State of Surveillance

2016, Technology  -   62 Comments
Storyline

As you read this, your government could be thumbing through your contacts, reviewing your text messages and uploading the photos you have stored on your phone without your knowledge. This is the new reality in a post-9/11 age. Most citizens around the globe were first made aware of this troubling phenomenon through the controversial actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. In their new documentary titled State of Surveillance, VICE travels to Russia, where Snowden currently lives safe from persecution by the United States, to probe the depths of his particular area of expertise.

As discussed in the early section of the film, the most recent example of the U.S. government's dominance over privately owned digital devices was made clear in the aftermath of the San Bernadino terrorist shootings. After haggling with Apple over a means of gaining access to the perpetrator's phone, the government managed to hack it on their own. But that's a capability they've had all along, claims Snowden.

At a table sitting across from VICE host Shane Smith, Snowden performs a dissection of a common cellular phone - the kind used by many billions of people all over the world. He illustrates how the innards of every phone can act as pathways through which institutions can track your every move.

The intrusion doesn't stop with your cell phone or laptop device. Drone surveillance - the spying technology which allows organizations like the CIA to keep watch on suspected terrorist activities in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan - are now being employed by the U.S. government on their own home soil. In many cases, these drones are not being used to detect potential terrorist threats, but rather citizen-led protests such as the one which recently occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. According to Snowden and other figures interviewed in the film, missions like these are driven by the government's desire to suppress and deter the will and the rights of their people.

Apathy and ignorance will only breed a further deterioration of our rights to privacy. State of Surveillance understands that insidious security breaches like these will continue to occur until the public becomes more aware and vocal in their disapproval.

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62 Comments / User Reviews

  1. renate

    safe to say that Snowden is under the same surveillance he warns us about LOL ironic

  2. Alliyah

    Seems like a hidden propaganda film. They mentioned terrorist attacks like 3 times.

    1. lesen

      So it's propaganda to mention terrorist attacks?

    2. Pyra

      Would you rather call them "asymmetrical autonomous freedom fighter units" rather than a terrorist?

  3. charles g maki

    for me, Snowden was preceded by people who worked under the same contractor, he ought to have contacted the people at the NSA but what does he do? He flees to Russia.

    1. workathomer

      Thomas Drake tried to report the abuse through proper channels & the agency went after him. Snowden saw that & chose another route to get out information re everyone being spied on.

  4. charles g maki

    I was a lower level supporter of people who, during the cold war, in Turkey in the late 1950's. The collection of so called meta data is needed - the NSA selects the likely material and works on that. There is a problem that it is a politician who gives the ' go ahead' to institute this action.

  5. Ray

    Very sad that people's right to privacy is being eroded by governments and greedy corporations. That anyone for any reason can use your devices to listen in on your private conversations is chilling .and a wake up call to all of us that something is terribly wrong and must be combated.

    1. Anonyon

      This is also scary because if they can read and hear everything there is a 100% chance false evidence can be planted on a person.

  6. Adam

    @John Rossiter: " Arent [sic] all crimes solved then? Also, why aren't all conspiracies thwarted??" Well, because it's sometimes in the best interests of certain parties to not act on viable information. Are there bigger secrets involved? Is there a way to gain more information, or even influence, by not acting on such information? Sometimes inaction is the most effective form of action.

    1. yo

      the deep web with tor browser will make you able to access pieces of information, beware its a dangerous zone.

  7. John Rossiter

    While I have great admiration for Snowdon, and do agree with the majority viewpoints written here, Why.... Arent all crimes solved then? Also, why aren't all conspiracies thwarted??
    Either standard law enforcement dont have or use this technology, or, They dont wanna solve everything for fear of showing their full hand.
    I dont know the answer. But if they know and see everything, it sure doesnt seem like it!

  8. Kevin Edge

    Here in the UK the Police are by law supposed to get a magistrate 's warrant to bug land lines , from the local exchange. However, often they do not even bother to go down this route instead they dress up an officer in BT uniform with the necessary 'fake warrant' which is never left with the telephone exchange staff. Their officer then proceeds to the line box exchange and fixes the bug!

  9. p.o.p.e

    "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say" SO TRUE!

  10. p.o.p.e

    What gets me is that 2 independent committees (set up by the white house) found that mass surveillance doesn't work. Also the point that some make "If you aren't doing anything wrong then why are you worried about being spied on" is ridiculous. What these people who say this don't understand is the government don't just collect 'Bad people's' information they collect meta data from anyone and everyone. Just think, there is a very high chance that said government have nudes of you, have your intimate private conversations on record etc etc. Even if you respond to the prior with "It's fine I haven't done anything wrong" well as Cyborg009's joke suggests, maybe something innocent today will tomorrow be the opposite. It pains me how gutless and weak many citizens are today and just assume those in positions of power would never abuse it. Wake up and step out of your bubble.

    1. Invictusbeauty

      Agreed. So if this can happen and Snowden isn't called paranoid or delusional, then why is it TI's (targeted individuals) whom I'm assuming are a major focus in the R&D department of snooping technology, are being portrayed as such? I'm neither fearful, paranoid, or delusional, but the powers that be love to label all dissidents as individuals who have mental health issues,..Oh yeah, duh to discredit us. Yes people Wake Up! Only the strong minded will become aware, and only the courageous will stand up and do something.

  11. willem

    so the message is the Boston Marathon bombing was real?? No it wasn't it was a staged false flag event. Snowden refers to the Tsarnaev brothers as terrorist while they weren't; they were patsies in a ridiculous theatre of fake terrorist events.

  12. Barometer

    You're all missing something here. Many people in government already use surveillance to get ahead of people. They may have legal cases against the government, they may have research data they have been working on for their company or a deal they have been working on etc. Corrupt people in the government are using this information now to unethically get ahead of legal disputes or scoop deals or research from others. This is happening now. Don't trust people in government just because they are in positions of power. That is precisely why you shouldn't trust them.

    1. Ananomusy

      Yes, one must not believe or think that their own government wants what is best for them. That is, unfortunate, not the world we live in today. I noticed a pattern throughout history and it is getting close to implement the New World Order, not there, but it is getting close to fully implement it. It is obvious, if you have ears and eyes to see beyond what you see, you will see that as time moves along society is becoming more aggressive and accepting of the NWO. I personally do not agree with their beliefs, but I got to give it to "THEM"', they are smart as hell. I do; however, know someone who is smarter, you can call him a genius with an exceedingly high IQ and who knows more than you think.
      Their plans and tactics have been known to man for years, but the masses are ignorant and do not care, although the true is hidden in plain sight. The best way to conceal a secret or secret is in plain sight. People are failing in life because they are not renewing their mind with knowledgeable information that is hidden in plain sight and that is bestowed.
      Our government officials and those who are behind the scenes are very smart men and are wealthy and believe they know what is best for the world and its direction. Well one thing I can say that while they are planning, implementing, and showing their strategic methods in plain sight, the daily tasks that they are conducting are of no surprise to me, because I expect it. So, the surveillance, phone tapping, so call vaccines and diseases, the fake and steroid foods, MK Ultra, underground facilities underneath area 51 and other government places, and even the disease that are injected into people don’t surprise me. If you knew what else they were planning you would be shocked, but me I am not because I know what is coming. Most don’t and won’t see it coming.
      If you don’t have the knowledge, discernment, and the eyes and ears to see beyond what you see that is physical and in plain sight, you will be defeated every time and caught off guard every time.

  13. Mark

    The big problem with blanket surveillance is that the byproducts detected by the surveillance can be used maliciously. e.g. I get a court order to spy on a citizen who I (government agency) suspect is a terrorist. Surveillance proves that this citizen is not a terrorist but has not completed a tax return for the last three years. IRS then goes on the attack, freezes assets etc etc,

    By the way. Tiger Lilly you are an i***t.

    1. Invictusbeauty

      Thank you for the conformation re: i....t. I am not any of the things i...t's get labeled with, and I had my first aha moment with a SGO a few days ago. IT is real and we exist but they chose poorly, I'm a very strong courageous person especially after she confirmed further what I already knew was true with her behavior and rookie mistakes/ comments.." Some ppl should know when to shut up".."you shouldn't take death so nonchalantly"..etc.. Was foolish of the establishment to send a trainee to ME, it only strengthened my resolve to out them on their BS and then they will all fall, too bad .."the truth really can set you free, but only if your on the right side of it."

    2. Invictusbeauty

      I thought you where asking a question about her being a TI which is (me), - not an Id__T lol. The "are" and "you" appeared in that order in my brain for some reason when I first read your comment here. Ya, not my best showing of my intelligence here. Guess it would've helped to read her superficial comment first. That's on me.

  14. Hello

    Good video

  15. DUN

    Hey b***h Julia 100!!! mind explaining why African tribes are primitive???

  16. Wolf

    How can one be so surprised or amazed . . . Governments and such have been tracking others for centuries. For those in the US, surely it was with the Social Security Number. But OK, think of all those check cashing cards, store cards, membership/discount cards that are issued by nearly every store/shop, around the company; you can not tell me that they are for "customer loyalty", rather, they track you (yet people are like excited to get these.. to carry these cards) - the customer, so the "company" knows your spending habits... taking that information to sell you something else, or sell that information to another organization. Oh yes, don't forget the good old TRASH CAN and/or DUMPSTER... a tracking elements for years and years.

  17. Nazanin

    I call the whistleblowers the heroes of era; the globe's hero's. Has anybody heard of nano smart phones within your teeth bones working with....

  18. Not in my lifetime I hope

    Scary thought .... "turnkey tyranny" aka North Korea - imagine the horror of living like that ending up like Otto Warmbier ! NO THANKS

  19. EyeSpy

    "Tigerlilly

    Why are people so worried about being spied on? If one is worried about being caught then uh... that person should probably be caught.

    Watch... I'm going to go to prison for saying that XD"

    The problem with this Tigerlilly is that a point is reached whereby the surveillance ensures totalitarian compliance to any rules devised by a government, no matter how extreme or how far these rules may be against your morals and beliefs. So perhaps right now the laws are all good and fine, but what if suddenly Mozart becomes considered a "disruptive media source that could possibly lead to terrorist action", or Beethoven, or the writing of Mark Twain or Shakespeare. Take Canada for instance. They are passing a bill that specifically makes Islamophobia a hate crime. Now I'm not saying people discriminating against anyone else is right. But when you specifically name a minority for protection under law, rather than providing equal rights to all, it is the beginning of a structured and legalized ostricization of the larger part of your population. This is much the same methods as employed by Hitler and the Nazi regime. Special protections and rights were assigned to the Aryans above and beyond the rest of the Germans. Now what if you happen, not to be an Islamophobic or an Islamist, but rather a believer in the original constitutional rights, whereby all should be afforded equal protections. What if your government viewed this standpoint as disruptive and against this specific law. They could use their high level surveillance to put you, and everyone you know, under the microscope. They could arrest you and detain you indefinitely since you are a perceived threat, and no doubt if you were outspoken enough to be singled out, then they could use your emails, your facebook, twitter, even your private conversations in the false comfort of your dinner table while you sit talking to family and don't realize the government turned on your phone camera and microphone. When in reality all you wanted to do was make sure everyone's rights were covered, you are now the criminal, and your rights have become non-existent.

  20. Nancy Hollo

    @tigerlilly and internettop40.com
    You both have a point, but there's much more to the story. What you have or don't have to hide depends on who's in power at the moment. In a democracy like the U.S., we don't have to hide our political or religious ideas or activities. The danger is the possibility of the U.S. morphing into a totalitarian state. Under such conditions you'll have to continually worry about every word and deed and hide your privately held beliefs and convictions.

    1. Invictusbeauty

      I refuse to do that- Worry about what I say..especially if it's true and exposes evil, and that's what they fear- Us waking up to the truth of the evil that uses them (govt) like puppets at a pathetic attempt to control and enslave us they really are the same word if you think about it control/slave..I speak what I know to be true about it all, without fear- And yes I get messed with for it, but I don't let it detour me. They tried to make me take my own life by systemically ruining it by causing problems in my social and professional circles with smear campaigns. Well they all failed, and now I'm pissed.

    2. Newspeak

      This did not age well...

  21. NSA

    This is a bunch of shenanigans!

  22. MamaB

    I really liked the ending phrase in what he said about what is coming and confronting the issue of our political elected leaders. It almost sounds frightening but in reality, when more of our society becomes aware then, more people would be willing to take a stand and not feel threatened anymore by the government who we've entrusted.
    As the rapid growth of informational technology increases, the more it will be understood.
    The problem here is that, too many folks are too engaged with other social media outlets where they are actually missing the point. We are in an age of newly innovated technology that sometime we are getting distracted by the things that please our eyes while our visionaries are bringing to the forefront exactly what we should all be learning as the technology evolves around us.
    It's new age technology and it's available to us by these very individuals. We just have to open our minds too it and not get trapped in the social world of likes and status.

  23. Cyborg009

    @Tigerlilly
    "Why are people so worried about being spied on? If one is worried about being caught then uh... that person should probably be caught."

    You are assuming what is okay/harmless will always be so.

    Here is a joke:
    Three men are sitting in a cell in the (KGB headquarters) Dzerzhinsky Square. The first asks the second why he has been imprisoned, who replies, "Because I criticized Karl Radek." The first man responds, "But I am here because I spoke out in favor of Radek!" They turn to the third man who has been sitting quietly in the back, and ask him why he is in jail. He answers, "I'm Karl Radek."

  24. Ms.Bobbi

    This was extremely great to show people who are really naive to the state of surveilence in the our country and world today. It is short, only half hour long so really not a major time investment and things are explained in a way that doesn't require a masters degree in technology and communication devices to understand. I encourage everyone to watch this and share it with friends who may be naive to the current state of things as well. Knowledge is power and we as a people have to start paying serious attention to the things our government is up to because it's already gotten this far out of hand because we have been asleep at the wheel for a very long time! We all have to tune back in and start getting involved and demanding our elected officials start working towards returning this country to a place of freedom and liberty instead of the police state of surveilence, oppression and mass incarceration it has become! WAKE UP AMERICA!

  25. Sooph1e

    Superb piece! Althought I wish they'd have delved deeper into the issue and perhaps made the docu longer, it is still some of the most valuable information about the shadow government and a powerful message that no one is safe from intelligence agencies' black programs.

  26. internettop40.com

    What about the idea that yes they are surveilng us but only to catch the people who would commit violence! What about that?? How else could they prevent stuff they have to surveil us. Lets face it if you dont have anything to hide you dont have anything to worry about. Not to mention if everyone who smoked a joint were caught or in jail it would be half the population, well that maybe an exaggeration but you get the point. They are going for violent criminal crazies! Brought to you by internettop40.com

    1. Patasone13

      Didn't you watch same document as they knew the bombers and let them carry on so why use it if they can't be arsed to catch them

  27. Ballsrog

    @Tigerlilly, let's say for the sake of argument, that everything the government says you shouldn't do, you shouldn't (obvious bs that is though) what happens when the government does things it DEFINETELY shouldn't (for the sake of power and or money and usually at a detriment to justice and freedom and the survival of the planet) and instead of people rising up together to change things, they're jailed or disapeared? You're too trusting of people just because they're "in charge", and or ignorant on the subject of human nature.

  28. scott

    True visionary it is, Tigerlilly people are not worried for that reason. Wake up :)

    1. Invictusbeauty

      Exactly..I was mistaken I thought someone else here was asking if she was what I am..a IT (reversed)..not an Id**t, which I figured out after reading her superficial response. We don't want to wake up the **uP*d people..maybe that's not even a possibility, which in and of itself is a blessing.

  29. Ariadne P

    It's saddening how no leader from any government has ever done anything for the benefit of the people. Think about it

    1. Invictusbeauty

      The ones that have gone against the establishment, have paid the ultimate price for it, if you know what I mean? There where only a few with the intestinal fortitude to stand by their convictions, and not allow themselves be morally corrupted or intimidated. They are my Hero's, the ones who would say "NO!" to the elites if they knew it was wrong to do to the people. An introspective, and wise thought just came to me "the good people will always be remembered, therefore they are the true immortals, but the evil are either only referenced as comparison to the current status quo, or quickly forgotten." So much for your immortality jerks!

  30. Krish B

    While Tiger Lily may have a point that we should (theoretically) have nothing to hide, let me propose a scenario. There could be some people who may have interests in something that is not seen as socially normal. Now with data being collected on everybody, there is no guarantee that any information will be privately held by the government. If one of these people then plan to apply for a government position, they may be rejected simply based on something in their private life. What people do in their private life should typically not play a role in a professional career. There will of course be some exceptions to this, but who has the right to determine that. Furthermore, in saying that someone is not qualified because of something in their personal life, it is directly affecting this individual's right to self determination. It is hard to answer the question when does surveillance go too far. If the government is going to continue such surveillance activities, then there should be no interference with the organizations that are tasked to keep these surveillance programs in check and ensure that the public's rights (which these agencies are tasked to protect) are guaranteed. The issue then becomes that these agencies will say that their hands are tied, which is where our society needs to decide whether we want to compromise our rights for safety or vice versa.

    1. Invictusbeauty

      For safety from what exactly? It's 2016! You do realize the "p****oT *cT is bulls__T? Please tell me you people can't possibly still believe the threat comes from another country? I've found 100% of the time the people doing the surveillance, are the ones who need to be watched.

  31. Julia 100

    Primitive tribes Life African Tribes Traditions Rituals And Ceremonies Tribes

  32. trax

    It's funny that Vice will speculate about the horrors of Trump getting his hands on this surveillance power....but not Hillary. Very telling.

  33. Ryan

    To that id**t Tiger Lily: "Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say"

  34. NoMane Name

    I remember reading recently about a new company in florida that has in store or will store a complete profile of every single American, ready for express access. Most all that I could imagine might be stored in each of these profiles. If I remember correctly.

  35. bungabunga

    of course (((vice))) calls ferguson a "citizen led protest"

  36. Looking

    o-oh. Boston bombing. Snowden fingering the patsies - no mention of Craft International. Snowden is a pseudo - unfortunately.

  37. JR

    Anyone who knows your cell phone number, can buy an app. to track you. Anyone, like thieves, stalkers, jealous partners. I know someone that when they went to work people were going into their house. They were taking things and adulterating their food and beverages. They bought a camera surveillance system, and noticed the loop in the footage. They looked it up online and found out for $15.00 you can buy a frequency jammer. And it's not like this person was rich or had expensive things. So it's not just government and corporations. It could be your crazy neighbor with too much time on their hands.

  38. Jeff

    Great stuff, but scary.

    Also, why can't we have men like Eric Snowden as leaders? We always get the cowardly, greedy, self-serving, delusional, power-hungry nut-jobs that manage to rise to the top. Like so many 'floaters,' I guess.

  39. Wendolyn

    Snowden is a total genius hero. Steven L. Jones is totally right. In future, we might get even more oppressive governments, or corporations with more control, and we will not be able to say or do anything against it to get our human rights back, cuz they know EVERYTHING about us.

  40. steven L. Jones

    Nothing to hide. Been on a protest lately? Had kinky sex in front of someone's hopefully turned off computer? It might affect your next job interview and you'd never know. Have a political point of view, feel strongly about the environment, poverty, etc. Trying to get that loan but don't understand why you can't. How far in that direction have we already traveled? Absolute control over ever living soul. Best to avoid news stories like these and be thoroughly a conservative bot. Maybe this won't happen today but it could be tomorrow.

  41. oQ

    Snowden is narrowing his vision on the essential.

  42. Gaia Citizen

    I think it's time for US and all Earth citizens alike to realize this is not just a US issue and it affects all of us equally. I think it's time to get our Planet back!

  43. anoymous

    A true visionary, wish more could see what the future holds for us all.

  44. Tigerlilly

    Why are people so worried about being spied on? If one is worried about being caught then uh... that person should probably be caught.

    Watch... I'm going to go to prison for saying that XD

    1. Patasone13

      All should be more worried about the top people who are doing deal with other nations to nuke earth and they live life underground till all is safe to come back up and start new world this is happening now with trumpthedump and other idiots in power as they say it now to many people on earth have real think pass on

  45. terry

    life is about to soon show more changes, the whole world is broke,
    as we know there is little to offer if you are short of the green stuff.

  46. Person

    Manufactured consent makes it all possible. What better way to spy on the masses than through convenience and entertainment.