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Surveillance – Much More Widespread

Adrian Mudd   September 20, 2013

On-line surveillance has been seen increasingly regularly in the news media internationally, with governments across the world facing questions about their use of technologies and what is done with the data acquired. However, it is not just national offices using on-line surveillance, and it is in fact incredibly widespread.

PC monitoring and computer surveillance monitors all computer activity, with modern investigations being primarily concerned with data transferred over the internet. With a substantial numbers of transactions and business arrangements taking place on-line, it makes the internet market a vulnerable place requiring significant protection and security measures. Where these are slightly flawed, or with the determined efforts of ‘hackers,’ information can be obtained as it moves through the network.

Surveillance On The Web

Nearly all internet traffic and use will be monitored for signs of any illegal activities and you can see if illegality or widespread and common cyber issues are affecting you through our computer monitoring devices. Searches into websites such as Google are observed, with particular keywords raising alerts to relevant authorities. Individuals pursuing suspicious lines of enquiry, for example, researching homemade weaponry, might expect to be called to explain their motivations. Supporters of on-line surveillance believe that in watching internet use, potential criminal activity can be identified earlier, protecting society from terrorism or other criminal threat. Critics think that personal privacy, notions of freedom of speech and consumer rights are justification for removing monitoring, arguing that it is impossible for one organisation to determine what constitutes as ‘threatening’ uses and that ultimately totalitarian control will emerge over individual activities.

Storing Information

It has many more applications than just in crime prevention, however. Online surveillance is used regularly in marketing. Corporations are increasingly reliant on web-based advertising, and so there is a substantial market for user data which can be put towards tailored marketing strategies offering the most relevant advertisements to each individual. Alternatively, the data harvested can be sold to other corporations, enabling them to analyse search engine histories and email keywords to create a database of information.

In a clear example of this, Google – the world’s most popular and widely used search engine – stores information specific to each individual web search. The keyword or phrase is stored with the IP address for a period of up to a year and a half. Google is also able to scan the email content of those messages sent on its Google mail service, allowing them to create their own targeted and focussed adverts. Many millions of websites and companies use Google to distribute their advertising banners and links, relying on this targeted advertising to bring in revenue.

We recently covered a topic similar to this, in our detailed and insightful article PC Monitoring – The Future of Surveillance.