Book Talk: Spying on Democracy
Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance
"Heidi Boghosian's Spying on Democracy is the answer to the question, 'if you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care if someone's watching you?'"
-- Michael German, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU and former FBI agent
Until the watershed leak of top-secret documents by Edward Snowden to the Guardian UK and the Washington Post, most Americans did not realize the extent to which our government is actively acquiring personal information from telecommunications companies and other corporations. As made startlingly clear, the National Security Agency (NSA) has collected information on every phone call Americans have made over the past seven years. In that same time, the NSA and the FBI have gained the ability to access emails, photos, audio and video chats, and additional content from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, YouTube, Skype, Apple, and others, allegedly in order to track foreign targets.
In Spying on Democracy, National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian documents the disturbing increase in surveillance of ordinary citizens and the danger it poses to our privacy, our civil liberties, and to the future of democracy itself. Boghosian reveals how technology is being used to categorize and monitor people based on their associations, their movements, their purchases, and their perceived political beliefs. She shows how corporations and government intelligence agencies mine data from sources as diverse as surveillance cameras and unmanned drones to iris scans and medical records, while combing websites, email, phone records and social media for resale to third parties, including U.S. intelligence agencies.
The ACLU's Michael German says of the examples shown in Boghosian's book, "this unrestrained spying is inevitably used to suppress the most essential tools of democracy: the press, political activists, civil rights advocates and conscientious insiders who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance and government abuse." Boghosian adds, "If the trend is permitted to continue, we will soon live in a society where nothing is confidential, no information is really secure, and our civil liberties are under constant surveillance and control." Spying on Democracy is a timely, invaluable, and accessible primer for anyone concerned with protecting privacy, freedom, and the U.S. Constitution.
Heidi Boghosian is the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive Bar Association established in 1937. She co-hosts the weekly civil liberties radio program, "Law and Disorder," which airs on Pacifica's WBAI in New York and on over 50 national affiliate stations around the country. She has published numerous articles and reports on policing, protest, and the First Amendment, including The Policing of Political Speech, Applying Restraints to Private Police, and The Assault on Free Speech, Public Assembly, and Dissent. Her book reviews have been published in The Federal Lawyer and the New York Law Journal. She received her JD from Temple Law School where she was editor-in-chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. She also holds an MS from Boston University College of Communication and a BA from Brown University. She is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, New York, the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
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