Mass surveillance is used to keep an eye on the entire population within a state or a particular fraction of the entire population. This form of surveillance is often carried out by organizations within the government, but can also be carried out by corporations, who could be doing it for the government or for their own benefits.
Nowadays governments perform mass surveillance of their citizens to protect their citizens from dangerous groups such as the terrorists, criminals etc, in order to maintain social control. Mass surveillance has become an important factor for nations to fight and prevent terrorism, social unrest, child pornography and all the other sinister acts that could destroy the social control.
On many occasions, mass surveillance has been criticized for violating privacy rights, limiting civil and political rights and freedoms and being illegally under some legal or legitimate systems. Many fear that the increasing mass surveillance would lead to a totalitarian state where the political dispute is challenged by COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) like programs. The COINTELPRO was hidden and at some point was illegal, projects which were conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The state which prefers mass surveillance is known as surveillance state or an electronic police state.
In the 2007 Privacy International, survey which took 47 countries into consideration found out that there had been an increase in surveillance and a decline in privacy rights of people as compared to the previous year. There were eight countries China, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Taiwan, Thailand and United States which were voted as being ‘endemic surveillance societies’.
Many countries across borders are adding surveillance cameras. On 21 March 2013, Reporters Without Borders published a Special report on Internet Surveillance. The report consisted of “State Enemies of the Internet”, countries that have taken part in mass surveillance, neglecting the privacy rights of people.
China is one of the countries in the top five listed on Reporters Without Borders on 21 March 2013, “State Enemies of the Internet” list. The reason for this is that all internet access is owned or controlled by the government or the Communist Party. The citizens in China are in continuous surveillance 24/7, this is the reason the foreign journalists in China have said that they take it for granted that their phones are tapped and their emails are monitored.