Ok, so, say you’re a person the US government doesn’t like very much. Say you’re charismatic, and give great speeches, and you have ideas they don’t care for. I dunno, maybe that we shouldn’t be killing people without a trial. You know, one of those weird liberal ideas, that extrajudicial executions are bad. And you’ve got some real political momentum, to the point that you might actually cause dicomfort to the military-industrial complex.
So, in years prior, they’d have been kind of hampered in their ability to fight you. No more. Now, they can know every friend you have, and possibly every friend you’ve had since 2001. All your lovers, all your enemies, your social groups, your online groups, and so on.
If you’re male, did you ever stick your dick in crazy? Well, guess what, she’s now on CNN, talking about you. Did you ever get into an intemperate argument? Suddenly, that’s national news. If you haven’t been absolutely perfect in all respects, everyone is going to know all about it.
But, let’s say you have been perfect. That doesn’t matter. Somewhere in your friends network, and you will have a very large friends network if you have real political influence, there will be people that have been imperfect, maybe very badly imperfect.
Everyone that you’ve ever known that has, up until now, gotten away with stuff, is going to suddenly get a visit from the FBI, and they’re going to use their false-recording tactic, where the second agent writes that they said things they never said. Suddenly, they’re in deep shit. And the FBI has them by the balls. They can either go to jail, or they can say really horrible, awful things about you. Like you raped them, maybe. Rape is a really good one.
In a world with ubiquitous government surveillance, there cannot be meaningful social change, because the conservatives in the government will use their unlimited power to stifle and suppress all dissent. Leaders will not be able to develop, because they will be discredited as soon as they start to form. And major social change without central leadership is very rare.
If the US had had these powers in the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement would not have been successful, and everyone important in Martin Luther King’s terrorist network would be in prison, or perhaps in unmarked graves.
Shamelessly copied from malor’s comment on What the NSA can do with “big data”.