Claims of ‘Terror Threat’ Fuel Western Surveillance States

Internet to Phone, Western Citizens Are Being Watched

Surveillance is a growth industry across the West nowadays. The revelations that governments are claiming new powers to track citizens, almost always using “terrorism” as an excuse, are coming fast and furious. Powers that were never debated, never authorized, but simply claimed are the order of the day.

In Britain, we learned today of a plan for 100% surveillance across the entire Internet, with British spies hoping to read every web visit and every email sent in real time. The question is if the program is practical or not, but as rights groups complain there seems little doubt that the effort will be attempted, if not accomplished.

But the Brits may feel at least somewhat lucky that they aren’t in France, where the claim to surveillance is not only taken for granted already, but President Nicolas Sarkozy is also claiming the right to imprison citizens for reading certain websites seen as too sympathetic to terrorism. The threatened arrests, and several actual arrests of French Muslims as “extremists,” comes in the wake of the deadly Mohamed Merah shootings, and as Sarkozy looks to secure an election victory in a heated race with a far-right opposition.

Americans aren’t immune to the growing surveillance state either. A new report from the ACLU shows that the use of cellphone GPS data to track Americans without legal oversight is growing common not just for FBI types, but for rural police as well. The Supreme Court ruled recently that law enforcement can’t install GPS trackers on cars to track people without a warrant, but declined to rule on cellphones, which have the “feature” built in.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.