Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World. By Bruce Schneier.W.W. Norton; 383 pages; $27.95 and £17.99.
SOCIETY has more digital information than ever and can do new things with it. Google can identify flu outbreaks using search queries; America’s National Security Agency (NSA) aspires to do the same to find terrorists. But at the same time people are under constant surveillance by companies and governments, since the rules protecting privacy are hopelessly out of date.
In “Data and Goliath” Bruce Schneier, a computer-security expert, does a fine job of laying out the problems caused by this compulsive collection of personal data, and suggests some steps that would help protect society from the most egregious excesses. The challenges are severe because modern technologies collect large amounts of information on the most innocuous of activities, which formerly left no data trace.
In business, personal information has become a sort of raw material. Many smartphone apps can afford to be free because the companies that develop them sell the users’ personal data, something barely explained in the terms and conditions. If the service is free, then you’re the product, goes an old saw in Silicon Valley.
Yet people do not need to disclose their details directly. Such information can also be inferred from patterns of behaviour and social networks, and the many harms that this can cause go beyond creepiness. It can mean higher online shopping prices if algorithms predict that an individual may pay them, and even racial discrimination if algorithms profile a person, by noting postcodes or answers to questions that are imperfectly tied to race. With few rules and little transparency, worse is possible.
Mr Schneier is at his best when writing about government surveillance, though. He appreciates the need for it—indeed, he notes that in state-to-state relations, knowing what the other side thinks actually enhances stability. But the book prefers to focus on the spooky abilities, and lapses in control, of American intelligence agencies. Mr Schneier knows these well, having helped to explain to the Guardian the technical language in the classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.
Mr Schneier sees worrisome changes to the way surveillance has been conducted since the attacks of September 11th 2001. First, the modern security threat comes more from groups and individuals rather than states, so the surveillance target is the public, not governments. Second, the fact that different people’s internet traffic travels along the same wires means that tapping one person entails collecting data from others at the same time. Third, advances in technology render obsolete many of the assumptions that have underpinned the rules governing surveillance.
The result is a dragnet that ensnares almost everyone, rather than a few targeted individuals. “Data and Goliath” makes a convincing case that America’s intelligence community has unprecedented powers that, if unchecked, undermine a free society. The right to peaceful assembly, for example, comes into question when a person’s mobile phone allows them to be tracked with almost no legal safeguards.
Geek wizardry is only part of the story of the NSA’s capabilities. Other activities are more alarming. The agency can record the phone calls of an entire nation, as it has done in Afghanistan, according to NSA files. It can collect call data associated with every mobile phone in America. “Is this legal?” asks Mr Schneier. “The real answer is we don’t know.”
The book paints a bleak picture in which the state spies on anti-war protesters and Muslim-Americans who pose no threat to national security; the NSA misleads the court that is meant to oversee it; the court largely turns a blind eye to the agency’s activities; and Congress is left largely in the dark. The NSA chooses what it discloses, and any relevant documents can only be reviewed in a dedicated room and not removed. Considering the loose controls, it actually says a lot about the integrity of America’s spies that more abuses have not occurred.
Mr Schneier is an effective explainer of the main legal instruments authorising American surveillance—and their shortcomings. One of the most important is the so-called “third-party doctrine” from the 1970s, which gives spies easy access to data a person has handed over voluntarily. At the time, this referred to records such as those held by phone companies. But in the modern world it has come to mean that e-mails and online documents have little legal protection against surveillance.
Mr Schneier does a good job of analysing the problems, but his solutions do contain some duds. To guard against the commercial exploitation of data, he usefully calls for a new class of “information fiduciaries” to act as intermediaries between people and the companies that seek to use their data. But he also argues for stronger rules to prevent companies from collecting so much data in the first place; this would quite likely curtail unanticipated but valuable uses, like the Google Flu Trends programme.
Likewise, he rightly argues for better oversight and protection of whistle-blowers as a way of helping restrain government power. But his recommendation to “break up the NSA” is idealistic. Distributing surveillance authority to numerous agencies would indeed prevent an unhealthy concentration of power. But the specialised skills and huge resources required to perform surveillance well call for centralising responsibility. Reforms are probably better aimed at bringing muscular legal oversight to the existing system than at hoping to change it altogether.
Some recent books on digital privacy have been written by journalists, with an emphasis on sugary narrative instead of original analysis. This one comes from a practitioner, and offers a deep but accessible look at surveillance in the post-Snowden, big-data era.
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Home » Subject » Essay » Impact of the Internet on our Daily Life
Impact of the Internet on our Daily Life, Pros and Cons.
There is a big influence of technique on our daily life. Electronic devices, multimedia and computers are things we have to deal with every day. Especially the Internet is becoming more and more important for nearly everybody as it is one of the newest and most forward-looking media and surely "the" medium of the future. Therefore it is necessary to think about some good and bad aspects of how this medium influences us. The Internet changed our life enormously; there is no doubt about that. There are many advantages of the Internet that show you the importance of this new medium. What I want to say is that Internet changed our life in a positive way.
Life has become drastically smooth and easy over the internet, while in the previous year's seeking for a job required several visits to the offices and companies and interviews, these days all what is required is you detailed resume emailed to the company's analysis division which assures you of any possibilities for getting the job instead of waiting and getting rejected in the end. Internet is useful in online shopping, so that we can save our time by not going outside and find that particular thing. For, the entrepreneur this is the biggest platform to connect with people.
The internet brings an innovative impression on trade and commerce and is widely used by businesses worldwide. It offers an instantaneous and direct communication by the use of e-mail, instant messaging, video call and the World Wide Web pages. It remains to develop, compelled by countless quantities of online informative data and knowledge in business, amusement and social networking. It is an awesome device commonly used by students on their homework, assignments and projects. It is also an excellent source of information for research paper and studies. The internet has made searching for informative data much faster and easier to be done. Yet, another harmful effects that anyone may face while browsing the net is the chance to grasp unreliable info and data from unaccredited sources. As websites rapidly springs out in the net, so is the amount of time consumed every time we start using it. The internet has become an office that stocks an enormous time investment and occasionally its one source of an incredible waste of time. Due to the accessibility of info available on the web, anyone can access any files without any restriction and guidelines to what it is. Businesses, for example, often times use online cloud storage that is securely protected and can be remotely accessed with appropriate security measures. Users can easily browse pornographic images and videos in which can affect someone's behaviour and can deteriorate morale of the society in the long run.
Any piece of information regarding anything, everything in our daily lives, may it be a cosmetic technique for the ladies or the men health problems, the cooking recipes for trying the new dishes or the home decoration tips, the information on the latest appliance or product you are going to buy or the search for the new house, it is all there ready for you on the internet.
Evidently, users of internet are exceedingly growing and continue to rise as changes occur every now and then. The most interesting aspect of the internet influencing our daily lives is the factor of entertainment. Entertainment no longer demands your money or expense, today you can just log on the internet in your free time and get involved talking to people of similar interests, or watch movies or play games, it's all there in the internet. Despite the fact that the internet claim for its countless benefits, it is undeniable that it also possess adverse danger to its users.
Because of the so many opportunities on the internet it is also said to have become an addiction for some people, which makes them more lazy and inconsistent in much more important works in life.
At last, I just want to conclude that everything have two aspects, in what way we utilize our source is important. Internet is very useful asset; we should use it in positive way so that it will be useful in our enhancing the quality of our lives.