Recently, I’ve been circulating a reading list of papers and reports on the NSA revelations on a couple of mailing lists. The writings take a step back from the nitty gritty details, and focus on the more fundamental issues that technical, legal and political responses need to address. People have been asking me to blog about it, so here’s a stub, and I encourage you all to add your suggestions in the comments. [UPDATE 25.02.14: added extra sources on securitization]
Obviously, this is only the beginning and I don’t want to flood you all with dozens of papers right away. I’ve tried to take a step back from specific programs and offer different angles to the problem, and to be not too US centric. Check out these materials, above all check their references.
Several organizations and blogs are keeping track of the original documents, linked here. The first two reports are somewhat obligatory as a starting point. It gets more interesting from the third suggestion onwards.
- Presidential Advisory Committee’s Recommendations for N.S.A., Dec. ’13, suggests 40 revisions to current practises.
- EU Parliament draft report [pdf] on the NSA revelations, LIBE Committee, Jan. 2014.
- J. Nye & W. Owens, America’s Information Edge: The Power Resource of the Future, Foreign Affairs, Apr. ’96 [web] [pdf]. If there would be one paper to read right now, it’s this one. It gives you insight into the underlying incentives of U.S. surveillance practices, and U.S. web policies more generally, since the mid ’90s well into the future. After reading it, you’ll better understand revelations such as the NSA’s Sigint Strategy for 2012-2016 and the news of NSA spying at the Copenhagen Climate Change summit of 2009 with its huge impact on the developing world. For more on this topic, check out Andreas Schmidt’s two inspiring longreads on what he calls ‘information hegemony’.
- B. Woodcock, ‘On Internet, Brazil is beating US on its own game’, Sept. ’13, Al Jazeera America. Interesting take on over a decade of Brazilian internet policies and infrastructure investments, largely aimed at being independent from the global north.
- CEPS, Mass Surveillance of Personal Data by EU Member States and its Compatibility with EU Law, 6 Nov. 2013, on surveillance practises by EU Member State intelligence agencies. Let’s not forget other countries, notably the U.K.
- Snowden and the Future, Eben Moglen’s intellectually stimulating lecture series. The transcripts read like papers in themselves. Part III is my personal favorite.
- Yochai Benkler is as thought proviking as ever in his talk “System and Conscience: NSA Bulk Surveillance and the Problem of Freedom”, a Dec. ’13 CRCS Lunch Seminar at Harvard University.
- Ed Fetlen’s Oct. ’13 written testimony [pdf] to the US Senate Judiciary Committee on the power of metadata surveillance will be a major reference point for years to come.
- Bruce Schneier’s blog and crypto-gram newsletter are great sources. Apart from deep knowledge and actually having seen some of the documents, he is amazingly quick to provide context.
- J.V.J. van Hoboken, A.M. Arnbak & N.A.N.M. van Eijk, ‘Obscured by Clouds, or How to Address Governmental Access to Cloud Data from Abroad’, June 2013. Workshopped at PLSC 2013 on the day Snowden revealed PRISM. Amongst others, we look at what European, international and national (Dutch) law can do about FISA – which is very little. A November 2012 version has much more on information security implications for non-US cloud customers.
- ‘Making up big data, in theory’, an Oct. ’13 survey into the metaphors we use to describe our current condition, by ethnographer Tom Boelstorff. Surprising, inspiring perspectives that I’ve blogged about here at Freedom to Tinker.
- A Special Committee of the EU Parliament released a strong report [pdf] on the Echelon satellite surveillance program in July 2001. The Echelon committee outcome was buried by 9/11, which happened just a few days after the final session of the special committee.
- A month later, in a different world, President Bush sent his wish list of surveillance measures to the EU Commission. It contains an explicit demand to “revise draft privacy directives that call for mandatory destruction to permit the retention of critical data for a reasonable period” – a build-up to the controversial EU Data Retention Directive that is currently being considered by the E.U. Court of Justice on conformity with the right to privacy of the E.U. Charter.
- Katja Franko Aas et al, Technologies of InSecurity: The Surveillance of Everyday Life. Multi-disciplinary take on why governments, corporations and citizens are so obsessed with security and surveillance. Wish I had studied this book when I started my Ph.D. Very, very insightful.
- [insert your suggestion here]