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Like Assange himself, I think this book will strongly divide people. It certainly aroused conflicting feelings in me.
It starts with a stark warning. We are sleepwalking into a surveillance society, of constantly being watched, where every detail of our lives, everything we say or write, every website we visit, our histories, preferences, misdemeanours and even gossip about us, are collected and stored by corporations and governments - essentially forever. This is contrasted with an increasing cloak of secrecy surrounding those with power, as they increasingly take control of the infrastructure of the Internet. This is the very opposite of the liberation the old style hackers and cypherpunks envisaged for the Internet.
Following that dramatic introduction, the majority of the book is a four way discussion on the implications of this. At times it verges on the paranoid, at other times it is like four blokes down the pub, speculating on possibilities for a future dystopia.
Several themes recur: the "Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse" are the rationale used by governments to justify increasing surveillance and censorship, which the book repeatedly seems to ridicule.
Here I started to have my doubts, for these seem to me serious societal problems, and perhaps the price of more security, is more surveillance - and that is a price worth paying.
Moreover, the strong recommendation of universal personal encryption measures, to evade surveillance, such as TOR for anonymous surfing, BitCoin for anonymous financial transactions, encrypted email clients etc. left me wondering why I would want to go to such lengths to hide what I see, buy, or write. Id be a little bemused if MI5 took a serious interest.
Then I read about Justin Carter, who was arrested and held for 5 months in Texas as a potential terrorist for making a sick joke on Facebook, and government starts to look less benign and more paranoid, and oppressive - and I concede that maybe Assange is on to something. As I write this the UK government is planning universal censorship by ISPs by default.
So, it's a worrying book, the narration is pitched just right, and it left me thinking seriously about the whole area of security, freedom, censorship and surveillance. That can only be a good thing.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
So for starters, if you want a preview of this book you can watch the Julian Assange Show episode titled Cypherpunks 1 and 2 (available various places, I watched it on Hulu) . The audiobook is a text version of a conversation between Julian Assange, Jeremie Zimmerman, Andy Müller-Maguhn, anbd Jacob Appelbaum, and the show is the video of part of the interview, though the book has the entire conversation.
The book provides a very realistic, and often unseen look at freedom or lack thereof, as well as various ways the government is trying to limit privacy and free speech on the internet through various things like SOPA or through Facebook. The audibook also talks a lot of the various ways "Cypherpunks" are able to maintain their autonomy, against the will of the government.
I really enjoyed the audiobook, and finished it easily within two days. Once I started it I couldn't put it down.... I think I listened to three and a half hours straight after starting it.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
We all need to understand the threats to the Internet, and we need to understand how the Internet is being used against us. This discussion is mostly about how governments and corporations work together to gather our information to be used however they want whether for us or against us.