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Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
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Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,219 ratings  ·  356 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 8th 2016 by W. W. Norton Company (first published March 2nd 2015)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Todd N
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Birthday present for myself. Bought it at Santa Cruz Bookstore and the cashier scolded me for taking the magnetic anti-theft tracker out of the book before buying it. Savor the irony.

Update: Finished the book on 3/13.

I read this at the same time I was listening to The Snowden Files and No Place To Hide on Audible, so they are all jumbled up in my head. (They are also probably jumbled up with We Are Anonymous and Dataclysm too.) Instead of a review for each, I just have this series of notes -- in
...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Big Data helps in the indirect way of realizing dystopias.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

A book that is widely scattered and explains all aspects of the precarious situation to illustrate an increasingly threatening dilemma better. In contrast to other non-fiction books on the subject, which place the primary focus on the technical, economic, political or cultural aspect of the volatile situation and thus dilute it in pa
...more
Gordon
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, computers
If you've never heard of Ghostery or Disconnect, go ahead and look them up. Try out their web browser extensions (you can always easily uninstall them). What you'll notice is that you're being tracked by many companies, some of which you've heard of, but many of them will be unfamiliar. There aren't just a few companies tracking you, but well over a thousand. And it's not just companies that are tracking you, but governments as well (this should already be obvious). What's great about this book ...more
Caren
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Reading this book was deeply unsettling. After Edward Snowden, perhaps none of us is naive about how easily information about any of us can be found, but the author (whom the dust jacket bills as "one of the world's foremost security experts") takes the reader into the belly of the beast, as it were. After the first chapter, I was reeling. I work with a colleague who is extremely careful with her electronic trail. I had always thought maybe she was a bit paranoid. I would blithely think, "oh, I' ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I love the topic. I love the details provided in this book. But, to tell a story you need more than a great topic and a bunch of facts. One needs a narrative and an attitude to tie the pieces together. This book lacked the story telling 'je ne sais quoi" (literal: "I don't know what", but figuratively "elusive quality") though he does have the attitude.

I don't think there is any current topic where I could be more interested in than along the lines of the merging of the data that is out there wi
...more
Kevin
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Solid intro to the myths/realities of privacy/security in the Age of Information Technology, for the general public by an IT specialist:

The Good:
--In the modern world of complex abstractions (finance, world market, mass media, foreign policy, science & technology, etc.), there is a pressing need for introductions that balance accessibility without sacrificing nuance.
--Schneier combines technical expertise (computer security, cryptography) with a down-to-earth writing style, a gift for the publi
...more
Alison
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There is nothing that has made me more frightened of the prospect of Donald Trump as US President than reading this book. This is not because the book mentions Trump - it is a safe Trump-less read - but because the detailed image Schneier draws of the NSA, and its frenemies Google, Apple and other tech companies (not to mention low-profile security start-ups) offers a truly terrifying secret police state, able not only to know what we are thinking, but also to shape it. Schneier's moderate, chat ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
While reading this I think of Wile E Coyote in a shed on railroad tracks wanting to close the door in the face of an oncoming train that will shortly flatten him. When I read books like this about how intrusive the surveilance that we have by simply owning a cell phone and a computer. I feel like Wile E wanting to close the door and pretend that train is not barrelling down on us. By using free apps and search engines we are probed by governments and corporations in a way that the Stasi would en ...more
Rod Hilton
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Data and Goliath is an eye-opening read. I mean, I understand how I'm under constant surveillance due to things like my smartphone or cookies or Facebook, and I understand that the government gets access to a lot of this information via the Snowden leaks, but I guess I never fully connected all the dots enough in a single unified understanding of my world. Bruce Schneier provides it.

Most of the book is somewhat technical, helping the reader understand how data about them is collected and used. I
...more
Sara Watson
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Schneier covers all the bases, weaving together countless news stories and recent revelations to give us the big-picture view on data and its uses in our times. Pulled together in one place, Schneier illustrates the urgency of finding reasonable solutions to these hidden trade-offs that we’ve largely accepted because we never had much of a choice. And refreshingly, he offers his set of solutions and next steps.

Schneier's solutions—like “incent new business models” for corporations that run
...more
David
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My feelings about this book are all over the map so I'll present my thoughts in piecemeal fashion.

The author is very bright and knows the material intimately. The first third of the book (corporate data collection) is completely fascinating, I thought I'd finish the book in two days. The last two-thirds of the book read like a policy manual and are a complete slog; I couldn't wait to be done with the book.

The book was written in 2014 but is still quite relevant in 2018 (viz. Facebook in the hea
...more
Popup-ch
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was expecting a shrill hyperventilating diatribe against pervasive surveillance and insistence on using air-gapped laptops and return to a cash-only economy.

In contrast it's a very reasonable overview of the current state of mass- / targeted surveillance and the current trends in data collection and mining, together with informed guesses about the way this is evolving. He suggests some ways of reducing the impact on individual privacy violations, and mo
...more
Angela
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, library
Ahhh, it has been TOO LONG, TECH/DIGITAL CIVIL LIBERTIES BOOK SHELF. Oh, how I missed thee. How I have missed thine refreshing icy showers. How inspired I am to finally go full Linux!

So this book is nothing new, if you've listened to The Surveillance State, or read Cory Doctorow, or were paying attention during Ed Snowden's explosive whistleblowing in 2013. I would also recommend Jaron Lanier and Sherry Turkle and the spam book and Richard Stallman, specifically his encyclopedic reasons not to u
...more
Libby Bishop
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I work with data, and I am hopeful about the power of data to address human needs, especially in health care. But I am even more fearful that current abuses of personal data and privacy, with the inevitable backlash, will undermine these possibilities.

Schneiner's book, though not short, is the best, briefest, most readable summary of key debates and solutions in this domain. If I could give it six stars, I would.

This is how he presents the key question:
“How do we design systems that make use of
...more
Emily
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2016
Well, this sure was eye-opening and worrisome. I read it for school, and I'll be interested to see what everyone thinks. Mostly I came out of this feeling like trying to protect my privacy is a losing battle. The author doesn't suggest that, and he has some helpful hints at the end of the book, but the problems he talks about still feel overwhelming.
The book has over 100 pages of references, and I'm a little cranky about whatever citation style he used. Not very user-friendly.
A lot of his sol
...more
Jimmy Ele
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book that everyone should read. If you want to understand the ubiquity of mass surveillance, I highly recommend this book.
Nick Grasse
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier, I gained a whole new perspective on the digital world that surrounds us. Previously, I was aware that companies and corporations may view some of your data on websites and social media because of the terms and conditions listed on their websites, but I didn’t fully realize the extent of surveillance that is placed upon us, usually without most people aware.
Privacy is an essential human right, and it is necessary in the world we live in today. Un
...more
Anabelle Bernard Fournier
If you’d asked me a year ago, “do you worry about government surveillance?”, I would have said no. But today, my answer would be an empathic YES.

The scary part is that, like most Canadians, I hadn’t worried about that kind of surveillance until the current debate around C-51. (If you don’t know what that is, check it out here.) This terrifying bill would, among many other things, make it illegal to talk positively of terrorism on the internet. Just look at the news in Canada on any day lately, a
...more
Karel Baloun
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Schneier brilliance and razor sharp thinking are perfectly apparent in this expertly crafted, concise, practical book. Every assertion is supported by copious endnotes, in a format every non-fiction book should immediately emulate — it powerfully encourages deeper investigation and openness. Refreshingly, more that a full third of the book is dedicated to Solutions. “We need to reaffirm our support for a free, open, and global Internet, and then work to ensure its continued existence.” (p221)

And
...more
Chad Warner
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: security-conscious, privacy-conscious
This book is more about politics than practical tips for protecting yourself online. Schneier, a recognized voice in security and privacy, talks about "the use and misuse of our personal data." I was expecting more of the book to be like Chapter 15, "Solutions for the Rest of Us," with practical tips for protecting your privacy online.

Schneier explains the political and societal ramifications of mass surveillance, then calls for legal reform to eliminate mass surveillance and use only targeted s
...more
Bryan Geurkink
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
In an increasingly digital-oriented world, the lines of privacy and security have become blurred. With this rise in digital technology, computers constantly produce data about people's social lives, interests, physical well-being, and more. The shocking fact about it: Governments and corporations use this data to survey people's lives. Bruce Schneier expands on this reality and explains how a mass surveillance society has taken over our world. Schneier discusses what all is at stake, including ...more
Brian Palmer
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear prose and a fairly comprehensive overview of the state of surveillance in a post-Snowden world. One very annoying issue, however: the book uses unnumbered endnotes, which I had not run into before. If you see a claim on page 10 that you want to check on, you flip to the notes at the back, go to the notes for page 10, and see if any of the notes are relevant to what you're checking on. With no numbered markings visible, this seems to encourage skepticism, but its novelty (at least to me) wa ...more
Sherine Van
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
For someone who doesn't necessarily enjoy nonfiction, this is still a book I would recommend. It is a fast read and full of surprising facts most of us never thought about. Bruce Schneider brilliantly explains the dangers we face in this new technological era of living online. We may believe that every time we delete something or erase it then it is permanent, but this book opens our eyes to the reality of how every keystroke tells a story of who we are and the traces never disappear. Nothing yo ...more
Vicky Hunt
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very clearly written facts on our data, the 'exhaust' of the information age. Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“We kill people based on metadata.”
“If something is free, you’re not the customer; you’re the product.”
"Ubiquitous mass surveillance is the enemy of democracy, liberty, freedom, and progress."
“we tend to focus on rare and spectacular threats and ignore the more frequent and pedestrian ones. So we fear flying more than driving, even though the former is much safer. Or we fear
...more
Laci
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'd recommend this book to anyone who uses (or comes in contact with) any electronic devices.
It explains, in clear and layman's terms, how data about us is collected online and off, by both governments and corporations, and how it's used to spy on us, sell us stuff, violate our privacy or give us actually useful services that provide great value.

One of the best things about this book is that while the author openly advocates for the need of privacy and security in our everyday lives, he doesn'
...more
Avani
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first half of this book is akin to reading a non-stop barrage of the scariest EFF bulletins, and the second half is a slightly thin but very well written set of reassuring suggestions and political levers to address privacy while still maintaining a positive relationship with national security.

My favorite new to me idea was the analogy between the debate between Hobbes's benevolent dictators and Locke's social contract with the debate over the trust policies in corporate data. Other fun fac
...more
Svetlana
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a few things from the book I've already known about from other sources but when brought together in their totality in one place the extent of the data misuse, surveillance and all those business models based on collecting as much user data as possible make a very grave impression. This book is a good wake-up call and raises timely and pertinent questions about security, privacy and their value and interactions.
It focuses more on the warnings and the negative effects of collecting all the d
...more
Dan
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Schneier is a great expert on digital privacy, security and their effects on society.

I started this book in 2015, set it aside (the tempo wasn't too good) for a while and finished in 2017. Pity, as I should have done it in one go. Quite a bit of the material is already slightly obsolete in 2017, with Privacy Shield, Trump, GDPR, ePrivacy and other aspects. I agree with Bruce's ideas. I approve that he tries to be constructive and give solutions. I wish that the world could move past the cu
...more
Kerem
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Snowden's revelations about NSA, everyone started to wonder about the extent and details of the mass surveillance. This book gives a very good account of mass surveillance, not only by governments but also by corporations, how these would affect all of us (from privacy to liberty), and what can done about it. I particularly enjoyed the parts where Schneier discussed the impacts on our wellbeing/psychology/personality as well as the whole society and human progress. The book is written quit ...more
Jack Oughton
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In summary...

Data mining = The Panopticon

Privacy situation = rapidly worsening as data mining technology improves

Very compelling reading - may also inspire paranoia and/or panic!
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Bruce Schneier is "one of the world's foremost security experts" (Wired) and the best-selling author of thirteen books. He speaks and writes regularly for major media venues, and his newsletter and blog reach more than 250,000 people worldwide. He is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and the CTO of Resilient Systems, Inc.

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Are you having a difficult time reading these days? If so, you're not alone. Since the pandemic began, I've found it harder to concentrate on...
35 likes · 12 comments
“We kill people based on metadata.” 16 likes
“If something is free, you’re not the customer; you’re the product.” 9 likes
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