Nate Cardozo, Electric Frontier Foundation, interviews Robert Scheer to discuss Scheer’s new book, They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy from Public Affairs Books.
They Know Everything About You is a groundbreaking exposé of how government agencies and tech corporations monitor virtually every aspect of our lives, and a fierce defense of privacy and democracy.
The revelation that the government has access to a vast trove of personal online data demonstrates that we already live in a surveillance society. But the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA are using Silicon Valley corporate partners as their data spies. Seemingly progressive tech companies are joining forces with snooping government agencies to create a brave new world of wired tyranny.
Life in the digital age poses an unprecedented challenge to our constitutional liberties, which guarantee a wall of privacy between the individual and the government. The basic assumption of democracy requires the ability of the individual to experiment with ideas and associations within a protected zone, as secured by the Constitution. The unobserved moment embodies the most basic of human rights, yet it is being squandered in the name of national security and consumer convenience.
Robert Scheer argues that the information revolution, while a source of public enlightenment, contains the seeds of freedom’s destruction in the form of a surveillance state that exceeds the wildest dream of the most ingenious dictator. The technology of surveillance, unless vigorously resisted, represents an existential threat to the liberation of the human spirit.
Robert Scheer is the editor-in-chief of the Webby Award–winning online magazine Truthdig, professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and co-host of Left, Right & Center, a weekly syndicated radio show broadcast from NPR’s west coast affiliate, KCRW. In the 1960s, he was editor of the groundbreaking Ramparts magazine and later was national correspondent and columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Scheer is the author of nine books, including The Great American Stickup. He lives in Los Angeles.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF works to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows.
Nate Cardozo is a Staff Attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s digital civil liberties team. In addition to his focus on free speech and privacy litigation, Nate works on EFF’s Who Has Your Back? report and Coders’ Rights Project. Nate has projects involving cryptography and the law, automotive privacy, government transparency, hardware hacking rights, anonymous speech, electronic privacy law reform, Freedom of Information Act litigation, and resisting the expansion of the surveillance state. A 2009-2010 EFF Open Government Legal Fellow, Nate spent two years in private practice before returning to his senses and to EFF in 2012. Nate has a B.A. in Anthropology and Politics from U.C. Santa Cruz and a J.D. from U.C. Hastings where he has taught first-year legal writing and moot court.
Critical Praise for They Know Everything About You:
“…Scheer powerfully connects the dots of our chilling Orwellian present, one in which privacy is considered a luxury, rather than a right.” —Publishers Weekly
“A vital piece of work that demands attention.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Robert Scheer reminds us that privacy is everything—the protector of our liberty, the guarantor of our personal autonomy, the fountainhead of our democracy—and yet it’s disappearing faster than an electronic blip moving at warp speed from your computer to the NSA. With clarity and precision, Scheer dissects the military-intelligence complex, showing it to be neither very secure nor very intelligent, but, rather, dangerous to us all.” —Robert B. Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
“They Know Everything About You is a brilliant book. Robert Scheer, who covered my 1971 trial after I released the Pentagon Papers, has been following privacy and surveillance issues for decades. He is a key voice and his book— cogent, timely, and fascinating—is an indispensable text for our time.” —Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
“Robert Scheer has undertaken a penetrating examination of Americans’ disappearing privacy and issued a clarion call in these pages, lest we unwittingly click-away our freedom.” —John W. Dean, bestselling author and former Nixon White House counsel
“Scheer is one of the most important journalists in America. He is not only brilliant, possessed by a fierce and uncompromising integrity, but is a lyrical and often moving writer. All of these talents are on full display in his latest book about the rise of the security and surveillance state and the terrifying dystopia that will be visited upon us all unless our right to privacy is returned to us.” —Chris Hedges, fellow at The Nation Institute and coauthor of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt
“This is what journalism looks like, provided by one of the greatest reporters of our times. Scheer has written a powerful indictment of the present-day corporate-government surveillance regime that has effectively eliminated the right to privacy. Like a master surgeon, he dissects the self-serving rationales for the wholesale illegal spying on Americans and shows them to be nonsense.” —Robert W. McChesney, author of Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century