Word of the Day


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The process of carefully watching a person or place that may be involved in criminal activity.

The close study or observation of suspected criminal behaviour is referred to as surveillance. This involves the monitoring of individuals with the intention of predicting or influencing behaviour to prevent harm and protect the public. Governments use various forms of surveillance to gather information, investigate and prevent crime.

Closed-circuit television, or CCTV, is a form of public surveillance technology, the implementation of which is largely viewed as a deterrent for criminal activity. However, surveillance is often perceived as a violation of privacy, as explored in George Orwell’s 1984 with his influential idiom: “Big Brother is watching you.”

Etymologically, surveillance originates from the French language via sur, which means “from above”, and veiller, which means “to watch”. This evocation of God’s all-seeing eye-in-the-sky denoted through its etymology was adopted by Jeremy Bentham in his conception of the Panopticon, a penitentiary architecturally designed to give prisoners the impression that they were being watched, without knowing whether or not they were. Surveillance is considered to have a direct effect on behaviour and is studied in academic disciplines concerning power and hegemony.

Britain’s largest arms producer has recently come under criticism for covertly selling mass surveillance technology to Middle Eastern governments such as Saudi Arabia, which could be used to spy on citizens. BAE Systems Supplied Intelligence has exported equipment that can collect and analyse electronic communications of millions of people.


the process of carefully watching a person or place that may be involved in a criminal activity
under surveillance: The police kept both men under surveillance for several months.

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