PRIVACY, AND HOW TO GET IT BACK
B. J. MENDELSON
£8 / $10
Some governments around the world are great at protecting their citizens’ private information and, thus, their privacy. Others, like the US government, are by all measures awful at doing so. Some of this is intentional. Some of it is not. Sometimes the law simply can’t keep up with the pace of innovation. Some of this is the direct result of tech companies spending exorbitant amounts of money on lobbying. But all that is dwarfed in scale by what is by far most blatant breach of privacy: the one we inflict on ourselves and exact on others.
What makes this story more compelling than others on the same topic is that it doesn’t ring the same old tune of how governments spy on their citizens; it takes that for granted. What it does, however, is expose the degree to which private interests on both ends of the production/consumption spectrum, i.e. both consumers (us) and providers (the media companies we use everyday) have the same thing in common: a blatant disregard for privacy. Both we, through our everyday voracious posting and sharing and eavesdropping and gossiping, and the companies that provide the platforms we use seem to have silently conceded that our own, and others’, right to privacy is for sale. This is the burning issue discussed in the pages of this book.
–from the book’s introductory chapter
In this forceful book, technology guru and author of the best-selling Social Media is Bullshit (St. Martins Press) Brandon Mendelson exposes the crude reality behind the smiley face of internet networking: data trading. We are all auctioning our personal information, the book argues, to the highest bidder. Mendelson discusses the end of privacy from a contemporary perspective, including chapters on:
Metadata and its uses
The Internet of Things
The use of social media for surveillance and suppression
Just how safe is Cloud technology
The Big Business of Big Data
How online retailers stalk, without permission, their customers
Anonymous and web activism
The internet’s dark side: Silk Road, hacking, extortion
EFF and other bodies promoting internet user rights
When we talk about the so-called ‘end of privacy’, we conjure up images of state-run agencies secretly monitoring and recording our every move. Whilst this is the case, the true perpetrator in this permeating culture of intrusion is not a third party; its our very selves. We willingly broadcast every moment of our lives in exchange for a moment’s worth of virtual attention. Mendelson, artfully and through personal narratives and journalism, tells the story of how we have undermined one of our greatest societal assets.