15 Best Books on Surveillance

Best Books on SurveillanceF

acebook never truly stood up for privacy. Neither did Google, Twitter, or other social media companies. The only true promise they made was for people to use their service “responsibly,” yet their business model is heavily reliant on gathering as much information about people as they can and sharing it with whoever pays for it. Their marketing machines now consider their own data marketing, not only for targeted advertisements, but for the mass harvesting of people’s personal data. Their business models depend on businesses paying for the services they provide.

Best Books on Surveillance: THE LIST

1. World Without Mind
2. The Good Drone
3. The Art of Invisibility
4. Data and Goliath
5. What Stays in Vegas
6. No Place to Hide
7. Permanent Record
8. Dark Matters
9. Surveillance Zone
10. Surveillance Valley
11. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
12. Dark Mirror
13. The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery And Deception
14. Cyber Privacy
15. The Real Guide to Surveillance

1. World Without Mind | By Franklin Foer

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Franklin Foer reveals the existential threat posed by big tech, and in his brilliant polemic gives us the toolkit to fight their pervasive influence.

Over the past few decades there has been a revolution in terms of who controls knowledge and information. This rapid change has imperiled the way we think. Without pausing to consider the cost, the world has rushed to embrace the products and services of four titanic corporations. We shop with Amazon; socialize on Facebook; turn to Apple for entertainment; and rely on Google for information. These firms sell their efficiency and purport to make the world a better place, but what they have done instead is to enable an intoxicating level of daily convenience. As these companies have expanded, marketing themselves as champions of individuality and pluralism, their algorithms have pressed us into conformity and laid waste to privacy. They have produced an unstable and narrow culture of misinformation, and put us on a path to a world without private contemplation, autonomous thought, or solitary introspection—a world without mind. In order to restore our inner lives, we must avoid being coopted by these gigantic companies, and understand the ideas that underpin their success. 
 
Elegantly tracing the intellectual history of computer science—from Descartes and the enlightenment to Alan Turing to Stewart Brand and the hippie origins of today’s Silicon Valley—Foer exposes the dark underpinnings of our most idealistic dreams for technology. The corporate ambitions of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, he argues, are trampling longstanding liberal values, especially intellectual property and privacy. This is a nascent stage in the total automation and homogenization of social, political, and intellectual life. By reclaiming our private authority over how we intellectually engage with the world, we have the power to stem the tide.

At stake is nothing less than who we are, and what we will become. There have been monopolists in the past but today’s corporate giants have far more nefarious aims. They’re monopolists who want access to every facet of our identities and influence over every corner of our decision-making. Until now few have grasped the sheer scale of the threat. Foer explains not just the looming existential crisis but the imperative of resistance. 

2. The Good Drone | By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

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How small-scale drones, satellites, kites, and balloons are used by social movements for the greater good.

Drones are famous for doing bad things: weaponized, they implement remote-control war; used for surveillance, they threaten civil liberties and violate privacy. In The Good Drone, Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick examines a different range of uses: the deployment of drones for the greater good. Choi-Fitzpatrick analyzes the way small-scale drones—as well as satellites, kites, and balloons—are used for a great many things, including documenting human rights abuses, estimating demonstration crowd size, supporting anti-poaching advocacy, and advancing climate change research. In fact, he finds, small drones are used disproportionately for good; nonviolent prosocial uses predominate.

Choi-Fitzpatrick’s broader point is that the use of technology by social movements goes beyond social media—and began before social media. From the barricades in Les Misérables to hacking attacks on corporate servers to the spread of the #MeToo hashtag on Twitter, technology is used to raise awareness, but is also crucial in raising the cost of the status quo.

New technology in the air changes politics on the ground, and raises provocative questions along the way. What is the nature and future of the camera, when it is taken out of human hands? How will our ideas about privacy evolve when the altitude of a penthouse suite no longer guarantees it? Working at the leading edge of an emerging technology, Choi-Fitzpatrick takes a broad view, suggesting social change efforts rely on technology in new and unexpected ways.

3. The Art of Invisibility | By Kevin Mitnick

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Be online without leaving a trace. Your every step online is being tracked and stored, and your identity literally stolen. Big companies and big governments want to know and exploit what you do, and privacy is a luxury few can afford or understand.

In this explosive yet practical book, Kevin Mitnick uses true-life stories to show exactly what is happening without your knowledge, teaching you “the art of invisibility” — online and real-world tactics to protect you and your family, using easy step-by-step instructions.

Reading this book, you will learn everything from password protection and smart Wi-Fi usage to advanced techniques designed to maximize your anonymity. Kevin Mitnick knows exactly how vulnerabilities can be exploited and just what to do to prevent that from happening.

The world’s most famous — and formerly the US government’s most wanted — computer hacker, he has hacked into some of the country’s most powerful and seemingly impenetrable agencies and companies, and at one point was on a three-year run from the FBI. Now Mitnick is reformed and widely regarded as the expert on the subject of computer security. Invisibility isn’t just for superheroes; privacy is a power you deserve and need in the age of Big Brother and Big Data.

4. Data and Goliath | By Bruce Schneier

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Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who’s with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you’re unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose your intimate and casual friends. Google knows what you’re thinking because it saves your private searches. Facebook can determine your sexual orientation without you ever mentioning it.

The powers that surveil us do more than simply store this information. Corporations use surveillance to manipulate not only the news articles and advertisements we each see, but also the prices we’re offered. Governments use surveillance to discriminate, censor, chill free speech, and put people in danger worldwide. And both sides share this information with each other or, even worse, lose it to cybercriminals in huge data breaches.

Much of this is voluntary: we cooperate with corporate surveillance because it promises us convenience, and we submit to government surveillance because it promises us protection. The result is a mass surveillance society of our own making. But have we given up more than we’ve gained? In Data and Goliath, security expert Bruce Schneier offers another path, one that values both security and privacy. He brings his bestseller up-to-date with a new preface covering the latest developments, and then shows us exactly what we can do to reform government surveillance programs, shake up surveillance-based business models, and protect our individual privacy. You’ll never look at your phone, your computer, your credit cards, or even your car in the same way again.

5. What Stays in Vegas | By Adam Tanner

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The greatest threat to privacy today is not the NSA, but good-old American companies. Internet giants, leading retailers, and other firms are voraciously gathering data with little oversight from anyone.

In Las Vegas, no company knows the value of data better than Caesars Entertainment. Many thousands of enthusiastic clients pour through the ever-open doors of their casinos. The secret to the company’s success lies in their one unrivaled asset: they know their clients intimately by tracking the activities of the overwhelming majority of gamblers. They know exactly what games they like to play, what foods they enjoy for breakfast, when they prefer to visit, who their favorite hostess might be, and exactly how to keep them coming back for more.

Caesars’ dogged data-gathering methods have been so successful that they have grown to become the world’s largest casino operator, and have inspired companies of all kinds to ramp up their own data mining in the hopes of boosting their targeted marketing efforts. Some do this themselves. Some rely on data brokers. Others clearly enter a moral gray zone that should make American consumers deeply uncomfortable.

We live in an age when our personal information is harvested and aggregated whether we like it or not. And it is growing ever more difficult for those businesses that choose not to engage in more intrusive data gathering to compete with those that do. Tanner’s timely warning resounds: Yes, there are many benefits to the free flow of all this data, but there is a dark, unregulated, and destructive netherworld as well.

6. No Place to Hide | By Glenn Greenwald

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In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.

Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens―and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.

7. Permanent Record | By Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden, the man who risked everything to expose the US government’s system of mass surveillance, reveals for the first time the story of his life, including how he helped to build that system and what motivated him to try to bring it down.

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.

Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online―a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.

8. Dark Matters | By Simone Brown

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In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws. Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as the methods of surveilling blackness she discusses: from the design of the eighteenth-century slave ship Brooks, Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, and The Book of Negroes, to contemporary art, literature, biometrics, and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines, so much so that the surveillance of blackness has long been, and continues to be, a social and political norm.

9. Surveillance Zone | By Ami Toben

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Surveillance Zone gives you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into a mysterious world that very few people know exists. It’s the world of private-sector espionage, surveillance detection and covert protective operations that take place right here at home, under most people’s noses. In these pages, you’ll discover: How corporate sector surveillance and surveillance detection work. What real-world special operations are like How covert operators blend into different environments. What type of people get into this industry Why this industry exists. Get a first-person account of actual covert operations the author has participated in. Learn the secrets of the trade, and discover a hidden world that’s all around you.

10. Surveillance Valley | By Yasha Levine

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In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon counterinsurgency surveillance project.

A visionary intelligence officer, William Godel, realized that the key to winning the war in Vietnam was not outgunning the enemy, but using new information technology to understand their motives and anticipate their movements. This idea — using computers to spy on people and groups perceived as a threat, both at home and abroad — drove ARPA to develop the internet in the 1960s, and continues to be at the heart of the modern internet we all know and use today. As Levine shows, surveillance wasn’t something that suddenly appeared on the internet; it was woven into the fabric of the technology.

But this isn’t just a story about the NSA or other domestic programs run by the government. As the book spins forward in time, Levine examines the private surveillance business that powers tech-industry giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, revealing how these companies spy on their users for profit, all while doing double duty as military and intelligence contractors. Levine shows that the military and Silicon Valley are effectively inseparable: a military-digital complex that permeates everything connected to the internet, even coopting and weaponizing the antigovernment privacy movement that sprang up in the wake of Edward Snowden.

11. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism | By Shoshana Zuboff

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The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called “surveillance capitalism,” and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior.

In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth.

Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new “behavioral futures markets,” where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new “means of behavioral modification.”

The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a “Big Other” operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff’s comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled “hive” of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit — at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future.

With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future — if we let it.

12. Dark Mirror | By Barton Gellman

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Edward Snowden touched off a global debate in 2013 when he gave Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald each a vast and explosive archive of highly classified files revealing the extent of the American government’s access to our every communication. They shared the Pulitzer Prize that year for public service. For Gellman, who never stopped reporting, that was only the beginning.  He jumped off from what Snowden gave him to track the reach and methodology of the U.S. surveillance state and bring it to light with astonishing new clarity.  Along the way, he interrogated Snowden’s own history and found important ways in which myth and reality do not line up.  Gellman treats Snowden with respect, but this is no hagiographic account, and Dark Mirror sets the record straight in ways that are both fascinating and important.
 
Dark Mirror is the story that Gellman could not tell before, a gripping inside narrative of investigative reporting as it happened and a deep dive into the machinery of the surveillance state. Gellman recounts the puzzles, dilemmas and tumultuous events behind the scenes of his work – in top secret intelligence facilities, in Moscow hotel rooms, in huddles with Post lawyers and editors, in Silicon Valley executive suites, and in encrypted messages from anonymous accounts. Within the book is a compelling portrait of national security journalism under pressure from legal threats, government investigations, and foreign intelligence agencies intent on stealing Gellman’s files. Throughout Dark Mirror, Gellman wages an escalating battle against unknown adversaries who force him to mimic their tradecraft in self-defense. 

With the vivid and insightful style that is the author’s trademark, Dark Mirror is a true-life spy tale about the surveillance-industrial revolution and its discontents. Along the way, with the benefit of fresh reporting, it tells the full story of a government leak unrivaled in drama since All the President’s Men.

13. The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery And Deception | By Harold Keith

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Once a top-secret training manual for CIA field agents in the early Cold War Era of the 1950s, The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception is now available to the general public.

An amazing historical artifact, this eye-opening handbook offered step-by-step instructions to covert intelligence operatives in all manner of sleight of hand and trickery designed to thwart the Communist enemy. Part of the Company’s infamous MK-ULTRA—a secret mind-control and chemical interrogation research program—this legendary document, the brainchild of John Mulholland, then America’s most famous magician, was believed lost forever. But thanks to former CIA gadgeteer Bob Wallace and renowned spycraft historian H. Keith Melton, The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception is now available to everyone, spy and civilian alike.

14. Cyber Privacy | By April Falcon Doss

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You’re being tracked.

Amazon, Google, Facebook, governments. No matter who we are or where we go, someone is collecting our data: to profile us, target us, assess us; to predict our behavior and analyze our attitudes; to influence the things we do and buy—even to impact our vote.

If this makes you uneasy, it should.

We live in an era of unprecedented data aggregation, and it’s never been more difficult to navigate the trade-offs between individual privacy, personal convenience, national security, and corporate profits. Technology is evolving quickly, while laws and policies are changing slowly.

You shouldn’t have to be a privacy expert to understand what happens to your data.

April Falcon Doss, a privacy expert and former NSA and Senate lawyer, has seen this imbalance in action. She wants to empower individuals and see policy catch up.

In Cyber Privacy, Doss demystifies the digital footprints we leave in our daily lives and reveals how our data is being used—sometimes against us—by the private sector, the government, and even our employers and schools. She explains the trends in data science, technology, and the law that impact our everyday privacy. She tackles big questions: how data aggregation undermines personal autonomy, how to measure what privacy is worth, and how society can benefit from big data while managing its risks and being clear-eyed about its cost.

It’s high time to rethink notions of privacy and what, if anything, limits the power of those who are constantly watching, listening, and learning about us.

This book is for readers who want answers to three questions: Who has your data? Why should you care? And most important, what can you do about it?

15. The Real Guide to Surveillance | By Michael Chandler

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If you are someone who has previously been involved with covert surveillance then you may discover that you have already taken on some of the methods discussed in this book but was not sure of their formal titles. Similarly, if you were to be deployed on a surveillance task for the first time, you may find yourself instinctively adopting them. This book will serve as a reminder as to the names, methods, benefits and when to utilise such drills. It will also be beneficial to anyone who is unsure of the relevant legislation in the UK and how it impacts us as private contractors in comparison with public bodies such as local authorities, the police and intelligence services. You will also consider the various types of covert equipment that is available to surveillance operatives, their functions, benefits and downsides. This will be inclusive of the various forms of communications including formal two way radio etiquette. Given that photography is a huge part of covert observations, this will also be discussed in quite some detail. More specifically, we will look into SLR cameras, different types of lenses and the various settings that are available to ensure that the imagery that the operative takes is of the highest standard and usable for evidential purposes. In relation to evidence, we will also consider the art of report writing highlighting common errors that others make in the arena and how to avoid them. I will draw from relevant material pertaining to how public services write their reports combined with my experience in the Royal Military Police (TA) and as ‘Head of International Surveillance Operations’ for a private organisation. It’s all here and if properly digested, you will be able to write a competent surveillance report that is able to withstand the robust cross examination of a defence barrister, should your evidence ever make it to crown court. In addition to all of the above, you will gain further insight as to how operational briefings are constructed in an effort to later enable you to plan, prepare, brief and execute your own surveillance ops. This book was originally written from a two day basic surveillance training course that I wrote as a result of an apparent lack of properly trained surveillance operative in the private sector. The original (first edition) book was put together within a very short timeframe. I set a goal to have it completed before Christmas 2011 but due to numerous work related commitments, only managed to start in late November of the same year. As a result, the book was rushed and, in all honesty, not very well composed. This second edition is not only an updated version but also one that is inclusive of far more detail. It includes more content from the five day advance surveillance course which I finished writing in 2013. I have spent some time reconsidering the chronology of the content in an effort to make it more succinct with the overall topic. Another aspect in which I have attempted to improve is the timelessness of the publication. That is, I have endeavoured to resist the urge of referring to specific, current technology because it will affect how this book is perceived in the future. Writing about aspects of technology that are current at the time of writing a boom often proves worthless within a matter of years, sometimes even months at the rate in which technology is moving in this day and age. There are elements, as you will find throughout this book, that could simply not be avoided. I refer specifically to SLR cameras and how vehicle tracking devices currently function. The remainder relates to legislation (which will also change as time progresses) alongside covert foot surveillance techniques, mobile surveillance techniques, peripheral awareness, conscious and subconscious memory and many other aspects which, in theory, should remain the same.

Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Surveillance

It is shocking that Facebook once professed to “seek a vibrant public debate on the important issues of our time,” only to end up essentially shutting down this debate in the name of defending its own business.

Now it seems Facebook and other tech giants are doing their dirty work for them, silencing anyone who dares to challenge them on their current practices. In fact, Facebook has more to lose from calls for privacy than the marketers and businesses that depend on its social media. Yet we see virtually no calls for Facebook to be regulated like the other social media companies.

Happy reading!

Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.

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Which Country is the Best Tax Haven?

he tax havens are a legal way of hiding money from the IRS. They allow people to put their wealth in offshore accounts, which don't have to be reported on any taxes until they're withdrawn. The United States government has been trying for years to...

Are Tax Havens Legal?

Are Tax Havens Legal?

ax havens are a controversial topic. Some people believe that tax havens are illegal, while others think they can be legal. In this article, we will explore the legality of tax havens to help you make an educated decision about whether or not it...

Best Books on Tax Havens

Best Books on Tax Havens

he best books on Tax Havens is a list of some of the most popular and reputable books that can help you learn about how to reduce your taxes by taking advantage of countries with low or no taxation policies. Whether you want to find out about the...