Tin-foil hat - looking for books on surveillance society and the loss of privacy
August 30, 2006 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I've spent the last couple of weeks reading Everyware: The Dawning age Of ubiquitous computing, 1984 and Brave New World and now I'm in full-on tin-hat mode.

What I'm after now is recommendations for books on government and surveillance, privacy and the loss off and so forth. Looking on Amazon, most of the books seem to have been written in 2000/2001, but I'd much prefer more up-to-date books as so much has happened in the intervening years. Bonus points if the books have a UK-slant. What's worth reading to make me further want to live in a cave, poke out my eyes and cut off my finger prints?
posted by TheDonF to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Transparent Society by David Brin. It's 1999, so not up-to-date in the way you are asking, but is quite relevant.
posted by Nelson at 2:28 PM on August 30, 2006

No Place to Hide (2006):

The amount of personal data collected on ordinary citizens has grown steadily over the decades, and after 9/11, corporations that had been amassing this information largely for marketing purposes saw an opportunity to strengthen their ties with the government. But what do we really know about these data collectors, and are they trustworthy? O'Harrow, a Pulitzer finalist who covers privacy and technology issues for the Washington Post, tracks the explosive growth of this surveillance industry, with keen attention to the problems that "inevitable mistakes" along the way have created in mainstream society, from victims of identity theft who have been placed in financial jeopardy to travelers detained at the airport because of the similarity of their names to those of criminal suspects. O'Harrow gives the government's push for increased surveillance heavy play, but he effectively presents the story's many sides, as when he juxtaposes the perspectives of a Justice Department attorney, a civil liberties activist and Senator Patrick Leahy in the first chapter. His evenhanded account underscores the caveats of surveillance, as well-intentioned people can deploy technologies for all the right reasons only to see their apparatuses misused later on. This is a thought-provoking, comprehensive account that strikes the right balance between dismissive and alarmist.
posted by Gyan at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2006

Ey, stay on the train and go straight anarcho-primativist. Check out Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections. It has everything from the Unibomber Manifesto to Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

I'd also recommend finding out who in your area sells zines of that flavor. They're like proto-blogs, only they actually tend to be interesting on several levels. Don't expect academic type writing... it's more fiery and passionate and makes you feel less alone for wanting to live in a cave. Ask these guys if you need recommendations.

Ohh, and some people have decided to live in caves... well, the forest anyways.
posted by trinarian at 4:06 PM on August 30, 2006

Feed is an excellent young adult novel that envisions a world where datamining and capitalism have gotten out of control. It's an easy read and enjoyable, although somewhat disturbing.

Also, another account of someone who unplugged.
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 6:51 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

A good book on how to preserve what's left is How to Be Invisible: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Personal Privacy, Your Assets, and Your Life by J.J. Luna. Make sure you get the last post-9/11 revised edition. I can't recommend it highly enough. Also, Luna has a great updates page that follows practical privacy. He answers readers questions, etc. It's updated almost daily. I hired a privacy consultant from PrivacyNation.com that helped me with computer and real-world privacy issues. It was handled all through email and the phone. I think it cost me $150 or so. They had done some work at my company and I asked about their individual plans. I was impressed with what all they came up with for me. It's good to see you, and many others, finally getting interested in these issues. To me, privacy=freedom.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 7:15 PM on August 30, 2006

I don't know if you're aware, but Everyware was written by our very own adamgreenfield. You could try asking him directly!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:44 PM on August 30, 2006

Wow, I didn't know he was a Mefite. Well, Adam, if you're reading this post: excellent book that has given me loads to think about; jaw-droppingly "woah" in both the "coooooool" and also the "ugh, that sounds scary" camps.
posted by TheDonF at 12:16 AM on August 31, 2006

It's back from 2001, but you might want Database Nation : The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century by Simson Garfinkel?
posted by fings at 9:00 AM on August 31, 2006

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