The advent of the cyber age fundamentally reduced our ability to protect our privacy: the main threat is no longer the extent of the personal information is collected by various surveillance systems of the government (or corporations)—but how the information is used. Once collected, information can very often be accessed and misused by anyone in the world. This book lays out the foundations for a privacy doctrine suitable to the cyber age and examines the implications of the availability of personal information to corporations and major federal agencies.
Fifty years ago, in 1984, George Orwell imagined a future in which privacy was demolished by a totalitarian state that used spies, video surveillance, historical revisionism, and control over the media to maintain its power. Those who worry about personal privacy and identity–especially in this day of technologies that encroach upon these rights–still use Orwell's "Big Brother" language to discuss privacy issues. But the reality is that the age of a monolithic Big Brother is over. And yet the threats are perhaps even more likely to destroy the rights we've assumed were ours.Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century shows how, in these early years of the 21st century, advances in technology endanger our privacy in ways never before imagined. Direct marketers and retailers track our every purchase; surveillance cameras observe our movements; mobile phones will soon report our location to those who want to track us; government eavesdroppers listen in on private communications; misused medical records turn our bodies and our histories against us; and linked databases assemble detailed consumer profiles used to predict and influence our behavior. Privacy–the most basic of our civil rights–is in grave peril.Simson Garfinkel–journalist, entrepreneur, and international authority on computer security–has devoted his career to testing new technologies and warning about their implications. This newly revised update of the popular hardcover edition of Database Nation is his compelling account of how invasive technologies will affect our lives in the coming years. It's a timely, far-reaching, entertaining, and thought-provoking look at the serious threats to privacy facing us today. The book poses a disturbing question: how can we protect our basic rights to privacy, identity, and autonomy when technology is making invasion and control easier than ever before?Garfinkel's captivating blend of journalism, storytelling, and futurism is a call to arms. It will frighten, entertain, and ultimately convince us that we must take action now to protect our privacy and identity before it's too late.
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.
Continue reading “The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State”
In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.
Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.
Continue reading “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State”
Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning are key figures in the struggles playing out in our democracies over internet use, state secrets, and mass surveillance in the age of terror. When not decried as traitors, they are seen as whistleblowers whose crucial revelations are meant to denounce a problem or correct an injustice. Yet, for Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, they are much more than that. Snowden, Assange, and Manning are exemplars who have reinvented an art of revolt. Consciously or no, they have inaugurated a new form of political action and a new identity for the political subject. Anonymity as practiced by WikiLeaks and the flight and requests for asylum of Snowden and Assange break with traditional forms of democratic protest. Yet we can hardly dismiss them as acts of cowardice. Rather, as Lagasnerie suggests, such solitary choices challenge us to question classic modes of collective action, calling old conceptions of the state and citizenship into question and inviting us to reformulate the language of critical philosophy. In the process, he pays homage to the actions and lives of these three figures.