Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest

Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest

by Finn Brunton, Helen Nissenbaum

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Overview

How we can evade, protest, and sabotage today's pervasive digital surveillance by deploying more data, not less—and why we should.

With Obfuscation, Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum mean to start a revolution. They are calling us not to the barricades but to our computers, offering us ways to fight today's pervasive digital surveillance—the collection of our data by governments, corporations, advertisers, and hackers. To the toolkit of privacy protecting techniques and projects, they propose adding obfuscation: the deliberate use of ambiguous, confusing, or misleading information to interfere with surveillance and data collection projects. Brunton and Nissenbaum provide tools and a rationale for evasion, noncompliance, refusal, even sabotage—especially for average users, those of us not in a position to opt out or exert control over data about ourselves. Obfuscation will teach users to push back, software developers to keep their user data safe, and policy makers to gather data without misusing it.

Brunton and Nissenbaum present a guide to the forms and formats that obfuscation has taken and explain how to craft its implementation to suit the goal and the adversary. They describe a series of historical and contemporary examples, including radar chaff deployed by World War II pilots, Twitter bots that hobbled the social media strategy of popular protest movements, and software that can camouflage users' search queries and stymie online advertising. They go on to consider obfuscation in more general terms, discussing why obfuscation is necessary, whether it is justified, how it works, and how it can be integrated with other privacy practices and technologies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262029735
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 09/04/2015
Series: The MIT Press
Pages: 136
Sales rank: 646,469
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Finn Brunton is Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT Press).

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication and Computer Science at New York University, where she is Director of the Information Law Institute.

What People are Saying About This

Lorrie Faith Cranor

Obfuscation is an intelligently written handbook for subversives. I found the historical examples fascinating and the ethical discussion thought-provoking.

Ross Anderson

This book presents a fascinating collection of examples of decoys, camouflage, and information hiding from the human and animal worlds, with a discussion of how such techniques can be used in applications from privacy online through search optimization to propaganda and deception. It leads to discussion of informational justice, and the extent to which camouflage can perhaps help people hide in plain sight online.

danah boyd

By mapping out obfuscation tools, practices, and goals, Brunton and Nissenbaum provide a valuable framework for understanding how people seek to achieve privacy and control in a data-soaked world. This important book is essential for anyone trying to understand why people resist and challenge tech norms, including policymakers, engineers, and users of technology

From the Publisher

By mapping out obfuscation tools, practices, and goals, Brunton and Nissenbaum provide a valuable framework for understanding how people seek to achieve privacy and control in a data-soaked world. This important book is essential for anyone trying to understand why people resist and challenge tech norms, including policymakers, engineers, and users of technology

danah boyd, author of It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens and founder of Data & Society

Obfuscation is an intelligently written handbook for subversives. I found the historical examples fascinating and the ethical discussion thought-provoking.

Lorrie Faith Cranor, Director, CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University

This book presents a fascinating collection of examples of decoys, camouflage, and information hiding from the human and animal worlds, with a discussion of how such techniques can be used in applications from privacy online through search optimization to propaganda and deception. It leads to discussion of informational justice, and the extent to which camouflage can perhaps help people hide in plain sight online.

Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Endorsement

This book presents a fascinating collection of examples of decoys, camouflage, and information hiding from the human and animal worlds, with a discussion of how such techniques can be used in applications from privacy online through search optimization to propaganda and deception. It leads to discussion of informational justice, and the extent to which camouflage can perhaps help people hide in plain sight online.

Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Customer Reviews