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Data and Goliath

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Data and Goliath

The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

W.W. Norton,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Corporations and governments are watching you. It’s time to fight back.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


If you send an email, use a search engine or like a Facebook page, you are under surveillance. Companies gather information to target you with advertising and the US National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on virtually every American. In this discerning, well-researched work, security guru Bruce Schneier shows why the NSA’s post-September 11, 2001, surveillance doesn’t make the world safer and he covers why marketers work to harvest your data. He crystallizes these issues with powerful examples as he argues for reform. To stem the erosion of privacy, Schneier recommends solutions, which, he concedes, the pace of technological change may soon make obsolete. While politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Schneier’s informed overview to policy makers, privacy specialists and anyone looking to curb the excesses of the surveillance age.


Surveillance on the Rise

Someone watches you every day – whenever you send an email or text, use a search engine, post to a social network, or buy online. Your smartphone tracks your movements. Walk down a city street or get cash from an ATM, and video cameras capture what you’re doing.

Technology is converting more and more everyday objects into data-collecting tools. Your phone, your car, your thermostat, your camera and your fitness-tracking device are all computers. The coming Internet of Things will put computers in your refrigerator, oven and toothbrush. They’ll all generate data about you.

Surveillance has become a standard feature of the Internet because you demand the convenience of doing a Google search on your phone, asking Apple’s Siri for directions to a bar or checking Waze to gauge rush-hour traffic. All these applications work best when they know a lot about you. Most apps come with privacy policies filled with legalese. People often accept these apps without reading their policies or considering that their usage means surrendering privacy.

The United States keeps people under surveillance largely through the National Security Agency (NSA...

About the Author

Bruce Schneier, a fellow at the Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is the author of 13 books. He writes an influential newsletter and blog on information security.

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    P. M. 8 years ago
    Liked the summary so much, I bought the book. Mr. Schneier does an excellent job of blending together the information technology world we face, and how it relates to privacy, and also why privacy is important. This book should be required reading for anyone involved in technology policy in government.
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    K. E. 8 years ago
    This summary offered an excellent, and chilling glimpse at the depth and ramifications that come from collection of our data - be that Facebook likes, or NSA monitoring your phone calls. It provides insight into what's at stake, and what you can do to protect yourself. It very much makes me want to explore the book, and the ideas, a lot further.