Maintaining Power of Mass Surveillance in our Digital Age

Lucy Brass
Nov 21, 2019

     The first day of BERMUN 2019 brought thoughtful and insightful ideas to the table. Political Committee (PC) delegates split into two groups, lobbying and discussing the significant topics of mass surveillance in our modern digital age and pursuing resolutions for economic justice and equality. 

     Co-chair Finn Kraft believes mass surveillance “has been an extremely relevant topic to dive in-depth on ever since the major Cambridge Analytica data scandal in early 2018.” He states that there was “personal data and information of around 50 million people leaked without their consent for political advertising purposes.” Due to this incident, mass surveillance has prompted many controversial opinions and criticisms. 

     The delegate of Egypt, Livia Hinrichs “encourages all member states represented in the PC to adopt targeted surveillance, which demonstrates prior suspicion, differentiating from mass surveillance.” Targeted surveillance is primarily directed towards specific individuals that demonstrate grounds for suspicion. These ends should be met so that the privacy of citizens is maintained and respected. We must ask ourselves to what extent mass surveillance truly benefits us and when there is a limit to our personal privacy.

     The function of online cookies and the profit they generate is of great interest, as this is one of the online forms of surveillance that often goes unnoticed. Although controversy persists about how much cookies really benefit us, one of the main reasons for this is a common misconception about how they actually work. 

     The purpose of cookies is actually quite beneficial to us; data is stored to help make our experience online easier. Created when one first visits a site, internet cookies are small text files that are downloaded on one’s own web browser to store information. Then, upon the next visit to that same website, the cookie scans one’s computer code and filters information on the website based on personal preferences. Cookies keep track of the many little details such as the pages visited on a site, how many times one has looked at them, and what specifically one was looking at. 

     The EU Cookie Directive was adopted by all EU countries in May 2011, which gave individuals the right to decline the use of cookies when visiting a website. It became crucial that citizens were given the right to decide on allowing surveillance on their personal lives or not.

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