We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America

We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America

by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones


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This is the story of surveillance in Britain and the United States, from the detective agencies of the late nineteenth century to 'wikileaks' and CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the twenty-first. Written by prize-winning historian and intelligence expert Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, it is the first full overview of its kind.

Delving into the roles of credit agencies, private detectives, and phone-hacking journalists as well as agencies like the FBI and NSA in the USA and GCHQ and MI5 in the UK, Jeffreys-Jones highlights malpractices such as the blacklist and illegal electronic interceptions. He demonstrates that several presidents - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon - conducted various forms of political surveillance, and also how British agencies have been under a constant cloud of suspicion for similar reasons.

Continuing with an account of the 1970s leaks that revealed how the FBI and CIA kept tabs on anti-Vietnam War protestors, he assesses the reform impulse of this era - an impulse that began in America and only gradually spread to Britain. The end of the Cold War further at the end of the 1980s then undermined confidence in the need for state surveillance still further, but it was to return with a vengeance after 9/11.

What emerges is a story in which governments habitually abuse their surveillance powers once granted, demonstrating the need for proper controls in this area. But, as Jeffreys-Jones makes clear, this is not simply a story of the Orwellian state. While private sector firms have sometimes acted as a brake on surveillance by the state (particularly in the electronic era), they have also often engaged in dubious surveillance practices of their own. Oversight and regulation, he argues, therefore need to be universal and not simply concentrate on the threat to the individual posed by the agencies of government.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198749660
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/01/2017
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is Emeritus Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh and has held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard, the Free University of Berlin, and Toronto. The founder of the Scottish Association for the Study of America, of which is he the current honorary president, he has also published widely on intelligence history, including The CIA and American Democracy (1989), The FBI: A History (2007), and In Spies We Trust: The Story of Western Intelligence , the last of these also published by Oxford University Press (2013). He was the winner of the 2014 Neustadt Prize for the best UK book on American politics with The American Left: Its Impact on Politics and Society (2013).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 A Survey of Surveillance
Chapter 2 The Private Eye Invades Our Privacy
Chapter 3 The Blacklist
Chapter 4 Franklin D. Roosevelt's Incipient Surveillance State
Chapter 5 McCarthyism in America
Chapter 6 McCarthyism in Britain
Chapter 7 COINTELPRO and 1960s Surveillance
Chapter 8 An Age of Transparency
Chapter 9 The Intensification of Surveillance Post-9/11
Chapter 10 Private-Sector Surveillance in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 11 Snowden
Chapter 12 Policy and Reform in the Obama-Cameron Era
1. A Survey of Surveillance
2. The Private Eye Invades our Privacy
3. The Blacklist
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Incipient Surveillance State
5. McCarthyism in America
6. McCarthyism in Britain
7. COINTELPRO and 1960s surveillance
8. An Age of Transparency
9. The Intensification of Surveillance Post-9/11
10. Private-Sector Surveillance in the Twenty-First Century
11. Snowden
12. Policy and Reform in the Obama-Cameron Era

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