They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy

They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy

by Robert Scheer
     
 

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In the first week of June 2013, the American people discovered that for a decade, they had abjectly traded their individual privacy for the chimera of national security. The revelation that the federal government has full access to all phone records and the vast trove of presumably private personal data posted on the Internet has brought the threat of a… See more details below

Overview


In the first week of June 2013, the American people discovered that for a decade, they had abjectly traded their individual privacy for the chimera of national security. The revelation that the federal government has full access to all phone records and the vast trove of presumably private personal data posted on the Internet has brought the threat of a surveillance society to the fore.

But the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Big business has long played a leading role in the hollowing out of personal freedoms. In this new book, Robert Scheer shows how our most intimate habits, from private correspondence, book pages read, and lists of friends and phone conversations have been seamlessly combined in order to create a detailed map of an individual’s social and biological DNA.

From wiretapping to lax social media security, from domestic spy drones to sophisticated biometrics, both the United States government and private corporate interests have dangerously undermined the delicate balance between national security and individual sovereignty. Without privacy, Scheer argues, there is neither freedom nor democracy. The freedom to be left alone embodies the most basic of human rights. Yet this freedom has been squandered in the name of national security and consumer convenience.

The information revolution has exposed much of the world’s population to a boundless world of universally shared information. But it has also stripped both passive and active participants of their every shred of privacy in ways most don’t comprehend. No authoritarian regime ever could have hoped to gain the power to control the power and aspirations of their subjects that today's off-the-shelf information technology already provides. The technology of surveillance, Scheer warns, represents an existential threat to the liberation of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/19/2015
Even readers familiar with Edward Snowden’s revelations about the scope of the NSA’s gathering of personal information will find that Scheer (The Great American Stickup) powerfully connects the dots of our chilling Orwellian present, one in which privacy is considered a luxury, rather than a right. Scheer limns how in the aftermath of 9/11, “Congress was desperate to be seen throwing money at anything to do with antiterrorism,” which resulted in budget increases for NSA programs—easing the way for ever-more intrusive government surveillance of U.S. citizens suspected of no crime. That development was facilitated by the rising popularity of websites that encouraged people to surrender more and more privacy to “enhance the consumer experience,” giving data to private companies who then shared it with the government. Perhaps the most disturbing section is a scathing look at Facebook’s 2012 experiment to manipulate users’ moods by skewing content to present mostly positive or mostly negative words. Scheer also notes that reliance on megadata has not served the U.S. defense policy well. He ends with a collective call to action and his argument for what’s at stake with the technology of surveillance is starkly clear. Agent: Ronald Goldfarb, Goldfarb & Associates. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"Scheer acquits himself as a passionate advocate for privacy rights; you'd want him by your side at a protest." Los Angeles Times

"...Scheer powerfully connects the dots of our chilling Orwellian present, one in which privacy is considered a luxury, rather than a right." Publishers Weekly

"A vital piece of work that demands attention." Kirkus Reviews

“Robert Scheer reminds us that privacy is everything—the protector of our liberty, the guarantor of our personal autonomy, the fountainhead of our democracy—and yet it’s disappearing faster than an electronic blip moving at warp speed from your computer to the NSA. With clarity and precision, Scheer dissects the military-intelligence complex, showing it to be neither very secure nor very intelligent, but, rather, dangerous to us all.” —Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

They Know Everything About You is a brilliant book. Robert Scheer, who covered my 1971 trial after I released the Pentagon Papers, has been following privacy and surveillance issues for decades. He is a key voice and his book— cogent, timely, and fascinating—is an indispensable text for our time.” —Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“Robert Scheer has undertaken a penetrating examination of Americans’ disappearing privacy and issued a clarion call in these pages, lest we unwittingly click-away our freedom.” —John W. Dean, bestselling author and former Nixon White House counsel

“Scheer is one of the most important journalists in America. He is not only brilliant, possessed by a fierce and uncompromising integrity, but is a lyrical and often moving writer. All of these talents are on full display in his latest book about the rise of the security and surveillance state and the terrifying dystopia that will be visited upon us all unless our right to privacy is returned to us.” —Chris Hedges, fellow at The Nation Institute and coauthor of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

“This is what journalism looks like, provided by one of the greatest reporters of our times. Scheer has written a powerful indictment of the present-day corporate-government surveillance regime that has effectively eliminated the right to privacy. Like a master surgeon, he dissects the self-serving rationales for the wholesale illegal spying on Americans and shows them to be nonsense.” —Robert W. McChesney, author of Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century

Library Journal
03/01/2015
Scheer (journalism, Univ. of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; editor-in-chief, Truthdig; Playing President) analyzes the complicity among corporations and government agencies in the mass online data collection of United States citizens, holding up for particular analysis the implications of the Edward Snowden revelations, and those whistleblowers who were unsuccessful in bringing to light privacy-invasive data collection and storage. Taking as the departure point the notion of the military-industrial complex, Scheer reinterprets this military complex to now encompass Silicon Valley, with the government using corporations' vast stores of private data about nearly everyone online to bring a new kind of military strength to the surveillance of private citizens. VERDICT This work will be suitable for readers interested in security and privacy in the digital era. A timely and accessible account for those who are concerned with the democratic implications of mass Internet surveillance in the United States.—Jim Hahn, Univ. Lib., Univ. of Illinois, Urbana
Kirkus Reviews
2014-12-21
Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Scheer (Communication and Journalism/Univ. of Southern California; The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street, 2010, etc.) examines how online convenience has supplanted bedrock American values of personal freedom and the right to privacy.Have Americans really surrendered liberties for the "freedom" of bypassing the mall and doing their shopping online? Certainly, but as the author discusses at length, the Internet has also given rise to the most perfect surveillance apparatus ever created. For years, Facebook, Google, Amazon and other businesses and organizations have amassed unprecedented amounts of data on anyone who does anything on the Internet. As long as all that personal information was being used to more effectively push products and gizmos on consumers, most everyone over the last 15 years or so just seemed to shrug and keep on surfing. Of course, hawking goods online was never that innocuous—not when the endgame was to not only satisfy desires, but to invent and manufacture them as well. When the Pentagon and the rest of the "Military-Intelligence Complex" started to fiendishly exploit the Web in ever crafty new ways, people finally began to pay more attention and question whether we were entering a scenario initially conceived by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and other prescient writers. "Disturbingly," writes the author, "some of the research [the Pentagon] commissioned seemed to be aimed at understanding how to control or prevent public dissent inside the United States through surveillance and manipulation of information flows, like those curated by social networks." The online giants might have tried to divorce themselves from overreaching government spooks, but Scheer provides more than enough solid journalism to show that the digital dirt is knee-deep and getting deeper. A vital piece of work that demands attention.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568584522
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
02/24/2015
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
207,579
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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