This blog post was written for the course “Communications 506 – Using/Managing Communication networks” in partial fulfillment my Master of Arts in Communications and Technology at the University of Alberta.

Internet control and surveillance isn’t a topic most people talk about.

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Cyberbullying is one example of harassment occurring on the Internet, but parents, children and other users need to be aware of what else is happening online. Everyone agrees to the “Terms & Conditions” when they sign up for a social network or to receive emails, but do they really understand them? Being followed by Google, Facebook and other web service providers makes us think of ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty Four. But governments are following users online too and not for purposes such as targeted advertising.

There are so many Internet crimes from financial to pornography to militaristic strategizing. Internet surveillance is a way to find and prosecute Internet crimes and so ‘Big Brother’ can have positive effects.

But that unsettling feeling of being monitored and ‘followed’ makes it important to learn about these deep networked issues and to find out how you can best protect your privacy online.

The article in the Huffington Post titled “One Nation Under Surveillance. 5 Ways You Give The Government Control” provides an overview of the avenues in which the American Government collects data including: GPS, public cameras, phones, the Internet, and (snail) mail.

The following video outlines the type of internet security risks we need to be aware of in Canada. I encourage you to watch it all the way through as it touches on several important aspects.

(Un)lawful Access: Canadian Experts on the State of Cybersurveillance

There are different levels of Internet surveillance and control in different countries. As Internet users, it our responsibility as digital citizens to be aware of these issues, to talk about them, and take action. One of the great powers of the Internet is connecting with a lot of people and being able to share information quickly. So please share this post with your friends and family and start talking about rights to privacy online so that we have the opportunity to help shape laws on Internet security.

Did you know that governments were tracking data on the Internet to monitor criminal or suspicious activity? Will you share this post and other information with your friends in family to start a conversation? Will you participate in social activism of lobbying government officials to provide you with more information?

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