How Surveillance Has Evolved In The United States [Timeline]

With PRISM, the tradition of surveillance in America only grows. Here is an interactive timeline.

President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.

History of Wiretapping

President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.Wikimedia Commons

Americans have been spying on each other since the earliest days of the republic. This interactive timeline is an attempt to highlight some of the most important events in that history, though it is by no means comprehensive: each event, in turn, has its own string of relevant events, nearly ad infinitum. Still, one spin through this timeline demonstrates that the most recent NSA scandal is far from unheard of, that public memory is depressingly short, and that significant public outcry is rare. Surveillance, by now, is an American tradition.

UPDATE—September 2017: Site security is important to us. For that reason, we needed to disable this interactive element, which is attached to a website without a secure connection. You can still see the infographic here.