In the first week of June 2013, the American people discovered that for a decade, they had abjectly traded their individual privacy for the chimera of national security. The revelation that the federal government has full access to all phone records and the vast trove of presumably private personal data posted on the Internet has brought the threat of a surveillance society to the fore.
But the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Big business has long played a leading role in the hollowing out of personal freedoms. In this new book, Robert Scheer shows how our most intimate habits, from private correspondence, book pages read, and lists of friends and phone conversations have been seamlessly combined in order to create a detailed map of an individual’s social and biological DNA.
From wiretapping to lax social media security, from domestic spy drones to sophisticated biometrics, both the United States government and private corporate interests have dangerously undermined the delicate balance between national security and individual sovereignty. Without privacy, Scheer argues, there is neither freedom nor democracy. The freedom to be left alone embodies the most basic of human rights. Yet this freedom has been squandered in the name of national security and consumer convenience.
The information revolution has exposed much of the world’s population to a boundless world of universally shared information. But it has also stripped both passive and active participants of their every shred of privacy in ways most don’t comprehend. No authoritarian regime ever could have hoped to gain the power to control the power and aspirations of their subjects that today's off-the-shelf information technology already provides. The technology of surveillance, Scheer warns, represents an existential threat to the liberation of the human spirit.