Theses Master's

Our Vulnerable Privacy: The Effects of Ubiquitous Techno-Surveillance Programs on Sociological Expectations of Privacy

Choksi, Madiha Zahrah

In the 21st century, ubiquitous technologies strengthen ubiquitous surveillance. Although the right to privacy is protected by the Constitution, challenges persist with respect to how it is interpreted in an age of data-rich technologies. This paper examines how the deficiencies of the Fourth Amendment in an age of techno-surveillance contribute to the widening scope and success of modern surveillance. The discussion outlines how modern communications technologies have coalesced with surveillance programs of the New York City Police Department, the National Security Agency, and commercial applications such as Facebook, and identifies how intractable institutional programs contribute to a lasting cultural effect in our society. The result is a snowballing effect of normalization: an identifiable cultural change in sociological expectations of privacy. On the one hand, state authorities such as the NSA can monitor and intercept all activity and interactions, with or without a warrant. Along the same lines, data collection on Facebook thrives through its commercialized “opt-out” or pseudo-participatory model, in which consent is assumed or obtained covertly. While technological advances and legal reality are the common denominators of all three institutional models considered in this paper, Facebook’s surveillance structure presents the best opportunity for sociocultural expectations to oscillate. The threats posed by Facebook on freedom and autonomy are causing alarm and panic that, for the first time, are forming ripples of action against pervasive surveillance.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Moglen, Eben
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2019