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Mass surveillance is the pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof. Mass surveillance has been widely criticized on several grounds such as violations of privacy rights, illegality, and for preventing political and social freedoms, which some fear will ultimately lead to a totalitarian state where political dissent is crushed by COINTELPRO -like programs. Such a state may also be referred to as an Electronic Police State . [ edit ] State enforced Privacy International's 2007 survey, covering 47 countries, indicated that there had been an increase in surveillance and a decline in the performance of privacy safeguards, compared to the previous year. Balancing these factors, eight countries were rated as being 'endemic surveillance societies'.
In general, censorship in the United States , which involves the suppression of speech or other public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech , which is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution . This freedom, though fundamental, has also been accompanied since its enshrinement with contest and controversy. For instance, restraints increased during periods of widespread anti-communist sentiment, as exemplified by the hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities . It is also legal to express certain forms of hate speech so long as one does not engage in the acts being discussed, or urge others to commit illegal acts. However, more severe forms have led to people or groups such as the Ku Klux Klan being denied certain marching permits or the Westboro Baptist Church being sued, though the initially adverse ruling against the latter was later overturned on appeal in the US Supreme Court .
Freedman v. Maryland , 380 U.S. 51 (1965), is a United States Supreme Court case that ended government-operated rating boards with a decision that a rating board could only approve a film and had no power to ban a film. The ruling also concluded that a rating board must either approve a film within a reasonable time, or go to court to stop a film from being shown in theatres. Other court cases determined that television stations are federally licensed, so local rating boards have no jurisdiction over films shown on television. When the movie industry set up its own rating system—the Motion Picture Association of America —most state and local boards ceased operating.