Team America Surveillance and Espionage Essay

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.....motif of surveillance features prominently in Captain America: Civil War. More importantly, the film features the ability of a powerful state entity to control the behavior of its citizens. The types of surveillance and brainwashing depicted in Captain America: Civil War are completely different from those used by the American government. However, the methods of surveillance used by the American government to spy on its own people may be no less sinister. The methods of surveillance used by the government cannot directly control peoples' minds and behavior of individuals, but can control other dimensions of the daily lives of citizens. Captain America: Civil War can be viewed as a metaphor and warning to Americans about the extent, purpose, and meaning of government surveillance in daily life. The film can also be instructional, showing that Americans can empower themselves against encroaching infringements on their rights.



Because Captain America: Civil War is a superhero movie, it does not address the genuine legal problems that surveillance and brainwashing raise. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution addresses surveillance by providing the right to privacy to all American citizens. The government is prohibited from unreasonable searches and seizures according to the Fourth Amendment, and that clause refers to searches and seizures of information, not just of property (Slobogin). There are many types of surveillance that the founding fathers would not have anticipated when the Constitution was ratified. Of course, the most obvious type of surveillance that the founding fathers would not have anticipated is Internet and other digital types of surveillance. In fact, one day in the future it could be possible that the government could engage in more insidious and technologically advanced methods of surveillance that include the ability of direct mind control and manipulation, as depicted in Captain America: Civil War.



There are three main types of surveillance, according to Slobogin. The first type is the classical style of spying on people. This type is known as physical surveillance. The second type of surveillance in common use is communications surveillance, which includes wiretapping and any other "real time interception of communications," (Slobogin 3). Finally, transaction surveillance refers to the monitoring of activities after they have occurred, such as when the government might review phone records or bank activities. This type of information may be used for a range of state missions, from evidence gathering for federal investigation against pornography and human trafficking or to monitor financial transactions of suspicious organizations. The latter type of surveillance is not always perceived of as surveillance, but it is still information gathering and must be accomplished within the provisions of the Fourth Amendment for it to be deemed constitutional. Technology has made each of these three types of surveillance easier, and emerging technologies are bound to make future surveillance even easier than it is already.

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In addition to technological advancements in surveillance that make it easier for the government to spy on its citizens or its enemies, the American government has also stretched the Fourth Amendment in the name of counterterrorism. Since September 11, public opinion has tacitly or even explicitly supported increased government surveillance in the interests of monitoring potential terrorist activities domestically (Slobogin). The expanded powers of the federal government over the past few decades have meant that the government has the potential to intrude into the daily lives of people more than ever before. Combined with the advancements in surveillance technology, the power of the government could even become as great as it is demonstrated in Captain America: Civil War.



Americans who resist surveillance or resent it have little recourse except to refrain from public activities entirely. However, one of the best ways to refrain from exposing oneself is to avoid volunteering personal information when using the Internet (Dinev, Hart, and Mullen). The only other means to resist unlawful surveillance is to ensure that civil liberties organizations like the ACLU remain well-endowed and able to protect the rights of citizens. Most Americans would agree that some government surveillance is necessary and desirable in the interests of national security and would gladly sacrifice a small amount of personal privacy in the interest of protecting the country. However, few Americans would agree to allow the contents of their minds be made public, really or symbolically through monitoring of individual social media accounts. What the government views as being "unreasonable search and seizure" under the Fourth Amendment might be defined differently from the common person, which is why civil liberties organizations make a determined effort to work with legal teams to protect the rights of Americans. The judiciary has, as a result, been called upon increasingly to rule on individual cases. Emerging technologies demand each case be heard differently, because from year to year hardware and software considerations will change. Legislation also changes, often in favor of the government and its expanding powers of surveillance. Some legislation may redefine what specific activities a government entity is allowed to do to gather information.



Interestingly, there are other ways of monitoring human behavior and even brainwashing as shown in Captain America: Civil War. Surveillance is only the tip of a large iceberg of rights erosion. For one, marketers collect purportedly anonymous data and usage statistics from customers and members of social media sites. Whenever a person uses a social media site, he or she surrenders a little more privacy. Registering for any website means placing one's email address, at the very least, on a list that can….....

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Works Cited


Casaregola, Vincent. "Who "Screens" Security?" In Ethical Issues and Citizen Rights in the Era of Digital Government Surveillance. Cropf, Robert (Ed.) IGI Global.

Dinev, Tamara, Parul Hart, and Michael Mullen. "Internet privacy concerns and beliefs about government surveillance -- An empirical investigation." The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol. 17, No. 3, Sept 2008, pp. 214-233.

Holmes, Marcia. "The "Brainwashing" Dilemma." History Workshop Journal, Vol 81, No. 1, 2016, pp. 285-293.

Russo, Anthony and Russo, Joe. Captain America: Civil War. Film, 2016.

Slogobin, Christopher. Privacy at Risk. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Swire, Peter P. "Financial Privacy and the Theory of High-Tech Government Surveillance." Washington University Law Quarterly 461, 1999.

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