Notes on Permanent Record

2019/12/22

Notes on Edward Snowden's book Permanent Record. Grab while supplies last. Ideally from a brick-and-mortar store, paid in cash. Although if you have visited this website, you're already likely to be on the system anyway :)

Many of the notes are quotes. It's also possible that I forgot to quote some of the quotes, or that I quoted them incorrectly. I am sure I missed a bunch of stuff too, the book is a gold mine. Will update on a second read-through.

  • Pages 4-5: The Internet, from a creative space to a commercialized space.
  • Page 6 Last paragraph: best definition of privacy.
  • Page 28: Principle of self-reliance.
  • Page 56: Permanent record.
  • Page 59: Person of interest - interested person.
  • Pages 62-63: Parents divorce, invulnerable icons of your childhood.
  • Page 63: “Blessing of trauma”, opportunity for reinvention, appreciate the world.
  • Page 66: Human encryption.
  • Page 86: Psychology of cadence.
  • Page 88: Battle buddies. Being alone might lead to thinking.
  • Page 96: Internet as a permanent record for the new generations.
  • Page 106: Realisation that the world is not a duality of good and evil, unlike many video games.
  • Page 107: The old Internet as the early, revolutionary America. A society based on knowledge and technological ability.
  • Pages 109-110: The government as a system, like a computer system.
  • Pages 118-119: “Bumping up salaries was in everyone’s interest — everyone’s, that is, except the taxpayer’s.”
  • Page 122: Arrogance of computer whizzes. Arrogance of the tech industry.
  • Pages 126-127: Shift in the IC to give young tech workers more access and control.
  • Page 142: “The Count”.
  • Page 157: Depersonalization of experience fostered by the distance of a screen.
  • Page 158: “People will jump to explain how much more they know than you about the stuff they care about deeply.”
  • Page 161: “Something that is devastating for the public can be, and often is, beneficial to the elites.”
  • Page 168: Permanent record.
  • Page 168: How he came about learning of the NSA’s mass surveillance.
  • Page 170: Mass surveillance in China.
  • Page 171: The fundamental rule of technological progress.
  • Page 175: “The best way to find something is to stop looking for it.”
  • Page 175: The report.
  • Page 177: The transformation of the NSA to redefine citizens’ private Internet communications as potential signals intelligence.
  • Pages 177-178: Redefinition of “acquire” and “obtain”. Storing “unobtained” data forever, awaiting its future manipulation. An eternal law-enforcement agency.
  • Pages 178-180: Metadata. Metadata gives the big picture as well as the small picture. "Gives the surveillant almost everything they would ever want to know about you, except for what’s actually going on in your head."
  • Page 180: Law lags behind technological innovation by at least a generation.
  • Page 180: The law gives more protection to a communication’s content than to its metadata.
  • Page 182: Amorality of technology. Technology is made on the basis of “can we”, not “should we”, and the intention driving a technology’s invention rarely, if ever, limits its application and use.
  • Pages 191-192: Corporate surveillance.
  • Page 193: The cloud as a regression to the old mainframe architecture of computing, controlled by the elite.
  • Page 194: America’s fundamental laws to make law enforcement not easier but harder. It’s a feature of democracy, not a bug.
  • Page 195: AI-equipped surveillance cameras in the public streets, robo-cops.
  • Page 195: “An equality of oppression through total automated law enforcement”.
  • Page 195: “Extreme justice can turn out to be extreme injustice.”
  • Page 196: Most of our lives occur in a gray area. “Put simply, a world in which every law is always enforced would be a world in which everyone was a criminal.”
  • Page 214: “The most important decisions in life are made subconsciously and only express themselves consciously once fully formed.”
  • Page 232: “Publicly known” is what the government recognizes as publicly known. Leaks to journalists don’t count. ACLU could not hold the NSA and the government accountable.
  • Page 232: “The constitutional system only functions as a whole if and when each if its three branches works as intended.”
  • Page 247: The CIA signs a ten-year, $600 million cloud development and management deal with Amazon.
  • Page 248: Gus’ presentation of the CIA in a tech event in New York.
  • Page 248: “Technology is moving faster than government or law can keep up. It’s moving faster... than you can keep up.”
  • Page 249: Indoc: it is better to sell secrets to the enemy than to give them for free to a domestic reporter. The enemy is unlikely to share its prize even with its allies.
  • Page 258: “Stealing secrets,” I answered, and we laughed.
  • Pages 272-273: His method of encryption, a zero-knowledge key consisting of multiple zero-knowledge keys, distributed among different people/places.
  • Page 275: “But there’s always a danger in letting even the most qualified person rise too far, too fast, before they’ve had enough time to get cynical and abandon their idealism.”
  • Page 276: “The kind of confirmation you don’t get from documents but only from direct experience.”
  • Page 292: “Hello world”.
  • Page 292: Documentary: Citizenfour.
  • Page 329: Law vs technology. Technology develops more quickly and spans across borders.
  • Page 331: We are the first people in the planet to be burdened with data immortality. “We must ensure that these records of our pasts can’t be turned against us, or turned against our children.”
  • Page 332: “Once you go digging into the actual technical mechanisms by which predictability is calculated, you come to understand that its science is, in fact, anti-scientific, and fatally misnamed: predictability is actually manipulation. A website that tells you that because you liked this book you might also like books by James Clapper or Michael Hayden isn’t offering an educated guess as much as a mechanism of subtle coercion.”