Panel: "Before Snowden. Technology as a tool of surveillance and intelligence gathering in the 20th century". Call for Papers for session (panel) at 45th annual ICOHTEC meeting in Saint-Étienne/France (2018)

Panel: "Before Snowden. Technology as a tool of surveillance and intelligence gathering in the 20th century". Call for Papers for session (panel) at 45th annual ICOHTEC meeting in Saint-Étienne/France (2018)

International Committee for the History of Technology
Jean Monnet University
Vom - Bis
17.07.2018 - 21.07.2018
Miroslaw Sikora

Panel (Session): Before Snowden. Technology as a tool of surveillance and intelligence gathering in the 20th century
[the panel is going to be organized as part of the 45th annual ICOHTEC meeting in Saint-Étienne/France (2018)]

In 2013 young but already experienced and promising CIA employee and NSA contractor disclosed to the global public (via media) his classified knowledge about US government’s surveillance on citizens over the past years. The implementation of those clandestine measures had been indeed legally justified as a part of the counter-terrorism policy of security and intelligence authorities. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Snowden- Affair was massive involvement of high-tech equipment and solutions that made it possible for the US government to get insight into the most sensitive (private) areas of its citizen’s activity.
However, eavesdropping, signal intelligence and cables intercepting, imaginary intelligence and internet espionage was and is applied by the security services worldwide not only against ordinary people, but also against state institution. The surveillance on highest German authorities and other allied governments around the world, that was revealed recently, is just an another proof of total dimension of intelligence collection by US spy-agencies nowadays. Though the capabilities of Russian and Chines counterparts gave way to America or UK, these countries (as well as other small ones) are running extensive intelligence operations taking advantage of modern technology. Chines hackers or Russian “trolls” are examples of confrontation in the IT-battlefield. Moreover chemistry and biology emerge as tools of security apparatus. The poisoning of FSB-defector Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium-210 is the best example.
However, the technology was a tool of intelligence, espionage and surveillance since the beginning of modern states dating back to the 18th century. First professional security services in France and Great Britain, USA and Russian Empire established in the turn of 19th and 20th centuries involved technical branches responsible for mapping, data storage and processing, miniaturized spy-cameras and weapons. The methods and tactics of using that equipment were developed simultaneously. Furthermore, along with the famous Kevin Mitnick case, the mutual spying among the multinationals competing for global markets became obvious.
The session aims at putting together at least some fragments of studies on the “high-tech in context of security”. It focuses on the 20thcentury, for it was the time when modern security apparatus was formed (already before the First World War) and expanded enormously (throughout the Cold War).
The following aspects are going to be discussed in particular:
1. The origins of mechanized and automated data processing and data bases for the internal use of state security apparatus in the first half of the 20th century.
2. Counterintelligence and the development of audiovisual surveillance during the Cold War in the West and in the East.
3. Photography and documents counterfeiting and production of fake identities as crucial area of interests for the intelligence agencies.
4. Computer and its role in data transfer, processing, as well as encoding, decoding, code breaking (GCHQ, NSA, FAPSI and the rest).
5. Safeguard providing with help of biometrics.
6. Biotechnology in the service of intelligence (collecting of biological profiles etc.).
7. FBI and KGB. Security culture in the West and in the East during the Cold War.
8. Technology and political police’s surveillance on societies in Warsaw Pact countries.
9. “Venona”, U-2 and others – operations that took advantage of high-tech.
10. Developing countries as fields of high-tech struggle of intelligence services.
11. Technology in use of opposition movements in communist bloc in 70s-80s.
12. Avoiding detection. Technology applied by terrorist organizations in Western Europe in 70s-90s.
13. Public awareness of being constantly observed.
14. Overwhelming technological possibilities as trigger for paranoia disorders among members of society.
15. High-tech surveillance leaks and scandals in media coverage throughout the century.

Please send paper proposals (300-500 words) to Miroslaw Sikora



Miroslaw Sikora

Institute of National Remembrance ul. Jozefowska 102, Katowice 40-145, Poland

+48 32 2070326

Veröffentlicht am
Weitere Informationen