Have We Become a “Surveillance State”? A Five-Part Test


Jay Stanley
ACLU
April 4, 2014

At a panel in Toronto recently I was asked whether I thought the United States had become a “surveillance state.”

How to answer that question? At first glance it’s an impossibly fuzzy question, the answer to which is relative depending on whether one has in mind life in an 18th century American town, or the Stasi. At the same time, if we can impose some structure on how we approach the question, it is an opportunity to take stock of where we stand—probably a healthy exercise.

Thinking it over, I came up with a five-part test by which we can consider the question.

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