Library Journal Review of Data & Goliath

Starred Review

Schneier, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has written an exceptionally readable yet thoroughly chilling book about the dangers of the ubiquitous mass surveillance we face thanks to modern life. While the author focuses on the United States, the rest of the world is largely capable of nearly the same levels of surveillance thanks to the openness of the Internet and the availability of cell phones. Schneier describes the types of data being collected about us, stemming from our interactions, activities, purchases, and where we go. As he competently explains, this “metadata” provides those collecting it with the entire framework of our existence: who we converse with and the duration of the conversation, the things we read (especially electronically), and what we buy. Corporations use this data to deliver targeted advertising and sell our information to other corporations at a large profit. Governments employ the data to map our interactions and otherwise infiltrate our privacy. As Schneier helps us understand the issues, he makes the case that “Ubiquitous mass surveillance is the enemy of democracy, liberty, freedom, and progress.” Though there are few signs of change in corporate and government surveillance practices, Schneier devotes a chapter to practical solutions we can use to limit how we are tracked, information about how other countries approach privacy, and a set of potential principles we could adopt. ­VERDICT This timely, significant, and engaging book will appeal to citizens and noncitizens alike, to those who have ever used credit or debit cards to make purchases, who have browsed the Internet, who use email, who make purchases online…the list goes on. An essential book for almost everyone. —Candice Kail, Columbia Univ. Libs., New York

Categories: Book Reviews, Data and Goliath, Text

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.