Course Information

Course Number




Cyber Surveillance Policy & Privacy Law

This advanced seminar examines the current implications of post-9/11 cyber-surveillance policy and dataveillance, or data surveillance as a result of data mining and database tracking technologies. Historically, the U.S. has been a technological leader in employing various tracking methodologies to catalogue personally-identifiable data collected by the government. In particular, dating back to at least the 1880s, the government has utilized the most sophisticated biometric/database technologies available to further national security policy objectives. The dramatic expansion of government surveillance and dataveillance following the attacks of 9/11 is unprecedented. Rapid technological developments permit such expansion in the context of what has been described as an "axial age of technology." Multiple presidential directives and executive orders issued after 9/11, for example, now mandate biometric security/dataveillance for national security and immigration policy purposes.

A key inquiry of the seminar will be how database technologies developed for civil law or corporate purposes can be used for criminal law and national security purposes, and how this merger has led to the growing normalization of surveillance protocols. The seminar will investigate how digital surveillance or dataveillance programs developed on a voluntary "test pilot" basis by the government in the immigration civil law context are now being proposed for mandatory national expansion. In addition, databases and technologies developed by corporations for consumer reasons also offer technological prototypes for national surveillance programs that can be expanded for use beyond the private sector context. The legal and constitutional protections available to curtail this expanding web of data collection and cybersurveillance is unclear. Therefore, this seminar will also explore the preexisting statutes protecting electronic communications and digital data, as well as the availability of Fourth Amendment protections to guard against the unreasonable search and seizure of data.


Research Paper: A research paper (minimum 20-25 pages double-spaced) will be required for this seminar, the subject of which will be developed in consultation with the professor.

In addition, two essays (minimum 3-5 pages double-spaced) will be required during the course of the semester to allow an opportunity to synthesize reading materials with the course discussion. In addition, the essays may be used as an opportunity to shape concepts and analysis for the research paper.


Grade Component
Research Paper (topic and outline) 70 percent
Essays 20 percent
Class Participation (including preparation and attendance) 10 percent

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.


Margaret C. Hu
Cyber Surveillance Policy & Privacy Law 716.01
Spring 2013
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