This brief Essay offers a proposed taxonomy of the Snowden Disclosures. An informed discussion on the legality and constitutionality of the emerging cybersurveillance and mass dataveillance programs revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden necessitates the furtherance of cybersurveillance aptitude. This Essay contends, therefore, that a detailed examination of the Snowden disclosures requires not just a careful inquiry into the legal and constitutional framework that guides the oversight of these programs. A close interrogation also requires a careful inquiry into the big data architecture that guides them. This inquiry includes examining the underlying theories of data science and the rationales of big data-driven policymaking that may drive the expansion of big data cybersurveillance. These technological, theoretical, and policymaking movements are occurring within what has been termed by scholars as the National Surveillance State. Better understanding the manner in which intelligence gathering may be shifting away from small data surveillance methods and toward the adoption of big data cybersurveillance methods—and assessing the efficacy of this shift—can factually ground future debates on how best to constrain comprehensive and ubiquitous surveillance technologies at the dawn of the National Surveillance State.

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2015

Publication Information

72 Washington & Lee Law Review 1679-1768 (2015)