In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, the U.S. government has embraced new tools and new powers to track the movements of people within America's borders. While headlines about increased scrutiny may seem familiar, most Americans don't know the half of it. Government and the private sector are busily teaming up to create a surveillance society unlike the world has ever seen.
Airs Sunday January 23 at 4PM on 93.9 and 8PM on AM 820
In the 1990s, businesses in the United States experienced a data revolution. Computers and corporations voraciously collected information on Americans, 24 hours a day: not just our names, addresses, and social security numbers, but what we read, the cars we drive, our financial histories, our vacationing habits. For years the data companies collected this information almost exclusively for private enterprise.
Then came September 11, 2001. Soon afterward, data entrepreneurs and government officials joined forces. At the same time, Congress passed the Patriot Act, stripping away crucial restrictions on domestic surveillance. The result: a U.S. government with unprecedented powers to spy on its own citizens.
This investigative documentary tells the story of the nation's quest to use data and surveillance technology as a magic bullet. It makes sense of how it happened and explores the implications. Washington Post reporter Robert O'Harrow and American RadioWorks producer John Biewen take you behind the scenes to meet powerful but little-known data moguls, senior government officials, and ordinary people whose lives have been changed along the way.
Produced by ARW's John Biewen and Robert O'Harrow of The Washington Post in conjunction with the Center for Investigative Reporting and ABC News. This project is a collaboration with the Washington Post and the Center for Investigative Reporting.