Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your Worldby Bruce Schneier Published 08 Feb 2016
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Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you're unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.
The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.
Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He brings his bestseller up-to-date with a new preface covering the latest developments, and then shows us exactly what we can do to reform government surveillance programs, shake up surveillance-based business models, and protect our individual privacy. You'll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.
"Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World" Reviews
Schneier é especialista em segurança e criptografia e contribuiu com a análise das revelações do Snowden sobre como governos e empresas espionam nossos dados pessoais. O livro é uma análise bem detalhada – e mais extensa do que o necessário, na minha opinião – sobre como isso acontece.
Ele passa por vários exemplos de vigilância, da voluntária à espionagem. Em seguida comenta sobre o que isso faz com as pessoas e como nossa qualidade de vida cai quando nos sentimos observados, além de como as falhas criadas para a espionagem são usadas por pessoas mal intencionadas, não só pela polícia e afins. Para depois terminar com recomendações de o que fazer para se proteger dessa vigilância toda, como se tornar um alvo mais difícil do que a maioria, e como o uso dos dados deveria ser regulado.
Big Data helps in the indirect way of realizing dystopias.
Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.
A book that is widely scattered and explains all aspects of the precarious situation to illustrate an increasingly threatening dilemma better. In contrast to other non-fiction books on the subject, which place the primary focus on the technical, economic, political or cultural aspect of the volatile situation and thus dilute it in part.
The application possibilities and therefore the misappropriation of big data are limitless, especially in cooperation with ever better neural networks and nationwide surveillance.
It is interesting how the desires on the part of the state can change. For example, if a system initially developed only for toll monitoring also arouses the interest of police and border guards. Many procedures seem to be tested on asylum seekers and foreigners, such as biometric passports and fingerprints. These were until recently obligatory only for these groups, but will now be imposed on all citizens. Every ten years new, of course, if one would like to call a valid passport his own.
The digitization of health data also offers exciting options for refusing potentially affected persons from chronic or hereditary diseases by insurance companies. In addition to the actual benefits of the evaluation, census delivers results that can be used in many other ways.
The names for the ever further expansion of the democratically highly questionable action of the policy are large eavesdropping, data retention or Patriot Act. Like their predecessors, they are often considered illegal by the Constitutional Court in various respects.
All efforts under the term "eGovernment" to bundle all the details of human life in one file, as well as the preventive monitoring of payment transactions using the example of SWIFT, round off the picture of the trend towards total control.
The state's attitude regarding civil rights shows in pure culture on the example of the "bootlegger are criminals" campaign. Which, with a draconian punishment catalog in favor of the media industry in the hindquarters, provides quite realistic expectations for the consequences of criminal copyright infringement. An exact investigation of the data of the illegal downloaders is seen as entirely legitimate. As with other copyright or state security endangering activities.
The intrinsic backwardness of rigorous bills for real protection of citizens' privacy and personal rights is significant for deliberately lousy policy in the interests of the state and the economy. Ever since the dawn of the Internet and the beginning of the ever-accelerating digitization of everyday life, efforts have been made neither at a regional nor supranational level to be able to counteract the hustle and bustle even in the first place.
Laws are being enacted to curtail further civil rights with far-reaching powers and deliberately spongy formulations that can be too widely interpreted.
In the wake of the scare tactics since 2001, all previous tentative efforts to establish realistic, applicable and executable measures to protect the population have been reversed. An ever stronger integration and merging of all aspects, be it social insurance periods, bank data, telephone connections, Internet use, illnesses, interests and private life, is driven forward. Also, either collected for profiling and analysis of potential buying behavior for companies or applied by the state to people spreading even remotely insubordination or subversive tendencies. What includes all relatives, friends, and co-workers of entirely respectable people, who represent a non-standard political opinion, engage in NGOs, participate in protest events or read reviews of books on the aspiring surveillance state.
One should look at the many examples of history in which, in the course of always one-sided shifted power structures came to the softening and consequent disintegration of the rule of law and democratic order. An ever-increasing co-operation of, for a good reason, strictly separated constitutional areas such as the police, ministry of the interior, intelligence, military, and politics has always been a vital alarm signal for drifting away in totalitarian directions. Towards those, they have been working for years offensively and forcefully.
Big Data hilft auf dem indirekten Weg der Verwirklichung von Dystopien.
Ein breit gestreutes und sämtliche Aspekte der prekären Lage erläuterndes Buch zur besseren Veranschaulichung eines immer bedrohlicher werdenden Dilemmas. Im Gegensatz zu anderen Sachbüchern zu dem Thema, die den Hauptfokus auf den technischen, wirtschaftlichen, politischen oder kulturell bedingten Aspekt der brisanten Sachlage legen und damit teilweise verwässern.
Die Anwendungsmöglichkeiten und damit auch Zweckentfremdungen von Big Data sind, vor allem in Kooperation mit immer besseren neuronalen Netzen und flächendeckender Überwachung, grenzenlos.
Interessant ist, wie sich die Begehrlichkeiten von Seiten des Staates verändern können. Etwa wenn ein anfangs nur zur Mautüberwachung entwickeltes System auch das Interesse von Polizei und Grenzschutz zu wecken beginnt. Wobei viele Verfahren probehalber scheinbar zuerst an Asylanten und Ausländern getestet zu werden scheinen, wie etwa die biometrischen Reisepässe samt Fingerabdrücken. Diese waren bis vor kurzem eigentlich nur für diese Gruppen obligat waren, werden jedoch nun sämtlichen Bürgern aufgezwungen werden. Alle 10 Jahre neu, versteht sich, möchte man einen gültigen Reisepass sein eigen nennen.
uch bieten die Digitalisierung der Gesundheitsdaten interessante Optionen zur Ablehnung potentiell von chronischen oder erblich bedingten Krankheiten betroffenen Personen für Versicherungskonzerne. Volkszählungen liefern neben dem eigentlich vorgegebenen Nutzen der Evaluierung noch vielfältig anders nutzbare Resultate.
Die Namen für die immer weitere Ausweitung des demokratisch hochgradig bedenklichen Handelns der Politik sind großer Lauschangriff, Vorratsdatenspeicherung oder Patriot Act. Sie werden, so wie ihre Vorgängermodelle, häufig im nachhinein in diversen Belangen vom Verfassungsgerichtshof als illegal bewertet.
Alle unter dem Begriff des „eGovernment“ zusammengefassten Bestrebungen, sämtliche Details eines menschlichen Lebens in einer Datei zu bündeln sind genauso wie die präventive Überwachung des Zahlungsverkehrs am Beispiel von SWIFT eine Abrundung des Bildes der Tendenz zur totalen Kontrolle.
Die staatliche Haltung bezüglich Bürgerrechten zeigt sich in Reinkultur am Beispiel der „Raubkopierer sind Verbrecher“ Kampagne. Die, mit einem drakonischen Strafenkatalog zugunsten der Medienindustrie in der Hinterhand, durchaus realistische Erwartungen für die Konsequenzen frevelhafter Copyrightverletzungen liefert. Eine genaue Eruierung der Daten der illegalen Herunterlader sei durchaus legitim. Wie bei anderen, die Urheberrechte oder die staatliche Sicherheit gefährdenden Aktivitäten.
Das systemimmanente Hinterherhinken rigiderer Gesetzesentwürfe zum wirklichen Schutz der Privatsphäre und Persönlichkeitsrechte der Bürger ist signifikant für eine bewusst schlechte Politik im Interesse von Staat und Wirtschaft. Schon seit den Urzeiten des Internets und dem Beginn der immer schneller voranschreitenden Digitalisierung des Alltags werden weder auf regionaler noch überstaatlicher Ebene Bemühungen unternommen, um dem Treiben auch nur im Ansatz entgegenwirken zu können.
Es werden Gesetze zur weiteren Einschränkung von Bürgerrechten mit weitgreifenden Befugnissen und bewusst schwammigen und zu mannigfacher Interpretation einladenden Formulierungen erlassen.
Im Zuge der Panikmache seit 2001 wurden sämtliche bisherigen zaghaften Bemühungen, realistische, anwendbare und exekutierbare Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Bevölkerung zu etablieren, ins Gegenteil verkehrt. Eine immer stärkere Verflechtung und Zusammenführung sämtlicher Aspekte, seien es Sozialversicherungszeiten, Bankdaten, Telefonverbindungen, Internetznutzung, Krankheiten, Interessen und Privatleben, wird vorangetrieben. Und entweder zwecks Profilerstellung und Analyse des potentiellen Kaufverhaltens für Unternehmen vereinnahmt oder von Staats wegen auf auch nur im Entferntesten Insubordination oder subversive Tendenzen verbreitende Personen angewandt. Was sämtliche Verwandte, Freunde und Arbeitskollegen von völlig unbescholtenen Personen mit einschließt, die eine von der Norm abweichende politische Meinung vertreten, sich in NGOs engagieren, bei Protestveranstaltungen mitmachen oder Rezensionen von Büchern über den angehenden Überwachungsstaat lesen.
Man sollte sich die vielen Beispiele der Geschichte vor Augen führen, in denen es im Zuge von immer einseitiger verschobenen Machtstrukturen zur Aufweichung und daraus resultierenden Zersetzung von Rechtsstaatlichkeit und demokratischer Ordnung kam. Wobei eine immer stärkere Zusammenarbeit von, laut Verfassung strikt zu trennenden Bereichen, wie etwa Polizei, Innenministerium, Geheimdienst, Militär und Politik, immer ein wesentliches Alarmsignal für ein Abdriften in totalitäre Richtungen war. Darauf wird seit Jahren offensiv und forciert hingearbeitet.
Reading this book was deeply unsettling. After Edward Snowden, perhaps none of us is naive about how easily information about any of us can be found, but the author (whom the dust jacket bills as "one of the world's foremost security experts") takes the reader into the belly of the beast, as it were. After the first chapter, I was reeling. I work with a colleague who is extremely careful with her electronic trail. I had always thought maybe she was a bit paranoid. I would blithely think, "oh, I'm too boring for anyone to care to track". Ha! We are ALL being tracked. The author says that people often say, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about". He notes that that patently understates the problem. People change, society changes, when you feel as though there is always someone watching. As he notes on page 32:
"Philosopher Jeremy Bentham conceived of his "panopticon" in the late 1700s as a way to build cheaper prisons. His idea was a prison where every inmate could be surveilled at any time, unawares. The inmate would have no choice but to assume that he was always being watched, and would therefore conform. This idea has been used as a metaphor for mass personal data collection, both on the Internet and off. On the Internet, surveillance is ubiquitous. All of us are being watched, all the time, and that data is being stored forever. This is what an information-age surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond Bentham's wildest dreams."
The last section of the book has chapters with "solutions for government", "solutions for corporations", and "solutions for the rest of us". In the course of the book he details how corporations track us in order to sell us more stuff, while government forces the corporations to share the data, and often to create "back doors" to data that compromise security for everyone. He does , however, discourage fatalism, saying (on page 225):
"There is strength in numbers, and if the public outcry grows, governments and corporations will be forced to respond. We are trying to prevent an authoritarian government like the one portrayed in Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', and a corporate-ruled state like the ones portrayed in countless dystopian cyberpunk science fiction novels. We are nowhere near either of those endpoints, but the train is moving in both those directions, and we need to apply the brakes."
He says we, as a society, have been ready to give up freedom for a sense of security, so stoking our fear has been a way to intrude on our privacy without an outcry. He notes that this is not unique to our own time period. On page 235, he comments:
"The government offers us this deal: if you let us have all of your data, we can protect you from crime and terrorism. It's a rip-off. It doesn't work. And, it overemphasizes group security at the expense of individual security. The bargain Google offers us is similar, and it's similarly out of balance: if you let us have all of your data and give up your privacy, we will show you advertisements you want to see---and we'll throw in free web search, e-mail, and all sorts of other services. Companies like Google and Facebook can only make that bargain when enough of us give up our privacy. The group can only benefit if enough individuals acquiesce."
He goes on to say (page 237):
"The big question is this: how do we design systems that make use of our data collectively to benefit society as a whole, while at the same time protecting people individually?....This is the fundamental issue of the information age. We can solve it, but it will require careful thinking about the specific issues and moral analysis of how different solutions affect our core values."
With 120 pages of bibliographical notes, you could really dig into this topic. Myself, I think I need to let all this settle a bit. As I said, it is creepy and unsettling...
I love the topic. I love the details provided in this book. But, to tell a story you need more than a great topic and a bunch of facts. One needs a narrative and an attitude to tie the pieces together. This book lacked the story telling 'je ne sais quas" (literal: "I don't know what", but figuratively "elusive quality") though he does have the attitude.
I don't think there is any current topic where I could be more interested in than along the lines of the merging of the data that is out there with computers and algorithms, and I would consider Edward Snowden a hero, because what we have learned from him and the potential to do harm (as well as good) with the merging of big data with computers and the power of using context and content that both government and corporations (and even private citizens) can use against us (or for us) as a potential threat to our liberty or a boon to our equality. Complete liberty means no equality, and complete equality means no liberty. There is a balance and books like this can offer a guideline, but it needs the story to tie the pieces together with a narrative of some kind.
I'll give an example, of a book that I just recently read. "Rise of the Machines", by Thomas Rid. He covers many of the same topics that were covered in this book, especially on the part of encryption and PGP (pretty good privacy). At the same time that book always had a theme woven into the story as a whole in which he was tying all the pieces together, and even summarized them in the final chapter for the dense reader like me. This book, "Data and Goliath", doesn't interweave them coherently and therefore made what should have been an incredibly exciting story for me into a dull story with a lot of facts.
My problem with this book is not that it didn't give the listener plenty of details, but it didn't give the listener an easy story to tell so one can, for example, share with colleagues over the water cooler while at work. The values we use to explain the world through science would include: simplicity, accuracy, prediction, fitting in to the web of knowledge, and lastly the ability to explain. In order to explain, one needs a story to put the pieces together this book doesn't offer that. (Galileo had a story to tell as well as plenty of details. Read "Dialogs Concerning Two Chief World Systems", e.g.).
I'm in the minority on this book. It gave me details which I loved, but it lacked a over arcing narrative that I could wrap my mind around. Good fiction needs a story to hook the listener, and non-fiction needs that narrative even more as to not bore. I like all genres of non-fiction except for the boring kind.
There is nothing that has made me more frightened of the prospect of Donald Trump as US President than reading this book. This is not because the book mentions Trump - it is a safe Trump-less read - but because the detailed image Schneier draws of the NSA, and its frenemies Google, Apple and other tech companies (not to mention low-profile security start-ups) offers a truly terrifying secret police state, able not only to know what we are thinking, but also to shape it. Schneier's moderate, chatty, factual tone counteracts the dystopian-future content, but of course, this simply reinforces the dawning realisation that we are at the dawn of technology/state/corporate alliances that could fundamentally change how democracy and society work.
The spine of the book is Schneier drawing on various sources - he heavily uses Snowden's leaked info but also records from various court cases, journalistic investigations and his own work (all meticulously footnoted for easy self-research) - to explain how data is collected, stored, traded and used by governments and corporations. The *strength* of the book though - the thing that will make it worth reading long after this info is out of date - is Schneier's clear understanding of *why* this occurs: how mass surveillance is about social control, whether that is exerted to stop us protesting or taking drugs, or to sell us things we don't need. Schneier carefully demolishes the myth that surveillance fights terrorism - devastatingly, he asserts (with footnotes!) that not a single terrorist attack has been prevented through mass surveillance techniques - all pre-emptive arrests have been the result of old-fashioned targeted investigation techniques. This makes sense, he points out - mass surveillance creates a huge amount of signal *noise* in the context of very rare, very secretive crime. If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, the last thing you want to do is pile on a lot more hay.
But mass surveillance works very well for social control. And yes, there is the standard panopticon reference here. But Schneier points out that knowing that everywhere we go, we are captured on camera - that if Trump became president and wanted a list of every person who attended a migrant rights rally last year, and their personal details, and hell, breakfast cereal preferences, this would be a trivial request for the NSA - this changes the way we start to behave. In this context, Schneier even talks about the importance of law breaking in changing stupid laws - with reference to LGBTI rights, marijuana legalisation etc. Even if we could assume that surveillance was only used to enforce perfect compliance with the law, this would stunt our growth as a society, our capacity to adjust and develop.
But even scarier is the trade and exploitation of personal data to interested stakeholders. So, if you make baby formula and you want a list of potential customers, you would pay handsomely for a list of low-income working pregnant women who lack any maternity leave, for example - a key target market. Or maybe a list of "gullible seniors" for legal scam artists? (This exists, and someone was actually prosecuted for selling it, based on browser data obtained legally). Or maybe you want to sell your 16-airbag, bulletproof six-figure car to people who lost loved ones in car accidents?
Schneier's scariest content for me was the swirl of data between commercial exploiters and the government - on the one hand, the NSA could be assumed to have free rein access to Google and Apple metadata - pretty much everything moving through smart phones from GPS to email to your candy crush habit - and on the other, governments sell data to raise cash. Incredibly, the British NHS is contemplating the sale of Brit's medical data, providing a rich resource for all those wanting to identify the sick and vulnerable to sell them things.
Of course, it is at the point that the pull is joined by a push, that we need to be aware of the power of Google et al. What would happen, asks Schneier, if Google suddenly decided only to show "enrol to vote" ads to Democrat voters? Statistically, that may be enough to swing an election. Or, as one real estate search service *did* do, show property ads only for neighborhoods of predominately the same race as the searcher? Or show firearms ads to suicidal people of a particular political, ethnic or cultural group? Or display reproductive services ads only to women from certain demographics?
Because I read neurosciencey stuff as well, one of the synergies which most hit me here was research that shows how influenced we are by the sequencing of information. So women who are reminded that men score better than women on math tests, will do worse in the test than those who weren't. Police who have just heard about a black man shooting a cop are more likely to shoot unarmed black men. What we see online, when we see it, and what follows on from that changes the way we react to situations around us. The power inherent in our mobile phones, our search engines, and our government databases is immense.
The question is, how do we define what we want to do with this technology? The kind of people we want to be?
And, finally, do we really want a world where our lives are totally transparent to those with power, but the workings of that power - the warrants, the algorithms, the extent of the surveillance - are as obscure as blackout curtains. Whose world is this anyway?
Bruce Schneier covers all the bases, weaving together countless news stories and recent revelations to give us the big-picture view on data and its uses in our times. Pulled together in one place, Schneier illustrates the urgency of finding reasonable solutions to these hidden trade-offs that we’ve largely accepted because we never had much of a choice. And refreshingly, he offers his set of solutions and next steps.
Schneier's solutions—like “incent new business models” for corporations that run on data (which I agree — offer broad strokes, but lack practicalities of exactly *how* to do that. Also, Schneier does not present a concise definition of surveillance. He shows how the same data can be used for improving systems as can be used to monitor and track users to control or coerce them. But to me, it is important to unpack some dissection of *intent* in the use of that same data. A clearer definition of surveillance, to what ends, seems necessary.
This book is timely, and one of the first to lay down the stakes of our data-driven society. It is a must read for anyone with an interest and sense of the importance of our data-society: citizen, consumer, government employee, marketer, tech company, and so on.
Disclosure: Bruce is a friend and colleague at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and I had the honor to read and comment on drafts of the book in various forms.