“Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World ”, by Bruce Schneier
It is worth being informed. Highlighting added for emphasis.
Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World is available at Amazon in hardcover, Kindle and Audible versions.
If you need to be convinced that you’re living in a science-fiction world, look at your cell phone. This cute, sleek, incredibly powerful tool has become so central to our lives that we take it for granted. It seems perfectly normal to pull this device out of your pocket, no matter where you are on the planet, and use it to talk to someone else, no matter where the person is on the planet.
Yet every morning when you put your cell phone in your pocket, you’re making an implicit bargain with the carrier: “I want to make and receive mobile calls; in exchange, I allow this company to know where I am at all times.” The bargain isn’t specified in any contract, but it’s inherent in how the service works. You probably hadn’t thought about it, but now that I’ve pointed it out, you might well think it’s a pretty good bargain. Cell phones really are great, and they can’t work unless the cell phone companies know where you are, which means they keep you under their surveillance.
This is a very intimate form of surveillance. Your cell phone tracks where you live and where you work. It tracks where you like to spend your weekends and evenings. It tracks how often you go to church (and which church), how much time you spend in a bar, and whether you speed when you drive. It tracks— since it knows about all the other phones in your area— whom you spend your days with, whom you meet for lunch, and whom you sleep with. The accumulated data can probably paint a better picture of how you spend your time than you can, because it doesn’t have to rely on human memory. In 2012, researchers were able to use this data to predict where people would be 24 hours later, to within 20 meters.
Before cell phones, if someone wanted to know all of this, he would have had to hire a private investigator to follow you around taking notes. Now that job is obsolete; the cell phone in your pocket does all of this automatically. It might be that no one retrieves that information, but it is there for the taking.
Your location information is valuable, and everyone wants access to it. The police want it. Cell phone location analysis is useful in criminal investigations in several different ways. The police can “ping” a particular phone to determine where it is, use historical data to determine where it has been, and collect all the cell phone location data from a specific area to figure out who was there and when. More and more, police are using this data for exactly these purposes.
Governments also use this same data for intimidation and social control. In 2014, the government of Ukraine sent this positively Orwellian text message to people in Kiev whose phones were at a certain place during a certain time period: “Dear subscriber, you have been registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”
Don’t think this behavior is limited to totalitarian countries; in 2010, Michigan police sought information about every cell phone in service near an expected labor protest. They didn’t bother getting a warrant first.
There’s a whole industry devoted to tracking you in real time. Companies use your phone to track you in stores to learn how you shop, track you on the road to determine how close you might be to a particular store, and deliver advertising to your phone based on where you are right now. Your location data is so valuable that cell phone companies are now selling it to data brokers, who in turn resell it to anyone willing to pay for it. Companies like Sense Networks specialize in using...
Schneier, Bruce (2015-03-02). Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World (p. 2). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
— Schneier, Bruce (2015-03-02). Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World (pp. 1-2). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
MPG: Heck, *I* would like to see a plot on a map of my whereabouts (and heck, maybe my teenagers too). I bet people would actually pay for such a facility.
With this technology (phones), we in the USA are only one step away from a chilling police state that the Stasi and KGB would have killed for. “Wartime powers” anyone? Only that little scrap of paper getting so much contempt these days stands in the way (The Consitution).
Don H writes:
While Bruce Schneier is certainly a preeminent authority on security, his book is hardly the first to call out the data-collection threat that we face. The first serious treatment that I’ve read is Database Nation : The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century by Simson Garfinkel (I assume you’ve heard of him from your PGP days):
I’m somewhat amazed and dismayed that in this decade most of the issues that he discussed have come to the fore, yet so few people know about this book. Read any online discussion and everyone seems to be just discovering what was predicted 15 years ago.
It’s too bad ‘Database Nation’ hasn’t been updated, particularly in a post-Snowden world.