The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State

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Using exclusive access to key insiders, Shane Harris charts the rise of America's surveillance state over the past twenty-five years and highlights a dangerous paradox: Our government's strategy has made it harder to catch terrorists and easier to spy on the rest of us.

Our surveillance state was born in the brain of Admiral John Poindexter in 1983. Poindexter, Reagan's National Security Advisor, realized that the United States might have prevented the terrorist massacre of 241 Marines in Beirut if only intelligence agencies had been able to analyze in real time data they had on the attackers. Poindexter poured government know-how and funds into his dream-a system that would sift reams of data for signs of terrorist activity. Decades later, that elusive dream still captivates Washington. After the 2001 attacks, Poindexter returned to government with a controversial program, called Total Information Awareness, to detect the next attack. Today it is a secretly funded operation that can gather personal information on every American and millions of others worldwide.
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Regulating Speech in Cyberspace: Gatekeepers, Human Rights and Corporate Responsibility

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Private companies exert considerable control over the flow of information on the internet. Whether users are finding information with a search engine, communicating on a social networking site or accessing the internet through an ISP, access to participation can be blocked, channelled, edited or personalised. Such gatekeepers are powerful forces in facilitating or hindering freedom of expression online. This is problematic for a human rights system which has historically treated human rights as a government responsibility, and this is compounded by the largely light-touch regulatory approach to the internet in the west. Regulating Speech in Cyberspace explores how these gatekeepers operate at the intersection of three fields of study: regulation (more broadly, law), corporate social responsibility and human rights. It proposes an alternative corporate governance model for speech regulation, one that acts as a template for the increasingly common use of non-state-based models of governance for human rights.

Spying on Democracy: A Short History of Government/Corporate Collusion in the Cyber Age (City Lights Open Media)

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What does a Texas school district have in common with Macy's new shoe department? Both use Radio Frequency Identification, aptly nicknamed "spychips." Texas embeds them in students' ID cards; Macy's inserts them in thousands of shoes. Whether pinpointing grade-schoolers' whereabouts or shoppers' spending habits, each chip has a unique ID number, giving corporations and government agencies new ways to monitor individuals' behavior.

In Spying on Democracy, Heidi Boghosian documents the disturbing increase in surveillance of ordinary citizens. Many Americans might not realize the extent to which our government actively acquires personal information from telecommunications companies and other corporations about individuals who engage in lawful and constitutionally protected activities. Spying reveals how technology is used to categorize and monitor people based on their activities, their associations, their movements, their purchases, and their perceived political beliefs. Corporations and government intelligence agencies mine data from sources as diverse as unmanned drones and video surveillance cameras, iris scans and medical records, all while accessing and combing websites, e-mail lists, phone records, and social media sites to create databases about "persons of interest." If the trend is permitted to continue, we will soon live in a society where nothing is confidential, no information is really secure, and our civil liberties are under constant surveillance and control.
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Privacy in Context (Stanford Law Books)

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Privacy is one of the most urgent issues associated with information technology and digital media. This book claims that what people really care about when they complain and protest that privacy has been violated is not the act of sharing information itself—most people understand that this is crucial to social life —but the inappropriate, improper sharing of information.
Arguing that privacy concerns should not be limited solely to concern about control over personal information, Helen Nissenbaum counters that information ought to be distributed and protected according to norms governing distinct social contexts—whether it be workplace, health care, schools, or among family and friends. She warns that basic distinctions between public and private, informing many current privacy policies, in fact obscure more than they clarify. In truth, contemporary information systems should alarm us only when they function without regard for social norms and values, and thereby weaken the fabric of social life.

Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance

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An inside look at who’s watching you, what they know and why it matters. We are being watched.

We see online ads from websites we’ve visited, long after we’ve moved on to other interests. Our smartphones and cars transmit our location, enabling us to know what’s in the neighborhood but also enabling others to track us. And the federal government, we recently learned, has been conducting a massive data-gathering surveillance operation across the Internet and on our phone lines.
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