Data and Goliath Makes New York Times Best-Seller List

The March 22 best-seller list from the New York Times will list me as #6 in the hardcover nonfiction category, and #13 in the combined paper/e-book category. This is amazing, really. The book just barely crossed #400 on Amazon this week, but it seems that other booksellers did more.

There are new reviews from the LA Times, Lawfare, EFF, and Slashdot.

The Internet Society recorded a short video of me talking about my book. I’ve given longer talks, and videos should be up soon. “Science Friday” interviewed me about my book.

Amazon has it back in stock. And, as always, more information on the book’s website.

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 2:05 PM21 Comments


Sean March 12, 2015 2:21 PM

I must not have been paying attention; this is the first I’ve heard of it being released. Looking forward to it.

Paul Bay March 12, 2015 2:21 PM

Hi Bruce. I bought your book this week, and I’m recommending it to my book club this month. I’ve read your last 3 books, and this one reads just as good. I hope to see you at the Edina, MN book signing next week. Enjoy your day! Paul

Left of Bob March 12, 2015 2:51 PM

Love the fact that you made the NYT best seller list. I bought Applied Cryptography when it came out, and have followed your writing since it was email list only. It is fantastic to see you and these topics reaching a wider audience.

Spaceman Spiff March 12, 2015 2:59 PM

Applied Cryptography is one of my “bibles”. I’ll have to order a copy of this one PDQ. Congrats Bruce!

Daniel March 12, 2015 3:58 PM

Let me be the first to say I wasn’t impressed by the book. Jack Goldsmith’s brief comment gets to the root of the book’s weakness–it doesn’t have anything to say to those who think that surveillance isn’t anything to worry about. Pointing out the hypocrisy that Schmidt and Zuckerberg peddle surveillance but seek all the privacy they can handle is the type of debating point that goes over well when preaching to the choir but it is the type of rhetorical point that makes a poster like Skeptical (on these forums) rightly snort with derision.

Is the book well-written? Yes. Insightful and comprehensive? Yes. But I thought it failed to take the opposing point of view seriously and that really damaged the book’s usefulness for me.

Skeptical recently said he’d love to see a book that closely argued the pros and cons of why we should chose security over surveillance. Me to. I am disappointed that this book was not it.

Rex Rollman March 12, 2015 4:15 PM

I bought a DRM-Free paper copy from Barnes & Noble the other day. I am up to chapter six and I am enjoying it so far.

When bedwetters attack March 12, 2015 4:56 PM

Quoting Jack Goldsmith – the Stasi shyster who shitcanned Article 17 and Constitution Article VI so lamely that he couldn’t even get it past Comey – this Daniel demands that you debunk his favorite idiotic viewpoint. Uh, oh, better do it quick or you’re gonna plunge off the best-seller list.

Daniel, you want somebody to take your pig-ignorant terror hysteria seriously, go find a FISA felon. They never shut up about how they had to commit millions of felony offenses and shred the supreme law of the land, or else we’ll all die.

Posting from TOR March 12, 2015 7:28 PM

I also bought your Applied Cryptography back during the crypto wars. Ah, fond memories. Anyway, fast forward a couple of decades. I just bought a hardback edition of Data and Goliath and I’m on Chapter 11. It is very well written, and I really hope that it breaks through the lack of concern about privacy I see in many people.

Mentioned in the book is the concern that we will self-censor because anything we say can be dredged up years later and used to humiliate or destroy us. Remarkably, and not mentioned in the book, is that things said even prior to the commericialization of the Internet are out there and could be used to humiliate or destroy us. Some years ago, Google bought Deja News. Discussions that seemed ephemeral at the time can be searched decades later.

I am fairly sure that immediately after 9/11, the government was actively text mining Usenet posts. I spent about six years on a TSA Selectee list and I firmly believe it was related to Usenet posting activity. Just for clarification, my only contact with law enforcement was a speeding ticket in 1985.

Based on this Usenet text mining experience, I’ve told my family to stay off Facebook and Google entirely. Virtually anything posted will be out there forever, and could affect them getting a job, a mortgage, and even put on the TSA Selectee list. Its just not worth the risk. I’ll join Bruce in asking is this how we want our society to be going forward, but as he mentions in the book, the industry government feedback loop is so strong I think its unbreakable.

Dirk Praet March 12, 2015 8:30 PM

@ Daniel

… it doesn’t have anything to say to those who think that surveillance isn’t anything to worry about.

Then perhaps you could enlighten us why we shouldn’t have anything to fear from a surveillance society ? What, according to you, is the opposing view? I’ll throw in some clues:

  • If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.
  • There are gazillions of well-organised, bloodthirsty terrorists out there who hate our liberties. Without these programs, we’re all gonna die.
  • The surveillance programs are all legal, constitutional and subject to meticulous oversight.
  • It is impossible to go into details of the many terrorist attacks that have been foiled by these programs because that would endanger national security. Trust your government. They would never lie to us.
  • Bulk interception does not equal mass surveillance.
  • Non-US citizens have no rights, even if international treaties say they do, and our right to spy on them trumps the laws of their countries anyway.
  • Companies like Google and Facebook do value the privacy of their customers, and there’s really nothing wrong with them tracking our every move.

Mike B. March 12, 2015 9:11 PM

When I read that it is #6 on the NYT Best Seller List, the first thing that came to mind was, “How many people are buying this book thinking it’s the Star Trek novel?”


Bruce Schneier March 13, 2015 8:59 AM

“When I read that it is #6 on the NYT Best Seller List, the first thing that came to mind was, ‘How many people are buying this book thinking it’s the Star Trek novel?'”

I’m okay with that.

DanL March 13, 2015 9:47 AM

I visited the Amazon link and checked out the “Look Inside” option, then chose “Surprise Me”. To my pleasant surprise, it started me on chapter 10 “Privacy”, and begins by tearing apart the “If you don’t have anything to hide…” statement.

For that chapter alone this should be required reading of anyone interested in security beyond the technological aspects…

Added to my wish-list!

Clive Robinson March 13, 2015 10:37 AM

@ Bruce,

You forgot to add “as long as they read it”

Otherwise we might think you were getting a little mercenary 😉

Skeptical March 14, 2015 4:11 PM

Congratulations on the success of the book! Should be able to read it soon, and looking forward to it.

Harvey March 16, 2015 1:06 PM

Privacy is priceless, and your outstanding book should be required reading for anyone who values their privacy and especially for anyone who doesn’t. I have one serious practical question: You said on page 218 that,”…I never access my e-mail via the web.” How can one avoid the web when accessing their e-mail? I admit that I rate low on computer skills but I can’t find an answer or figure that out.

BoppingAround March 16, 2015 5:29 PM

Kids these days 🙂 Just jesting. Using a standalone e-mail client such as Claws Mail or Thunderbird will do the job without utilising the Web.

Martin Budden March 18, 2015 11:31 AM

I’ve just bought this on Kindle. Unfortunately the Table of Contents seems disabled. Is this deliberate or an oversight? It makes the book significantly less useful. Also, the chapters are titled “1”, “2” etc, so it is not even possible to get to Chapter 6 (say) by searching for “Chapter 6”.

John Galt III March 18, 2015 8:56 PM

from the excellent daily news compendium here:

A critique of a review of a book by Bruce Schneier
March 17, 2015 Cathy O’Neil, mathbabe

I haven’t yet read Bruce Schneier’s new book, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles To Collect Your Data and Control Your World. I plan to in the coming days, while I’m traveling with my kids for spring break.

Even so, I already feel capable of critiquing this review of his book (hat tip Jordan Ellenberg), written by Columbia Business School Professor and Investment Banker Jonathan Knee. You see, I’m writing a book myself on big data, so I feel like I understand many of the issues intimately.

The review starts out flattering, but then it hits this turn:

When it comes to his specific policy recommendations, however, Mr. Schneier becomes significantly less compelling. And the underlying philosophy that emerges — once he has dispensed with all pretense of an evenhanded presentation of the issues — seems actually subversive of the very democratic principles that he claims animates his mission.

That’s a pretty hefty charge. Let’s take a look into Knee’s evidence that Schneier wants to subvert democratic principles.


First, he complains that Schneier wants the government to stop collecting and mining massive amounts of data in its search for terrorists. Knee thinks this is dumb because it would be great to have lots of data on the “bad guys” once we catch them.

Any time someone uses the phrase “bad guys,” it makes me wince.

But putting that aside, Knee is either ignorant of or is completely ignoring what mass surveillance and data dredging actually creates: the false positives, the time and money and attention, not to mention the potential for misuse and hacking. Knee’s opinion on that is simply that we normal citizens just don’t know enough to have an opinion on whether it works, including Schneier, and in spite of Schneier knowing Snowden pretty well.

It’s just like waterboarding – Knee says – we can’t be sure it isn’t a great fucking idea.

Wait, before we move on, who is more pro-democracy, the guy who wants to stop totalitarian social control methods, or the guy who wants to leave it to the opaque authorities?

…more on the web…

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