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To what extent has the development of the internet and technology increased the state’s capacity to surveil its citizens?


Essay question:

‘To what extent has the development of the internet and technology increased the state’s capacity to surveil its citizens?’

For this Assessment you will be assessed against the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrates sound knowledge and understanding of the development of the internet, its impact upon crime and deviance, and the challenges faced in responding to this form of activity.
  • Demonstrates a breadth and depth of substantive knowledge that is comprehensive, accurate and relevant.
  • Able to construct and sustain reasoned arguments with the use of theory and evidence.
  • Demonstrates an ability to evaluate critically as well as provide complex analysis and comprehension evidenced by a wide selection of sources and theories.
  • Expressing an answer clearly and concisely using correct grammar, spelling, communication and structure.
  • Present your answer in a logical structure, including an introduction, main body of text, and an informed, coherent and logical conclusion.
  • Select relevant sources to support your answer.
  • Ensure that all sources are cited correctly. This means providing accurate citations for all textbooks, websites, journals and other sources correctly referenced using the Harvard referencing system.

Assessment Instructions:

  1. Total word count for this assessment should not exceed 3000 words (excluding footnotes). Any words over this total will not be marked.
  2. HARVARD Referencing (not included in the word count)
  3. Provide a list of References at the end of the essay (not included in the word count)

Essay Plan:

1. Introduction

  • Opening Statement: Introduce the critical issue of state surveillance in the digital age, emphasizing its growing importance and relevance.
  • Context: Provide a succinct overview of the development of the internet and technology, highlighting significant milestones that have influenced state surveillance capabilities.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the essay`s objective to critically evaluate the extent to which the development of the internet and technology has increased the state`s capacity to surveil its citizens.
  • Outline of Main Points: Briefly outline the key points that will be covered in the essay to guide the reader through the forthcoming analysis.

2. Development of the Internet and Technology

  • Historical Evolution: Detail the major stages in the evolution of the internet from ARPANET to the present day, including the advent of Web 2.0 and the proliferation of smart devices.
  • Technological Advancements: Discuss key technological advancements such as the rise of big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Impact on Society and Crime: Examine how these advancements have transformed societal behaviors, facilitated new forms of crime and deviance, and presented new challenges for law enforcement.
  • Demonstration of Knowledge: Show comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the development and impact of the internet, relevant to the learning outcomes.

3. Concepts and Mechanisms of State Surveillance

  • Definition and Scope: Define state surveillance and its objectives, distinguishing between different types such as mass surveillance, targeted surveillance, and predictive policing.
  • Technological Tools: Provide a detailed examination of the technological tools used in state surveillance, including CCTV, internet monitoring software, data mining techniques, and AI-driven algorithms.
  • Implementation and Integration: Discuss how these technologies are implemented and integrated into state surveillance systems.
  • Application of Knowledge: Use theoretical frameworks and evidence to support the explanation of surveillance mechanisms, demonstrating depth and breadth of understanding.

4. Enhancement of Surveillance Capacity through Technology

  • Data Collection and Big Data Analytics: Analyse how technological advancements in data collection and big data analytics have enhanced the state`s ability to gather, process, and analyse vast amounts of data on citizens.
  • AI and Machine Learning: Evaluate the role of AI and machine learning in improving the efficiency, accuracy, and predictive capabilities of surveillance systems.
  • Internet and Communication Monitoring: Examine how the development of internet communication platforms (e.g., social media, email, messaging apps) has expanded the scope and reach of state surveillance.
  • Sustained Arguments: Construct and sustain reasoned arguments on the increased surveillance capacity enabled by technological advancements, supported by relevant evidence and examples.

5. Challenges and Implications of Increased State Surveillance

  • Privacy and Civil Liberties: Critically evaluate the impact of increased state surveillance on privacy rights and civil liberties, referencing key legal and ethical debates.
  • Ethical and Legal Issues: Discuss the ethical and legal challenges associated with state surveillance, including potential abuses of power, lack of transparency, and the need for regulatory frameworks.
  • Public Perception and Trust: Analyse the effect of surveillance practices on public perception and trust in government institutions.
  • Critical Evaluation: Provide a nuanced analysis of the challenges and implications, supported by a wide selection of academic and expert sources.

6. Case Studies and Real-World Examples

  • NSA and PRISM: Discuss the NSA’s PRISM program as a case study of extensive state surveillance capabilities and its impact on privacy and civil liberties.
  • China’s Social Credit System: Analyse China’s social credit system as an example of comprehensive state surveillance and its societal implications.
  • Surveillance in Democracies: Examine surveillance practices in democratic countries, such as the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act, highlighting similarities and differences.
  • Evidence and Theory Application: Use these case studies to apply theoretical knowledge and provide concrete evidence for arguments, demonstrating critical analysis and comprehension.

7. Conclusion

  • Summary of Key Points: Summarise the main arguments and insights from the essay, reiterating the critical evaluation of state surveillance capacity.
  • Final Reflections: Reflect on the future trajectory of state surveillance in the context of ongoing technological advancements and the balance between security and privacy.
  • Thesis Restatement: Restate the thesis in light of the evidence and arguments presented, reinforcing the essay’s conclusions.
  • Clear and Concise Expression: Ensure the conclusion is clearly and concisely expressed, demonstrating excellent grammar, spelling, and structured communication.


Comprehensive and Relevant Sources: Provide a meticulously formatted list of all primary and secondary sources used, ensuring they are relevant, accurate, and appropriate for supporting the essay’s arguments.

Diverse Range of Sources: Include a diverse range of academic articles, industry reports, case studies, and expert opinions to underpin the analysis.

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