negative effects of surveillance

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A member survey conducted by writers’ organisation PEN American Center in December 2013 discovered that, since the publication of the first NSA leaks, 28% of respondents have “curtailed or avoided social media activities,” while another 24% have “deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations.” Perhaps even more worryingly, a full 16% have avoided writing or speaking on certain topics.3

Surveillance affects us in myriad ways. It infringes on our personal freedoms, submits us to state control, and prevents us from progressing as a society.

importance of surveillance technology

Negative Effects Of Surveillance

On 5 June 2013, the Washington Post and the Guardian simultaneously published documents that would rock the world. The documents, leaked by ex-National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, were not the first disclosures about the United States’ vast surveillance complex, but have arguably had the most impact.

Before last year, awareness of digital surveillance in the US – and indeed, in much of the world – was minimal. Disclosures made by WikiLeaks in 2011 can be credited for an uptick in reporting on surveillance 1 – particularly in the Middle East – but did little to inspire research on the societal impact of it.

The knowledge, or even the perception, of being surveilled can have a chilling effect. A 2012 industry study conducted by the World Economic Forum found that in high internet penetration countries, a majority of respondents (50.2%) believe that “the government monitors what people do on the Internet.” At the same time, only 50% believe that the internet is a safe place for expressing their opinions, while 60.7% agreed that “people who go online put their privacy at risk.” 2

The equal rights to privacy, speech and association

When we talk about surveillance, it often follows that we speak of the importance of privacy, of being free from observation or disturbance, from public attention. In the US, privacy is a fundamental right, enshrined in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

Of course, this is no coincidence – under King George II, the American colonisers found themselves at the mercy of writs of assistance, court-issued orders that allowed the King’s agents to carry out wide-ranging searches of anyone, anytime; a precursor to the modern surveillance state.4 Once issued, an individual writ would be valid for the King’s entire reign, and even up to six months past his death.

It was only after the death of King George II that a legal challenge was mounted. When a customs officer in Boston attempted to secure new writs of assistance, a group of Boston merchants, represented by attorney James Otis, opposed the move. Otis argued that the writs placed “the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer,” an argument that founding father John Adams later claimed “breathed into this nation the breath of life.” It was from this societal shift that the Fourth Amendment was born.

The opposition to surveillance, however, is not borne only out of a desire for privacy. In the United States, the First Amendment – that which prohibits the creation of law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” 5 – is often debated, but rarely restricted. It is a set of rights that is paramount in US culture; as Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black once stated:

First in the catalogue of human liberties essential to the life and growth of a government of, for, and by the people are those liberties written into the First Amendment of our Constitution. They are the pillars upon which popular government rests and without which a government of free men cannot survive. 6

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights similarly provides for the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 7

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013 have demonstrated the extraordinary breadth of the US’s and other governments’ mass surveillance programmes, programmes which constitute an intrusion into the private lives of individuals all over the world.

The violation of privacy is apparent: indiscriminate, mass surveillance goes against the basic, fundamental right to privacy that our predecessors fought for. The negative effects of surveillance on the fundamental freedoms of expression and association may be less evident in an era of ubiquitous digital connection, but are no less important.

In a 2013 report, Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, discussed the ways in which mass surveillance can harm expression. He wrote:

Undue interference with individuals’ privacy can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas. Restrictions of anonymity in communication, for example, have an evident chilling effect on victims of all forms of violence and abuse, who may be reluctant to report for fear of double victimization. 8

The harmful effects of surveillance on expression and association are undeniably linked – the right to organise is imperative for political expression and the advancement of ideas. In the US, although the two rights are linked in the First Amendment, historically, they have sometimes been treated separately.

In a landmark 1958 case, NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court of the US held that if the state forced the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to hand over its membership lists, its members’ rights to assemble and organise would be violated.9 This case set the precedent for the Supreme Court’s foray into the constitutionally guaranteed right to association after decades of government attempts to shun “disloyal” individuals.

Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for a unanimous court:

This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations. Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order. Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs. 10

Today, the data collected by the NSA’s various surveillance programmes poses a similar threat to the collection of membership lists. The vast majority of what the NSA collects is metadata, an ambiguous term that in this case describes the data surrounding one’s communications. That is to say, if the content of one’s phone call is the data, the metadata could include the number called, the time of the call, and the location from which the call was made.

The danger in metadata is that it allows the surveiller to map our networks and activities, making us think twice before communicating with a certain group or individual. In a surveillance state, this can have profound implications: Think of Uganda, for example, where a legal crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists is currently underway. Under surveillance, a gay youth seeking community or health care faces significant risks just for the simple act of making a phone call or sending an email.

In many countries, there has long been a legal distinction between the content of a message (that is, the message itself), and the “communications data”, or metadata. This distinction is based on the traditional model of postal mail, where information written on the outside of an envelope is distinguished from the content of the envelope. This distinction is, however, rendered nearly meaningless by modern surveillance methods, which can capture far more than the destination of a communication, and en masse.11

In order to argue effectively for and reclaim the right to associate freely without surveillance, it is imperative that such a distinction be made. Digital metadata is different from analogue metadata and its wide-scale capture creates a chilling effect on speech and association. It is time for fresh thinking on the impact of the culture of surveillance on our daily habits.

Changing culture, changing habits

The way that we interact on the internet is undoubtedly changing as a result of our knowledge of mass surveillance. Fortunately, fear and withdrawal are not the only reaction to this knowledge; our habits are changing as well. A September 2013 Pew survey found that 86% of internet users have taken steps to “remove or mask their digital footprints” – steps ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email. A further 55% of users have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organisations, or the government. 12

Corporations – lambasted for their alleged cooperation with the NSA – are responding to the increased public awareness of mass surveillance as well. In early 2013, before the Snowden revelations, encrypted traffic accounted for 2.29% of all peak hour traffic in North America; now it spans 3.8%. In Europe and Latin America, the increase in encrypted traffic is starker: 1.47% to 6.10% and 1.8 to 10.37%, respectively. 13

It is also telling that journalism organisations have stepped up in the wake of the Snowden revelations, putting into place systems that will protect future whistleblowers. Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, stated in 2013 that “[surveillance has] put a chill on really what’s a healthy discourse between journalist and our sources and its sources who risk going to prison.” 14 This realisation has led several publications – including the Guardian and the Washington Post – to implement a whistleblower platform called SecureDrop, which allows sources to share information with media organisations anonymously and securely.

Similarly, the public discussion around the use of encryption is also growing, as is the funding and development of privacy-enhancing technologies. Governmental and quasi-governmental organisations, such as the US State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors, as well as non-profits such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation, have increased funding toward tools that can be used to thwart surveillance attempts.

The aforementioned Pew study found that 68% of internet users believe laws are insufficient in protecting their privacy online.15 Numerous attempts have been made globally to effect change through legal and political channels. The 13 Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, 16 developed prior to the Snowden revelations, provides a framework for policy making at the state level. Many of the Principles’ 400-plus signatories are utilising the document in their policy advocacy.

As awareness of mass surveillance increases among the populace, it follows that new tactics for opposing it will arise. Given the complex nature of digital spying and the interlinked set of rights it affects, this is imperative. Ending mass surveillance requires consideration not only of its effect on privacy, but its impact on expression and association as well.

benefits of government surveillance


AliExpress is a massively popular Chinese online retail service owned by Alibaba Group. It was launched in 2010 and hasn’t stopped its journey to becoming the ‘biggest online marketplace of the world‘ ever-since. AliExpress stands toe-to-toe even with Amazon in terms of buyers worldwide. It offers wholesale goods at direct-to-consumer prices from Chinese sellers.×280&!4&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=2fBBlhNtVX&p=https%3A//

It also works as a great dropshipping model for a lot of e-commerce entrepreneurs. Along with a lot of good sides, AliExpress has some cons as well. The biggest problem is the shipping time of AliExpress orders, which is pretty long considering the goods come from China. Also, some orders can be very expensive after shipping charges and taxes.

So, it is a good thing to have some AliExpress alternatives whenever you don’t like its services. That’s why we are telling you about 21 best sites like AliExpress. Some of these websites offer cheaper prices and faster shipping on certain products. And, you can also use them to maintain a nice profit margin for your dropshipping business.


LightInTheBox is the perfect AliExpress alternative as it is also a Chinese e-Store. It sells hot and trending products across the globe. Their products range from phone and electronics to fashion, jewelry, shoes, bags, and many other items. You can find almost anything here at a very cheap price.

The delivery time of LightInTheBox is also similar to AliExpress as their warehouses are located only in China. But, you may get a faster shipping time due to having fewer orders to ship. You can pay for your orders with PayPal, Western Union, or your credit card.


Wish is a widely popular online marketplace where you can buy almost anything. From clothing to footwear, electronics, healthcare items, and many more things, you can get them all for an incredibly cheap price. They are also known to offer great deals and coupons to their new customers.

Their shipping time is also faster than AliExpress as their products come from sellers located in small countries. Wish also provides an advanced rating system that is very helpful for both the consumers as well as sellers. It helps promote good ones.


Overstock is a US-based online marketplace. It makes profit by selling wholesale products at a highly cheap price tag. A major portion of their stock is comprised of overstock from the major retailers or their seconds. You can find some really amusing deals here. The shipping time will also be lower as compared to the Chinese marketplaces. You can get your items within a week.

The product range of Overstock is incredible. You can find everything such as clothing, decor, kitchen appliances, and many more items. You can even find furniture and other big home items. So, you can use to fill your house with great stuff at a reduced price.


DealeXtreme, more popularly known as DX, is an amazing online marketplace. The website works in a very similar manner as ‘Wish’ and sells cheap products coming directly from sellers. It has partnered with many small businesses and sells its products to a wide base of audience.–_RTKnorrNoHPlHQlFURgdaOmLJfeXaQciHw%2CAGkb-H_3UArNGKcbghsCXs7QcmMeU3uuHWrGlkha-RV0hVwbz7UKLCjZ_mqE5gUi3GyHNtC_zzNmngCzeg&pvsid=3643442568505792&pem=761&!5&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=UteOFQVNNV&p=https%3A//

The shipping time is a problem with DX also because their warehouses are located in China. Apart from this, you can get some really worthy deals on DX. You should always keep an eye on their clearance sales for the best prices.


Gearbest is the perfect AliExpress alternative if you are looking to shop for the latest gadgets or electronic devices. It works with over 5000 Chinese brands and top suppliers to deliver the best products. It has products from top Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, and many others. But, it isn’t just an electronic store.

You can also find a massive range of other products as well. The prices available on GearBest are reduced, and you can even reduce them with the available coupons. They also have warehouses in multiple countries. So, you can get faster shipping from the local warehouse.


BangGood is another Chinese e-commerce platform that provides worldwide shipping of cheap goods. You can find almost anything on this website, from clothing to electronics, and even home items. The prices available are marked down from their original prices. You can also get amazing deals during special clearance sales.

BangGood provides a free $20 coupon to every new user. The shipping time for BangGood orders is faster than AliExpress for certain products. However, the regular shipping time is similar.


ChinaBrands is a widely popular Chinese e-Store where you can buy products at wholesale prices. You can find almost anything on this website at a highly affordable price. Their shipping prices are also low but you will get a long shipping time. It is the perfect website for buyers who want the lowest prices but can wait for their orders for at least a month.

Most of the ChinaBrands sellers run their factories from China, and their warehouses are located there only. This is the reason for the considerably long shipping time.


Bonanza is a unique American online marketplace where you can find a great range of products. They have over 20 million items from more than 50,000 sellers. It is a growing e-commerce store where even you can sell your items. It is a preferred platform by more than 20,000 entrepreneurial sellers. You can find some really amazing handcrafted items and collectibles here.

For people looking to shop regular items, this store may disappoint you a little. The prices of some items may be a little higher than some Chinese stores. But, the quality provided will be worth it.


Here are 21 AliExpress Alternatives that you can use to shop online.

  1. LightInTheBox
  2. Wish
  3. Overstock
  4. DealXtreme (DX)
  5. GearBest
  6. BangGood
  7. ChinaBrands
  8. Bonanza
  9. DHGate
  10. TinyDeal
  11. Target
  12. MiniInTheBox
  13. GeekBuying
  14. Jet
  15. TomTop
  16. Target
  17. MadeInChina
  18. American Greenwood
  19. Walmart
  20. eBay
  21. Amazon


AliExpress is amazing but it is always good to have options when you are shopping. So, these are the 21 best sites like AliExpress. If you ever feel like you should look somewhere else, these are some stores that you should visit. You can also use these for your dropshipping business if you are an aspiring entrepreneur. Make sure you have a solid plan before beginning.

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