Photo by Sean MacEntee / Available on Flickr
By Aimee Thomson
The recent and ongoing disclosures by Edward Snowden have revealed massive U.S. government-operated surveillance programs that vacuum up almost every aspect of modern communication in the name of national security. Since the first documents came to light last June, a broad coalition of civil rights and privacy advocates has demanded reform of the substantive laws and procedural safeguards underlying these programs. Six months later, however, domestic surveillance remains little changed.
A full exploration of the legal authority for, and scope and use of, the signals intelligence collected by the National Security Agency (NSA) exceeds the scope of this article. But, in brief, the revealed surveillance programs fall into two principal legal categories.
Nicole A. Ozer
Online privacy issues are now “above the fold,” both literally and figuratively. Consumers, companies, and policymakers increasingly think about collection and control of personal information, and the media prominently highlights these issues. But there is very little scholarship that reflects on the factors that have contributed to this recent increase in attention. And there is a dearth of scholarship that specifically analyzes how privacy advocates have started to face and overcome the challenges typical to building and sustaining any type of social movement, as well as challenges that make collective action around privacy issues particularly difficult, such as informational disparities and behavioral tendencies. This article provides a behind-the-scenes analysis of how recent factors have enabled the privacy community to create the climate necessary for a social movement to start to coalesce—a movement that can keep issues of online privacy above the fold in sustained ways and support real online privacy reform. The article assesses two recent privacy incidents, and it highlights how the privacy community has been able to mobilize—based on these incidents—to move beyond piecemeal responses and start to build a social movement and influence corporate change. Finally, the article identifies remaining obstacles that must be overcome for the movement to be successful and suggests a focus for legal and policy work to meet these challenges.
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