Electronic Frontier Foundation

Spot the Surveillance

Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the 2018 winners of the Journalism 360 Challenge. See all the winners.


  • Aaron Jue, Development Director
  • Michelle Chang, UX Designer
  • Lena Gunn, Project Manager
  • Max Hunter, Engineering and Design Director
  • Dave Maass, Senior Investigative Researcher
  • Soraya Okuda, Education + Design Lead
  • Laura Schatzkin, Web Developer

Project Description

Spot the Surveillance is an immersive virtual reality experience that gives participants unique insight into the privacy-invasive technologies creeping into public spaces around the world. Using Mozilla’s open source A-Frame programming language, we are developing a realistic environment that can showcase the types of equipment law enforcement agencies deploy in our communities with increasing frequency: video recording, automated license plate readers, cell-site simulators, body-worn cameras, surveillance drones, and more.

In addition to helping the participant identify such tools by sight, Spot the Surveillance provides important information about how the technologies function. Spot the Surveillance will help the public keep pace with law enforcement’s rapidly-advancing use of technology.

Journalists, technologists, and lawmakers alike have just begun to grapple with the potential consequences of advanced surveillance tools. These data collection points can reveal highly detailed personal information about people’s lives: when we’re at home, whether we’re seeing a therapist, where we worship, or what kind of political meetings we might attend. Moreover, policies governing their use are often unseen by the public. It raises a host of questions about how these tools are being deployed and the effects they will have on ourselves and our communities.

EFF brings nearly 30 years of experience analyzing the civil liberties implications of complex technologies, and educating field experts as well as laypeople. Spot the Surveillance builds upon the extensive resources published on EFF’s Street-Level Surveillance website, designed for members of the public, advocacy organizations, defense attorneys, policymakers, and journalists who often are not getting the straight story from police representatives or the vendors marketing this equipment. Spot the Surveillance allows participants to encounter this controversial — and increasingly common  technology first hand.

Play the Spot the Surveillance game now.