Puts NSA Wiretapping in Context,
This book focuses on the value of transparency and considers the key issue to be the war between secrecy versus accountability. The author directly confronts the issue of “who controls” information about YOU.
The author draws a useful comparison between the Internet, which sacrificed security for robust sharing, and the intelligence community, which chose security over sharing as its primordal principal.
The author observes that the Internet is having one undesireable effect, that of fragmenting communities that become less amenable to compromise and consensus. He points out that reality and locationally based discussion can lead to more effective consensus and compromise.
There is a useful discussion of “tagging” and how citizen truth squads and public commentary can serve as a useful antidote to corporate messages. The idea of “culture jamming” is picked up and treated at length by another excellent book, “NO LOGO.”
Overall this book remains a standard in providing a detailed revoew of the issues and the capabilities surrounding digitial information about individuals. It is the author’s view that WHO controls information, rather than WHO is elected, will determine the future of democracy.
In passing the author makes two points that I find important:
1) A liberal education, rather than the current trends toward immediate specialization, is essential if the public is to be able to think critically.
2) Law enforcement under the current government model, does not work. The author gives the example of 100 felonies, of which only 33 are reported. Of the 33, 6 are caught, 3 are convicted, and 1 goes to prison.
The author ends with a reference to genius savant John Perry Barlow, one of America’s more notable commentators, and suggests that we are entering an era of individual collective intelligence against organized government intelligence (and secrecy).
I recommend this book be read together with “the digital person” because the latter book focuses on the degree to which government and corporate mistakes–“careless unconcerned bureaucratic processes” can undermine privacy and good order.