Intelligence Surveillance & Privacy

The Lawfare Podcast: The Hidden Alliance Between Tech and Government

Jack Goldsmith, Byron Tau, Jen Patja
Friday, March 8, 2024, 8:01 AM
What is surveillance capitalism?

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The practice of surveillance capitalism—the widespread private collection and commodification of personal data—is well understood. Less well understood is the extent to which the U.S. government purchases this data in the commercial marketplace to use it for intelligence and law enforcement purposes. 

Byron Tau, when he was a reporter with The Wall Street Journal, did more than anyone to bring this practice to public light. Jack Goldsmith sat down recently with Tau to discuss his new book on the topic, “Means of Control: How the Hidden Alliance of Tech and Government is Creating a New American Surveillance State.” They discussed how the private broker market works, why the government is able to purchase bulk private data with relatively few legal restrictions, and the threat to privacy and civil liberties that inheres in the practice. They also discussed why this form of data is so important to the government and the prospects for reform of the relatively unregulated practice.

Jack Goldsmith is the Learned Hand Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003.
Byron Tau is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter who specializes in law, courts, national security and the author of the book "Means of Control."
Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.

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