Big Brother: a tale of two books on privacy in a digital world

Recently I’ve been reading a few similar books on the risks and realities posed by our ever increasing digital world and thought that they might be worth a mention here. Both are depressing, scary and excellent reads with a lot of research put into them.

The first is Data and Goliath by security researcher Bruce Schneier.

Data and Goliath
The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

From the book’s description:

You are under surveillance right now.

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 shows us exactly what we can do to reform our government surveillance programs and shake up surveillance-based business models, while also providing tips for you to protect your privacy every day. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.

The second book is written by ex-police, FBI and Interpol advisor Marc Goodman and is called Future Crimes.

Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for Our Connected World

From the book’s description:

Technological advances have benefited our world in immeasurable ways, but there is an ominous flip side: our technology can be turned against us. And just over the horizon is a tidal wave of scientific progress that will leave our heads spinning—from implantable medical devices to drones and 3-D printers, all of which can be hacked, with disastrous consequences.

With explosive insights based on a career in law enforcement and counterterrorism, leading authority on global security Marc Goodman takes readers on a vivid journey through the darkest recesses of the Internet. He explores how bad actors are primed to hijack the technologies of tomorrow. Provocative, thrilling, and ultimately empowering, Future Crimes will serve as an urgent call to action that shows how we can take back control of our own devices and harness technology’s tremendous power for the betterment of humanity—before it’s too late.

While both books are worth your time, if the subject matter interests you at all, the main difference between the two is that Schneier’s book tends to be a bit more in-depth and academic, while Goodman’s book is really just a series of anecdotes and stories about technological abuse. One thing is for sure: both books will have you thinking about and re-evaluating your daily digital conveniences!

If you’re interested in picking up either of these you can find the Amazon links below:

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