: New: Book Report: Dragnet Nation

In which a reporter explores preserving privacy, trying out tools and processes to keep governments and companies from learning about her. This book could easily have devolved into tinfoil-hattery, but the writer's pretty even-keeled. (I might not agree with all her choices. But this is quibbling along the lines of "Hrm, I disagree that you should be more worried about Google spying on you than about the NSA hacking into DuckDuckGo, but we'll probably never know who was right." rather than the usual "OMG this froot-loop read about a Panopticon once and hasn't slept since".) Since she is a reporter, this is higher stakes than you or I experience when thinking about privacy. If someone peeks at my emails, they find griping about computer programming and planning around burritos; I'm not a reporter. This book's author wants to protect her sources. She (correctly) anticipates that she can't live "off the grid" unless she's willing to put unreasonable time into it. So she tries some things and lets us know which seemed to work and which just couldn't be pulled off.

E.g., it's all very well to say you should use different phones when dealing with different people so phone connection metadata-miners have a tougher time mapping out your social network. But have you actually tried the logistics of juggling multiple phones? How much "privacy juice" do you preserve by leaving your mobile phone in a faraday bag most of the time (so that folks monitoring phone metadata don't know where you've been) versus the hassle that folks can't, y'know, call you because your phone's effectively off most of the time? No easy answers here. (Well, that's not exactly true. There are some things you can do. (Have you installed WhisperSystems Signal on your phone and made it your messaging app yet?) But they won't render you invisible via magical privacy fairy dust; they hide some things but not all.) But an interesting discussion of trade-offs.

Tags: book capabilities

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