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Surveillance States Place Us In Prison

March 9, 2015


“Humans can be manipulated to obey. As information and communications technology creates a surveillance state, I’m worried that fear of terrorism will create a system where police officers and soldiers will obey the computer-generated decisions that appear on their optical head-mounted displays,” writes John Twelve Hawks in his essay “New surveillance states have placed us in an invisible prison”

In “New surveillance states have placed us in an invisible prison,” John Twelve Hawks discusses Edward Snowden’s terrifying revelations about how the National Security Agency and Great Britain’s GCHQ use spy technology on all citizens and how various corporations monitor our activities as well in order to market more efficiently to us.


Edward Snowden’s story has been told effectively in the Oscar winning documentary CitizenFour (reviewed here; watch here.

“Anyone who steps back for a minute and observes our modern digital world might conclude that we have destroyed our privacy in exchange for convenience and false security,” Twelve Hawks writes.

“Thoughtful women and men on every point of the political spectrum are beginning to realize that surveillance technology has shifted the balance of power between institutions and individuals.

“So what are we supposed to do?” he asks. “How can we avoid becoming just another bar-coded object tracked within a World of Things?”

Twelve Hawks argues we need to stand up and fight against it before it is too late:

“The new surveillance states have placed us in an invisible prison,” Twelve Hawks concludes. “If we wish to break free, we need only to step forward and open the door.”

excerpts from
Twelve Hawks, John. “New Surveillance States Have Placed Us in an Invisible Prison.” Salon Media Group, 14 Sept.
2014. Web. 6 March 2015.
The version of this essay in the pdf below is the text my students will be writing about for their midterm on Wednesday; today we will have a 50 minute discussion about the text. We will come up with some possible thesis statements and come up with some strategies on how to approach the test. I am looking forward to class today–it should be a lively discussion! I am also excited to read their essays to discover their thoughts in response to the three prompts faculty developed. To pass, essays should include:

Upper left hand corner

  • Your student ID number NOT your name
  • Instructor’s last name


  • Mention author and title of the article
  • Thesis that is a response to one of the topics above

Body Paragraphs

  • Topic sentences
  • Specific examples and support from the reading and your own experience
  • Quote or paraphrase article at least once in the body
  • Your analysis of the evidence


  • Between paragraphs
  • Within paragraphs



  • 2 pages handwritten
  • 1.5 pages typed (double-spaced)
Twelve Hawks “Invisible Prison” pdf excerpt here.


One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2015 11:56 am

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    information and links about the text that my Ventura College English 2 students will be writing about for their midterm on Wednesday

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