Data and Goliath (Book Review)
Security technologist, commentator, and popular author Schneier was one of the first to analyze the documentation of NSA surveillance practices leaked by Edward Snowden. What he discovered fueled his mission to zap our complacency regarding “ubiquitous mass surveillance.” In this mind-blowing exposé, backed by 130 pages of revelatory notes, Schneier reveals exactly how all the information generated by our smartphones and computers regarding our exact location, communications, financial and medical transactions, everything we read in digital form, and every Google search is captured, stored, and traded. He elucidates the difference between data and metadata (an email’s content is data; all records pertaining to the sender, recipient, and routing are metadata), and explains how metadata is used to track our activities, interests, and concerns. With meticulously researched details and high-velocity prose, he outs the federal government’s intrusive “data mining,” the immensely profitable big-data industry, and the hidden collusion between them. Schneier convincingly argues that our privacy is “an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect” and states that constant surveillance is too high a price to pay for electronic convenience. By matching jolting disclosures of alarming realities with lucid guiding principles and policy recommendations for forging new surveillance laws and regulations, Schneier has created an invaluable and empowering call to awareness and action.