BEIJING, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — For decades, the United States has conducted indiscriminate mass surveillance of its citizens, as well as of foreign governments, companies and individuals.
Various surveillance projects undertaken by Washington have been exposed one after the other in recent years, revealing more evidence of America’s pervasive and ubiquitous surveillance of the world. SURVEILLANCE ON HOUSE LAND
According to a recent report by the Georgetown University Law Center’s Center on Privacy and Technology, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expanded far beyond its role as an immigration agency to become a “domestic surveillance agency.”
ICE has developed a dragnet surveillance system that allows it to collect detailed records on nearly every person in America at any time, without any judicial, legislative or public oversight, says the report, titled “American Dragnet: Datadriven Deportation in the 21st Century.”
From 2008 to 2021, ICE has spent about $2.8 billion on surveillance, data collection and data sharing initiatives, according to the report, which notes that the agency has been able to access utility record information for more than 218 million customers in all 50 states.
ICE is not the only agency in the United States that has exceeded its authority and misused citizens’ private personal information.
In fact, mass surveillance in the US has become institutionalized. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States passed numerous laws to expand the government’s surveillance powers for national security reasons.
The US Congress gave the green light to the Patriot Act of 2001, which covers Section 215, one of the most controversial domestic and international surveillance programs.
In 2008, Congress passed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to collect communications about foreign intelligence targets without a warrant.
Following the revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden and Wikileaks about the US government’s abuse of power to collect the private data of millions of Americans, the ensuing public outcry led Congress to ban the infamous PRISM hacking project.
But the government never actually stops abusing its power to carry out indiscriminate surveillance of its citizens.
In 2021 alone, the FBI has conducted up to 3.4 million warrantless searches of Americans’ phone calls, emails and text messages, Hill reported, citing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. MONITORING THE WORLD
The US surveillance network has spread beyond its borders, targeting not only adversaries but allies as well.
In May 2021, Denmark’s national broadcaster DR News reported that the Danish Defense Intelligence Agency had given the NSA open internet access to spy on senior politicians in neighboring countries, including then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The NSA purposefully obtained data and was able to spy on targeted heads of state, as well as nearby Scandinavian leaders, top politicians and high-ranking officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France, according to the report, causing global shock and outrage.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in May 2021 that this “is unacceptable between allies, even less between allies and European partners”, and Merkel said she “could only agree” with Macron’s comments.
But it was not alien to European leaders. In 2013, Snowden revealed that Washington had been spying on the emails and cellphone communications of as many as 35 world leaders.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed in his book No Place to Hide that a single unit within the NSA had collected more than 97 billion emails and 124 billion phone calls from around the world in just 30 days in 2013.
The powerful mass surveillance system has helped the US make profits.
For example, in 2013, reports emerged from the US magazine WIRED that Brazil’s state-owned oil and gas giant Petrobras was a prime target of US government espionage.
“Washington is losing its moral ground,” German magazine Focus quoted a foreign policy expert as saying.
With its global surveillance network, “the United States itself is the true eavesdropper,” Focus said, although the country prefers to appear as a victim of espionage.