Creation of a list of Tech Surveillance Practices

hello there,

what do you say about creating a list of the overall tech surveillance practices present today?

We could start by adding cases and cases and then start thinking about how to structure it.

Let me know what you think :slight_smile:

Surveillance categories and practices:

Computer Surveillance:

  • Social Network Analysis
  • Data Mining and Profiling
  • E-mail and Phone Calls monitoring – e.g. Carnivore
  • Keylogging or keyboard capturing - e.g. Magic Lantern
  • CIPAV – Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier
  • EMR – Electromagnetic Radiation e.g. Tempest
  • Deep packet inspection

Biometric Surveillance:

  • Facial Recognition
  • Voice Recognition
  • Fingerprinting
  • Iris Scan
  • DNA tracking
  • Backscatter X-Ray

Telephone & Mobile phone Surveillance:

  • Phone tracking - via GMS
  • Wiretap
  • Bugs
  • Multilateration
  • Pen register
  • Trap device
  • Trace device
  • Phone permissions abuse
  • IMSI catchers

Internet Surveillance:

  • Optical Fiber Cable taps
  • Relationship Mapping Software
  • Spyware
  • IP monitoring System
  • Underwater internet cables mirroring
  • Location tracking - via GPS/WiFi
  • Cookies
  • Browser fingerprinting
  • Website fingerprinting
  • VOIP - Voice over IP

Financial Surveillance:

  • Financial Control System
  • Bank screening and profiling
  • Bank transfers

Camera & Video Surveillance:

  • Video Surveillance CCTVs
  • UAV – Unmanned Aereial Vehicle

Car & Location Surveillance:

  • GPS
  • RFID - Radio Frequency Identification Chips
  • ALPRs - Automated License Plate Readers
  • EAS - Electronic Article Surveillance

Aerial & Space Surveillance:

  • Drones
  • UAV - systems armed with missiles that can be targeted
  • Satellite


  • Bug detection tools
  • Wearable cameras
  • ECM – Electronic Countermeasure such as ELINT and SIGINT
  • Camera finders
  • Speech protection systems
  • Jammers
  • Voice changers
  • RF signal detectors
  • Trackers detectors
  • Credit card skimmer detector
  • White noise generator
  • Masking speaker device

Great, I’ve added some

1 Like

Thanks a lot for structuring it. I see you structured it by target of the surveillance but I think computer surveillance is mixing some targets. I would advocate for doing the following classification instead:

  • Data surveillance (what I will call second order surveillance)

    • Social Network Analysis
    • Data Mining and Profiling
  • Device surveillance

    • E-mail and Phone Calls monitoring e.g. Carnivore
    • Keylogging or keyboard capturing - e.g. Magic Lantern

So let me know if you agree. On the rest of this post I basically try to explain an idea behind this classification.

Basically what I’m trying to articulate is that there is surveillance that is done directly and surveillance which happens in the information processing. But I think the concept requires some scrutiny and maybe you (@Sean) have something to say about it. So I’ll try to explain it.

Orders of surveillance

Probably someone has already though about it in these terms but I haven’t heard before. And so I don’t know if it has a name, but I’ll call it orders of surveillance (as in first order surveillance, second order surveillance)

The privacy harms as defined by Solove are the different ways in which privacy can be breached.

There we see that in surveillance fits into Information collection. But I would argue that some types of surveillance also happen in information processing.

For example:

  • information collection surveillance

    • Optical Fiber Cable taps
    • Spyware
    • email and phone calls monitoring
  • information processing surveillance

    • Social Network Analysis
    • Data Mining and Profiling

Information collection (done namely though surveillance) creates a virtual data world on which surveillance (processing) can be done yet another time. So I would call the first type first order surveillance and the next type second order surveillance.

Source of Idea

I think I came across this idea when Snowden mentioned in his book something along the lines of the “redefinition of words to justify surveillance”

If communications records would only be considered definitively “obtained” once they were used, they could remain “unobtained” but collected in storage forever, raw data awaiting its future manipulation.

Final note on classification of surveillance

This though was just one idea on how surveillance practices can be classified. We’re doing this on a 2d “paper”. Probably a lot more classifications would be possible, but I think classifying it as you did (by the target of the surveillance) is the best in terms of clarity. Good work :).

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Ok, a small note on the category strategy. I think your overall pattern has been

  • [surveillance target] (what is being surveilled)
    • [surveillance method 1]
    • [surveillance method 2]
    • … list of surveillance methods for given target

And in the above of course the primary target is always a person, but I mean what is directly surveilled.

Let me know @Sean if you agree that this is what was the classification you were aiming for.

But there is one category (apart from the counter-surveillance), which misses this pattern:

Here, the category is instead the surveillance source. But I think that’s fine. I though I’d just bring this to your attention.

I couldn’t come up with a better name for it (I though maybe “earth surface surveillance” though that doesn’t sound right).

1 Like

Hello there @core and thanks for your important feedback.

To be honest, I just had been spending time on creating a list of most technological surveillance practices around the world. Then, I tried to create some categories in order to list them as best as possible. However, all of this is a draft for now and I would actually like to develop it a little bit more. For this, I think that whenever you will have the time to propose a list following the division of first order and second order surveillance to see how it looks.

Right now I was also thinking to do this for my work, for which right now I would like to: - blend some of those categories (e.g. computer with the internet; camera&video with telephone&mobilephones) - in order to be able to talk about it extensively

  • found more examples for the financial surveillance category.

PS: do you have the Snowden’s in ebook version by any chance?
PSi: I have been reading Solove and its super interesting. Last thing I have read was this “I’ve Got Nothing to Hide” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy"