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Charlotte Talks: From The Pandemic To Protests, Surveillance Could Surge

Pixabay/Francesco Ungaro

Thursday, June 11, 2020

As both the pandemic and nationwide protests continue, experts worry this is accelerating an already growing area of concern: surveillance. From big tech monitoring our activity online to police surveillance of protests, we take a look at the growing prevalence of eavesdropping.

In recent months, people have been spending record amounts of time online as companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon profit wildly. Increased reliance on the internet has given big tech an opportunity to expand even further, and as a result privacy experts are concerned surveillance is becoming more prevalent than ever before.

But the pandemic isn’t the only force causing a surge in surveillance, as recent George Floyd protests have seen surveillance planes and drones, and the DEA has reportedly been granted new authority to "conduct covert surveillance" on protestors.

However, video surveillance has also been a tool of the protestors, as bystanders took the video of George Floyd’s killing which sparked rallies nationwide.

The two major forces pressuring American society right now are making the conditions ripe for surveillance to become commonplace. What does this mean for our privacy and police departments? And what happens after the pandemic is curbed and protests grow quiet?

We speak to experts on policing and big tech to determine the conveniences and privacy concerns resulting from the growing prevalence of surveillance in our everyday lives.


Dr. Zac Rogers,  research lead at the Jeff Bleich Centre for the U.S. Alliance in Digital Technology, Security, and Governance at Flinders University (@zacrogers01)

Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project and fellow at the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU School of Law (@FoxCahn)

Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.