The best books about privacy and surveillance that will never grow obsolete

Lawrence Cappello Author Of None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age
By Lawrence Cappello

Who am I?

I grew up in an Italian-American family that taught its children to respect other people’s privacy, and demand that people respect ours. Privacy is an essential part of what it means to live in a free society. It creates space for intimacy. The deterioration of our privacy rights is one of the most important issues facing the modern world, and I’ve dedicated my career to teaching and writing about it. I am an author, a professor, and a data privacy professional. My public lectures on the right to privacy include the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Senate, the National Football League, and leading tech and cryptocurrency companies.


I wrote...

None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age

By Lawrence Cappello,

Book cover of None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age

What is my book about?

“‘What is it we fear we’re losing?’ Cappello asks in his brilliant history of privacy in America. Is there any timelier question? Thoroughly researched and deftly told, None of Your Damn Business is a history of privacy written for and about Wall Street and Main Street, government and the courts, intelligence operatives and digital entrepreneurs, current and future citizens. It deserves our full attention.” - David Nasaw, New York Times best-selling author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

The books I picked & why

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1984

By George Orwell,

Book cover of 1984

Why this book?

A masterpiece. The perfectly written portrait of a dystopian society where there is no privacy, no intimacy, no humanity – only fear and control. Written in the 1940s as a warning against the perils of fascism, it remains one of the most important works of literature currently in print. Required reading for anyone who lives in a democracy.   


Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

By Anna Wiener,

Book cover of Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

Why this book?

A beautifully written memoir about life and work in Silicon Valley in the 2010s and the culture built by our modern tech scions. Among other things the author explains, in clear down-to-earth language, just how much of our private information big data firms collect and process on a daily basis and how that collection can be used for nefarious purposes.


The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

By Shoshana Zuboff,

Book cover of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Why this book?

An important book. Zuboff captures in great detail the ways in which the erosion of our privacy has become embedded in our modern economy. Most people know that “information is power.” This is a book for anyone interested in how the bulk collection of information can be turned into money. This book is about the new normal.  


Privacy and Freedom

By Alan F. Westin,

Book cover of Privacy and Freedom

Why this book?

Written in the late-1960s, this is the original study of privacy by perhaps the greatest privacy scholar of the 20th century. Comprehensive and intricately detailed, Westin explores the changes and dangers facing American privacy at a crucial moment in American history. The book made such an impact when published that you can’t consider yourself a student of privacy if you haven’t read it. 


No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

By Glenn Greenwald,

Book cover of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

Why this book?

An unflinching look at the biggest surveillance whistleblower of the Internet Age. Greenwald tells the story of 29-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his leaking of classified documents about widespread illegal surveillance operations conducted by the United States government. The revelations detailed in this book sparked fierce debates about the future of American privacy and surveillance that are still shaping our modern political discourse.  


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