What are citizens of a free country willing to tolerate in the name of public safety?
Jon Fasman journeys from the US to London — one of the most heavily surveilled cities on earth — to China and beyond, to expose the legal, political, and moral issues surrounding how the state uses surveillance technology.
Automatic licence-plate readers allow police to amass a granular record of where people go, when, and for how long. Drones give the state eyes — and possibly weapons — in the skies. Algorithms purport to predict where and when crime will occur, and how big a risk a suspect has of reoffending. Specially designed tools can crack a device’s encryption keys, rending all privacy protections useless. And facial recognition technology poses perhaps a more dire and lasting threat than any other form of surveillance.
Jon Fasman examines how these technologies help police do their jobs, and what their use means for our privacy rights and civil liberties, exploring vital questions, such as: Should we expect to be tracked and filmed whenever we leave our homes? Should the state have access to all of the data we generate? Should private companies? What might happen if all of these technologies are combined and put in the hands of a government with scant regard for its citizens’ civil liberties?
Through on-the-ground reporting and vivid storytelling, Fasman explores one of the most urgent issues of our time.
‘A cogent critique of the age of ubiquitous surveillance … An urgent examination of police-state intrusions on the privacy of lawful and law-abiding citizens.’
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‘If you want to understand the stakes and the landscape of surveillance in your life — yes, yours right now — We See It All is an outstanding place to start. Fasman walks his readers through a meticulously balanced review of how police, corporations, local businesses, governments, and ordinary people conspire to exchange real privacy for the feeling of safety. An evocative storyteller, Fasman lays out his case that, because government regulation lags impossibly behind technological advances, the only salve for our predicament is collective awareness. And collective action. The writing is sober and sobering. And, though the recent fires of Minneapolis, Atlanta, Portland, and the nation have not centred squarely on surveillance, Fasman argues convincingly that the next ones very well might.’
Phillip Atiba Goff, co-founder and CEO of the Centre for Policing Equity, and professor of African American studies and psychology at Yale University
‘This powerful, engrossing book will challenge your assumptions about persistent surveillance. Jon Fasman makes a clear case for civil liberties and explains how our laws and public safety infrastructure must keep pace with the advancement of technology. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the future and the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence, data, encryption and recognition technology.’
Amy Webb, founder of The Future Today Institute, author of The Big Nine and The Signals are Talking
‘Jon Fasman has given us a stellar account of the use of surveillance technologies by the police. It's comprehensive, even-handed, informative, and fun to read.’
Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg professor at New York University School of Law
‘This lively book is a call to action.’
David Anderson, Literary Review
Praise for The Unpossessed City:
‘Bestseller Fasman … takes a compassionate look at the hard truths of modern-day Russia in his absorbing second novel … The bio-thriller aspect of the plot provides a loose frame for Fasman's real concerns … and, more importantly, the trials and tribulations of the new Russia itself.’
Praise for The Geographer's Library:
‘A brainy noir … [A] winningly cryptic tale … [A] cabinet of wonders written by a novelist whose surname and sensibility fit comfortably on the shelf between Umberto Eco and John Fowles.’
Los Angeles Times
Praise for The Geographer's Library:
‘One of the year's most literate and absorbing entertainments.’