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Means of Control: How the Hidden Alliance of Tech and Government Is Creating a New American Surveillance State

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A sweeping exposé of the U.S. government’s alliance with data brokers, tech companies, and advertisers, and how their efforts are reshaping surveillance and privacy as we know it

Our modern world is awash in surveillance. Most of us are dimly aware of this—ever get the sense that an ad is “following” you around the internet?—but we don’t understand the extent to which the technology embedded in our phones, computers, cars, and homes is part of a vast ecosystem of data collection. Our public spaces are blanketed by cameras put up in the name of security. And pretty much everything that emits a wireless signal of any kind—routers, televisions, Bluetooth devices, chip-enabled credit cards, even the tires of every car manufactured since the mid-2000s—can be and often is covertly monitored. All of this surveillance has produced an extraordinary amount of data about every citizen—and the biggest customer is the U.S. government.

Reporter Byron Tau has been digging deep inside the growing alliance between business, tech, and government for years, piecing together a secret story: how the whole of the internet and every digital device in the world have become a mechanism of intelligence, surveillance, and monitoring. Tau traces the unlikely tale of how the government came to view commercial data as a principal asset of national security in the years after 9/11, working with scores of anonymous companies, many scattered across bland Northern Virginia suburbs, to build a foreign and domestic surveillance capacity of such breathtaking scope that it could peer into the lives of nearly everyone on the planet. The result is a cottage industry of data brokers and government bureaucrats with one directive—“get everything you can”—and, as Tau observes, a darkly humorous world in which defense contractors have marketing subsidiaries, and marketing companies have defense contractor subsidiaries.

Sobering and revelatory, Means of Control is our era’s defining story of the dangerous grand bargain we’ve made: ubiquitous, often cheap technology, but at what price to our privacy?

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Crown (March 5, 2024)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593443225
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593443224
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1 x 9.25 inches

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