[Review] "Data and Goliath" by Bruce Schneier

Monday, July 13, 2015

I just finished reading Bruce Schneier's latest book, "Data and Goliath." I was apprehensive at first -- I'm a big fan of Schneier's posts online, but I found this randomly at the library and I was hoping not to be disappointed. In the end, it was well worth the read.

The book was split into three parts. In Part One, he discusses what a world of constant mass surveillance looks like. He illustrates what data everyone is leaking through ordinary activities, how people can and are monitored, and how this data can be used. In Part Two, he explains what is at stake: what the political and economic losses of surveillance are both in the US and abroad. And in Part Three, he explains what can be done about this in a three prong fashion: what the government should do; what corporations should do; and what we, the people, should do. All throughout, he provided compelling examples and illustrations, as well as footnotes with additional references (although, confusingly, these are not referenced inline but are merely listed at the end).

There were many compelling points in this book, and I can't list them here, but I want to call attention to one in particular. He puts out a call to action for the tech community to (paradoxically) create surveillance tools for the government to use - the argument being that "if we want organizations like the NSA to protect our privacy, we're going to have to give them new ways to perform their intelligence jobs".

Overall, I think he did a great job making these issues available for a non-technical audience. It was written in a way that will be open to everyone inside or outside the tech community. This book is a must-read in today's surveillance-filled world: buy it for your friends, get it from the library. Spread the word.

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