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18 Chicago Journal of International Law 502 (2018)


The digital age brought with it a new epoch in global political life, one neatly coined by Professor Philip Howard as the “pax technica.” In this new world order, government and industry are “tightly bound” in technological and security arrangements that serve to push forward an information and cyber revolution of unparalleled magnitude. While the rise of information technologies tells a miraculous story of triumph over the physical constraints that once shackled mankind, these very technologies are also the cause of grave concern. Intelligence agencies have been recently involved in the exercise of global indiscriminate surveillance, which purports to go beyond their limited territorial jurisdiction and sweep in “the telephone, internet, and location records of whole populations.” Today’s political leaders and corporate elites are increasingly engaged in these kinds of programs of bulk interception, collection, mining, analysis, dissemination, and exploitation of foreign communications data that are easily susceptible to gross abuse and impropriety. When called out about any of these programs, policy makers often respond to their constituencies with a shrug and a smile: we only apply these programs to foreigners, you have nothing to worry about.