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Targeted surveillance (or targeted interception) is a form of surveillance, such as wiretapping, that is directed towards specific persons of interest, and is distinguishable from mass surveillance (or bulk interception). Both untargeted and targeted surveillance is routinely accused of treating innocent people as suspects in ways that are unfair, of violating human rights, international treaties and conventions as well as national laws, and of failing to pursue security effectively. The United Kingdom's House of Lords also distinguishes between these two broad types of surveillance:

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  • Targeted surveillance (or targeted interception) is a form of surveillance, such as wiretapping, that is directed towards specific persons of interest, and is distinguishable from mass surveillance (or bulk interception). Both untargeted and targeted surveillance is routinely accused of treating innocent people as suspects in ways that are unfair, of violating human rights, international treaties and conventions as well as national laws, and of failing to pursue security effectively. A 2014 report to the UN General Assembly by the United Nations' top official for counter-terrorism and human rights condemned mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. The report also makes a distinction between "targeted surveillance" - which "depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization" — and "mass surveillance", by which "states with high levels of Internet penetration can [...] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites". The United Kingdom's House of Lords also distinguishes between these two broad types of surveillance: * Mass surveillance is also known as “passive” or “undirected” surveillance. [...] It is not targeted on any particular individual but gathers images and information for possible future use. CCTV and databases are examples of mass surveillance. * Targeted surveillance is surveillance directed at particular individuals and can involve the use of specific powers by authorised public agencies. Targeted surveillance can be carried out overtly or covertly, and can involve human agents. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), targeted covert surveillance is “directed” if it is carried out for a specific investigation or operation. By comparison, if it is carried out on designated premises or on a vehicle, it is “intrusive” surveillance. Targeting methods include the interception of communications, the use of communications “traffic” data, visual surveillance devices, and devices that sense movement, objects or persons. Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime, including terrorism, is justified, according to a decision by the European Court of Justice.
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  • Targeted surveillance (or targeted interception) is a form of surveillance, such as wiretapping, that is directed towards specific persons of interest, and is distinguishable from mass surveillance (or bulk interception). Both untargeted and targeted surveillance is routinely accused of treating innocent people as suspects in ways that are unfair, of violating human rights, international treaties and conventions as well as national laws, and of failing to pursue security effectively. The United Kingdom's House of Lords also distinguishes between these two broad types of surveillance:
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  • Targeted surveillance
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  • Edward J. Snowden
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