WebInvestigator.KK.org - by F. Kaskais

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Produced by Ariane Wu | Credits

From cellphone spying to facial scanning technology to massive data farms, it’s no secret that the U.S. government is gathering loads of personal information on its citizens.

But few remember the origins of our modern surveillance state. Some argue that it was forged over 115 years ago, half a world away in the Philippine Islands.

The story begins in the mid-1870s, when a technological renaissance catapulted America into its first information revolution. Thomas Edison’s quadruplex telegraph and Philo Remington’s typewriter allowed data to be recorded accurately and transmitted quickly. Inventions such as the electrical tabulating machine and the Dewey Decimal System could count, catalog and retrieve huge amounts of information efficiently. Photography was becoming widely accessible, thanks to George Eastman’s roll film, and biometric criminal identification systems such as fingerprinting were adopted from Europe. Our ability to manage, store and transmit data grew…

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