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Dragnet Nation

A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance

By Julia Angwin
15-minute read
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

Dragnet Nation details the ways in which governments and corporations can gather vast amounts of your personal data and how this affects you. The book explains how easily such sensitive data can be abused, and that ultimately, such practices lead to a loss of freedom for all of us.

  • Anyone who wants to protect their privacy online
  • Anyone who does not think that data mining and privacy are a big deal
  • Anyone interested in how personal data is collected by governments and corporations

Julia Angwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative journalist for independent news organization ProPublica. She is the author of the book Stealing MySpace, charting the creation and rise of social media site MySpace, and was formerly a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal.

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Dragnet Nation

A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance

By Julia Angwin
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin
Synopsis

Dragnet Nation details the ways in which governments and corporations can gather vast amounts of your personal data and how this affects you. The book explains how easily such sensitive data can be abused, and that ultimately, such practices lead to a loss of freedom for all of us.

Key idea 1 of 9

You’re not paranoid, you’re right: We live in a world where someone is always watching us.

The threat of espionage was a concern once limited to heads of state – but now, each one of us should always wonder if someone, somewhere, is spying on us.

New technology has changed the rules of the game. The ubiquity of computers has made it easier to gather information at little cost. Before this, tracking was simply too expensive – just imagine how much it would cost to have a private investigator tail a subject for months, for a few bits of trivial information.

Thus governments kept just a few data points, such as birth or marriage records, property deeds or death certificates. Companies only had access to your information once you purchased an item or filled out a contract.

Within the past ten years, however, the price to store data has fallen over 300 percent. Now it is cheaper than ever for governments and companies to keep our personal records.

Thanks to Edward Snowden – the whistleblower who leaked information in 2013 on the activities of the U.S. National Security Agency – we know institutions can and do gather a lot of data. Though the NSA is mandated only to intercept foreign communications, Snowden’s documents revealed that the agency also collects phone records and online information of U.S. citizens.

Yet the NSA isn’t the only agency playing this game; American local and state governments also are involved in surveillance. Some agencies use automated car license readers, for example, to help track and analyze citizens’ movements.

Companies are also involved. Cell phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon sell information on your physical location to data brokers; advertisers follow you online. Mall owners can also track how you browse from shop to shop, and some retailers now use facial recognition to remember who you are and what you’ve purchased.

Should you be concerned about surveillance? The next blink will answer this very question.

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