American Spies

JENNIFER STISA GRANICK

“To date, it is the best single book I have read for understanding the breadth of the U.S. government’s surveillance operations.” — Professor Christopher J. Coyne, George Mason University

"American democracy cannot survive modern surveillance."

Newsletter Signup

U.S. intelligence agencies—the eponymous American Spies—are exceedingly aggressive, pushing and sometimes bursting through the technological, legal and political boundaries of lawful surveillance. Written for a general audience by a surveillance law expert, this book educates readers about how the reality of modern surveillance differs from popular understanding. Weaving the history of American surveillance—from J. Edgar Hoover through the tragedy of September 11th to the fusion centers and mosque infiltrators of today—the book shows that mass surveillance and democracy are fundamentally incompatible. Granick shows how surveillance law has fallen behind while surveillance technology has given American Spies vast new powers. She skillfully guides the reader through proposals for reining in massive surveillance with the ultimate goal of surveillance reform.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Granick fights for civil liberties in an age of massive surveillance and powerful digital technology. As the new surveillance and cybersecurity counsel with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, she litigates, speaks, and writes about privacy, security, technology, and constitutional rights. Granick is the author of the book American Spies: Modern Surveillance, Why You Should Care, and What To Do About It, published by Cambridge Press and winner of the 2016 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize.

Granick spent much of her career helping create Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. From 2001 to 2007, she was Executive Director of CIS and founded the Cyberlaw Clinic, where she supervised students in working on some of the most important cyberlaw cases that took place during her tenure. For example, she was the primary crafter of a 2006 exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows mobile telephone owners to legally circumvent the firmware locking their device to a single carrier. From 2012 to 2017, Granick was Civil Liberties Director specializing in and teaching surveillance law, cybersecurity, encryption policy, and the Fourth Amendment. In that capacity, she has published widely on U.S. government surveillance practices, and helped educate judges and congressional staffers on these issues. Granick also served as the Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation from 2007-2010. Earlier in her career, Granick spent almost a decade practicing criminal defense law in California.

Granick’s work is well-known in privacy and security circles. Her keynote, “Lifecycle of a Revolution” for the 2015 Black Hat USA security conference electrified and depressed the audience in equal measure. In March of 2016, she received Duo Security’s Women in Security Academic Award for her expertise in the field as well as her direction and guidance for young women in the security industry. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore) has called Granick an “NBA all-star of surveillance law.”

Video

American Spies and Jennifer Granick @ TEDxStanford

Mozilla April Speaker Series featuring American Spies and Jennifer Granick

CPDP 2017 Panel organized by Member of EU Parliament Marietje Schaake: One week after Trump: what can we do to protect the open internet?

Cato Institute Surveillance Conference 2016

Does privacy have a future?

Learn more about Jen's 2015 keynote

In the early days of the public internet, we believed that we were helping build something totally new, a world that would leave behind the shackles of age, of race, of gender, of class, even of law. Twenty years on, “cyberspace” looks a lot less revolutionary than it once did. Hackers have become information security professionals. Racism and sexism have proven resilient enough to thrive in the digital world. Big companies are getting even bigger, and the decisions corporations not just governments make about security, privacy, and free speech affect hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people. The Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers are driving online policy as governments around the world are getting more deeply involved in the business of regulating the network. Meanwhile, the Next Billion Internet Users are going to connect from Asia and developing countries without a Bill of Rights. Centralization, Regulation, and Globalization are the key words, and over the next twenty years, we’ll see these forces change digital networks and information security as we know it today. So where does that leave security, openness, innovation, and freedom?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is being used to weld the hood of cars shut to keep engine software safe from mechanics. Will we still have the Freedom to Tinker even in the oldest of technologies? What does it mean that the U.S. is a big player in the zero-day market even as international agreements seek to regulate exploit code and surveillance tools? Will we see liability for insecure software and what does that mean for open source? With advances in artificial intelligence that will decide who gets run over, who gets a loan, who gets a job, how far off can legal liability regimes for robots, drones, and even algorithms be? Is the global Internet headed for history’s dustbin, and what does a balkanized network mean for security, for civil rights?

In this talk, Granick discussed the forces that are shaping and will determine the next 20 years in the lifecycle of the revolutionary communications technology that we’ve had such high hopes for.