It is said that within the Soviet Union, one out people people — that’s 20 per cent — were informants or agents working on behalf of the central government.
Today, we have automated machines and unmanned drones that do the dirty work, for groups like the NSA and CIA.
Take your laptop, as an example.
For most people, the form of protection they use is a password or a series of passwords. But an automated machine can go through millions of password combinations, and then access most of your personal information, especially if you use the same password for more than one login.
As we’ve recently found out with Wikileaks’s Vault 7 document release, government agencies don’t necessarily need to hack into your laptop any more; they either hack into the databases of various companies that store your password, or compel the company to change their encryption so that they can have access to it.
The FBI tried to do that to Apple in 2016, even taking them to court. Thankfully, Apple chose not to compel with the FBI. But, unfortunately, it’s rumoured that the government can already hack into the company's servers as well as the technology itself.
Another method of mass surveillance involves using unmanned drones for warrantless domestic spying.
These unmanned drones can have IMSI-catchers attached to them that pick up the signals from your phone heading towards radio towers.
Everyone’s phone has a SIM chip that carries the user’s basic information. Imsi-catchers act like middlemen between you and the cell phone tower by sending out louder electrical signals that disrupt your connection. They then are able to not only listen in on your conversations, but also track where you’re going.
If there’s an established connection between you and the IMSI-catcher, it’s difficult to shake them off, especially if they’re using a drone. Other carriers of IMSI-catchers can be cars and motorcycles.
It’s pretty easy to get your hands on one. Most American law enforcement departments have an IMSI-catcher.
A number of top US government agencies utilize hacking software systems and unmanned drones. The most famous agencies, of course, are the NSA and CIA, but other agencies include FBI, DIA(or Defense Intelligence Agency) and the DHS.
Automated hacking softwares and unmanned drones are the two most glaring methods of mass surveillance. There are other methods of mass surveillance, of course, and, as tech increases and government protection of your rights decreases this problem will only get worse.