Means of Control

Every day, we generate tons of digital exhaust: our web browsing, GPS location, online and in-store purchases, emails and messages, social media posts and feed viewing habits, and much, much more. Online marketers and data brokers have been living off these breadcrumbs for years. The intelligence and law enforcement agencies have found this data to be incredibly revealing, and they can buy most of this data on the open market without requiring any sort of warrant – and they have. This has important implications for democratic societies that value privacy and freedom. I’ll discuss how this mass surveillance works and what it means for all of us with Byron Tau, author of the book “Means of Control”.

Interview Notes

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:00:58: Update your Windows PCs
  • 0:01:32: Interview setup
  • 0:04:59: How might the collection of online data impact a regular person?
  • 0:10:13: What sorts of things can all this data reveal about us?
  • 0:15:44: How much can we learn by tracking a person’s location?
  • 0:17:38: What is ‘gray data’?
  • 0:22:40: Our data can be saved virtually forever – what are the ramifications?
  • 0:26:30: How are data gathering rules different for law enforcement vs intelligence agencies?
  • 0:32:54: When did data brokers start selling our info to government agencies?
  • 0:39:22: Is it legal for these agencies to act as data brokers themselves?
  • 0:42:12: What laws have impacted this sort of data collection in the US?
  • 0:44:49: How and why do these agencies hide this data collection?
  • 0:51:02: Are governments sharing data to skirt local restrictions?
  • 0:54:54: How have these spy programs evolved since 9/11?
  • 1:00:28: Have government agencies lobbied Congress against federal privacy laws??
  • 1:03:20: How can we limit data collection and increase our privacy?
  • 1:06:24: Could the Big Tech backlash help get a privacy law passed?
  • 1:08:33: What are you working on next?
  • 1:09:59: Interview follow-up
  • 1:11:36: Looking ahead