CRIM 460: Surveillance and Privacy in Contemporary Society

CRIM 460-002: Surv/Privacy-Contemp Society
(Fall 2021)

01:30 PM to 02:45 PM WM

Horizon Hall 5018 - Hybrid

Section Information for Fall 2021

Course Description


Surveillance in the 21st century has evolved in ways that people in the 1980's couldn't even imagine, let alone people in the 1700's when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written. Our phones and laptops have become our best friends, but like that friend who wants to control your life, they too think that they know what is best for you better than you do. In addition to the friendly surveillance that we daily have to deal with, we have governments and non government organizations (NGOs) who are mining our information for nefarious reasons. Hackers have infiltrated our Government's computers as if the doors were left open with a neon sign welcoming them.


The reality is that Amazon, Verizon, Facebook and Google, as well as anything we click on on the internet, are all monitoring our actions and listening to our conversations, both written and verbal. The U.S. Government is watching, recording, scanning, and data gathering from many sources, and for many different reasons.


This course will examine the balancing of legitimate surveillance operations (law enforcement as well as security, and business) against the overreaching and infringing on our inherent rights to privacy. The Bill of Rights, as well as Supreme Court cases based on those rights will be examined. The balancing of laws and the need for security are still being litigated in our courts, as well as being discussed in the legislative branches of our government. A seemingly simple issue is muddled with the incredible technologies that have been developed, as well as the previous laws passed and court decisions made.


We will explore law enforcement surveillance, as well as the laws that frame it. We will also explore the history of privacy, government and private surveillance, governing statutes, operational and technological tactics and limitations, institutional changes arising from contemporary controversies, and the impact of technology on public policy and perception.


Finally, we’ll follow all significant surveillance and privacy current events, including legislative proposals/enactments, court decisions, congressional testimony, speeches, etc.




Course Learning Objectives

The goals of this course are to develop a understanding of the laws relating to privacy and national security, and the history of those laws. In addition, an understanding of the ways that law enforcement and national security use the laws and rulings of the courts to perform their duties to the nation. Lastly, an understanding of the ways business and criminal elements infringe upon our privacy will be covered.


Reading Material

Privacy, Law Enforcement, and National Security by Daniel J. Solove and Paul M. Schwartz. 3rd Edition, Wolters Kluwer 2021 ISBN: 9781543832617. Older editions are available, and can be used. This is required reading.



8-23-21 in person Introduction and overview. What is surveillance and privacy?


8-25-21 online The legal history of due process and the Constitution. Origin of the Supreme Court. How the court works. Origin of the 4th amendment.


8-30-21 in person. 4th and 14th Amendments. Growth of the 4th amendment and addition of the 14th amendment.

Reading: Chapter 1



9-1-21 online 4th and 14th Amendments continued. Court cases that changed the amendments.


9-6-21 Labor Day



9-8-21 online Search and seizure. What rights do the Law Enforcement Officers and Agents have, and what rights do the citizens have.


9-13-21 in person Search and seizure. What rights do the Law Enforcement Officers and Agents have, and what rights do the citizens have, continued.


9-15-21 online Electronic Surveillance. Title III


9-20-21 in person Title III continued.


9-22-21 online The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

Stored Communications Act of 1986 (SCA)

Microsoft v. US


9-27-21 in person Trackers and Beacons US v Knotts, US v Karo, US v Jones


9-29-21 online Public, Private, and Government Surveillance Cameras and the Use of new technology, One party consent and all party consent.


10-4-21 in person Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)


10-6-21 online The Patriot Act


10-11-21 in person The Patriot Act (cont)


10-13-21 online Catch-up. Midterm review


10-18-21 in person Midterm Test


10-20-21 online First Amendment – Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition


10-25-21 in person Second Amendment


10-27-21 online Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) 1978 and The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act CALEA (1994)

Page 4

11-1-21 in person National security and Intelligence

Reading: Chapter 2


11-3-21 online The FBI


11-8-21 in person The Intelligence Community

(pp. 155-171)


11-10-21 online NSA Surveillance - Metadata


11-15-21 in person Civil Liberties and Privacy Around the World. How the world legislates privacy. Spying on journalists


11-17-21 online Hatch Act


11-22-21 Covid 19 and health care


11-24-21 Thanksgiving eve Off


11-29-21 in person Covid 19 and health care (cont)


12-1-21 online Internet Surveillance and Privacy. Data Breaches. Ransomware Final Test Review


12-8-21 online Final Exam

View 2 Other Sections of this Course in this Semester »


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Philosophical perspectives, historical context, technological developments, and institutional changes that surround controversies about privacy and surveillance in contemporary society. Explores public and private institutions conducting surveillance, how they calculate and manage risk, and legal constraints on surveillance activities. Equivalent to GOVT 460.
Recommended Prerequisite: CRIM 100
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.