9/11, Snowden, license plate and toll road monitoring, cell phone tracking, commercial monitoring for marketing, and on and on. As a plus I found many details and perspectives unexpected and surprising. I'd never heard of gunshot montioring. I particularly liked the discussion of federal versus local government surveillance, how we react to them differently, and how they may or may not differ in kind. And if you like complexity just try to grasp the discussion on national versus foreign laws affecting the tech giants. Can we regulate our way through this labyrinth? Do we want to regulate our tech corporations to protect our privacy, to protect our security? There may not be any answers here but the questions are asked and discussed by a very good professor.
Date published: 2016-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The "Fundamental Tension" Defined / Explained Well The fundamental tension includes the fine balance between limited government enablers, controls and policies protection of civil liberties as viewed from contemporary history through today's known threats, technology, and data security / controls. As you learn, each key policy decision that attempts to balance the fundamental tension / interpretations must have the flexibility to evolve overtime. Citizen awareness and recognition of these factors will only strengthen resolve for consistent definition of freedom, privacy, and investment in the defense of these rights as granularity around controls and the law evolve. I'd like to thank the instructor for taking on such a massive challenge to communicate what can be known about these tensions given today's internal / external threats and providing awareness to what are the right questions to ask about our US Civil Liberties as time / advancements in technology evolve. Thank you.
Date published: 2016-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course But Did Not Stress One Key Point At the beginning of this course, Professor Rosenzweig quoted a 1999 statement from the then CEO of Sun Microcomputer – “privacy is dead, get over it”. What was true for 1999 is even more true 17 years later. This is no real privacy in a world of electronic transactions, surveillance, drones, etc. For the majority of this course, Professor Rosenzweig discusses government surveillance and the associated laws, processes and policies to monitor such activities. The government has the difficult challenge of collecting information to provide security for its citizens but also not being in a position to abuse such power. Professor Rosenzweig provides several examples of instances in various parts of the world where such power was abused. The government may be collecting some information about its citizens but that amount of that information is a small when compared with all of the big data that is being collected by corporations. All corporations and especially those corporations with membership or frequent buyer programs have the potential of collecting data about their customers. That data may be anonymous such as how many customers will use a particular service at a particular time of day or that data could be customer specific such as which products do the customers purchase so that they can be sent coupons. As Professor Rosenzweig mentions in the course, while there are controls in place for government collection of big data information, there are virtually no controls or regulations on the corporation collection and use of information about individuals. Permissions to collect such information is freely given by the citizens and usually without bothering to read the associate terms and conditions of the loyalty program, smartphone app, web browser, social media, etc. While Professor Rosenzweig to did use Target, Microsoft, Acxion, Facebook, Alibaba, and others as examples of corporations that collect information, the one key point that Professor Rosenzweig did not stress was that the owners of some corporations may not be in the US and that it is not clear how any future legislation would apply to the big data collected by such corporations. The following are some examples: - The owners of your cellular service may be in Japan or Germany. - The owners of your favorite gasoline company may be in England, Netherlands, or Venezuela. - The owners of the maker of your smartphone, PC, or tablet may be in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Finland or Sweden. - The owners of your favorite theater and their loyalty program may be in China. In lecture 18, Professor Rosenzweig described the corporate environment on big data as the “digital wild west without law or order”. I fully agree with that analogy. I hope Professor Rosenzweig won’t mind when I use his analogy when I talk to friends and neighbors. In summary, this is an excellent course that everybody should take to get a sense of the state of their privacy, or lack thereof.
Date published: 2016-04-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Discussion on Balance of Privacy and Security If you are interested in studying the history and techniques of surveillance and the risks they pose to individual privacy you should love this course. For me personally, at the conclusion of the course I was left with a mixed impression. I think I learned that I was much more interested in how technological advances are leading to our sense of privacy being eroded. vs. the discussion on general government surveillance. So the first half of the course just did not capture my attention and seemed uninteresting but this was more of a reflection on my own interests than on the professor's presentation. The most interesting discussions in these lectures to me seemed to have been rehashes of what was discussed in the “Thinking about Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare” course. The second half of the course really picked up---specifically the lectures that discussed legal cases involving new technology and the implications for privacy and security. It is clear that the courts are unwilling to make blanket decisions on some of these hot-button items and would prefer for societal views to evolve and crystallize. Really fascinating stuff. Lectures 12, 14, 17-21 were tops. Overall I think the Professor did a good job of illuminating the fact that these topics remain relevant in today's world and how the general population (and the courts) all have different views on where the line between privacy and security should be drawn. He is extremely knowledgeable in this space and I absolutely loved his Cybersecurity course.
Date published: 2016-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and troubling... Probably everyone in our modern world goes around with a feeling that there are many things going on with private information and privacy in general, particularly on the web, that they do not know and that they probably should be worried about. This is the reason I decided to hear this course. I was not disappointed; I am indeed troubled after having heard it. Rozenzweig provides quite a comprehensive overview of privacy and surveillance from many different aspects such as using drones, biometrics and so forth. Obviously, the main focus is on electronic communications - particularly on the web. Rozenzweig’s perspective, though quite comprehensive, is a bit stilted towards the legal aspects of the issue. Rozenzweig chose to focus primarily on privacy in interaction with the federal government, such as the different surveillance agency’s methods of following and reading our mail communications, mapping our social connection networks and intercepting our cellular communications. Central portions of the course are dedicated to discussing how much of this is legal, and who gets to decide if it is or isn’t. A central question of the course is how to balance the government’s duty to provide security, while at the same time providing adequate privacy and freedom. Rozenzweig states that for many people, the threat of privacy infraction from commercial companies such as Google and Facebook is much more troubling than governmental infraction. After all, we are sort of used to the government spying on us. With regards to commercial companies, this is much more of a new phenomenon. I happen to belong to this camp, and I was therefore a bit disappointed that these aspects played second fiddle to the federal role and all in all, did not receive comprehensive enough coverage in my opinion. Another shocking point that I took away, was how totally bereft of any privacy rights I was from the perspective of the US government - not being a “US person”; even more so than American citizens. This US policy has already caused quite a lot of foreign relations friction for the US with other countries and will undoubtedly continue to do so… Professor Rozenzweig’s presentation was interesting and seemed effortless and natural for him. The tone was conversational and casual, although the content was in many cases quite complex and profound. Overall I deeply enjoyed the course and found it to be well presented and interesting, though as I have mentioned, some of the aspects I was most interested in understanding did not receive as much focus as I would have liked.
Date published: 2016-03-13
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