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Book Review: No place to hide – by Glenn Greenwald.

Dumani Mandela

 

If you have ever wanted to know about the true nature of security and the internet and the phone calls you make on a daily basis then this book is a must have. The book forwards the idea that much of the communication we think is secure ranging from our phone calls to our emails to our online profiles is actually being monitored by a security organization known as the National Security Agency in the US. The book starts off with a riveting read about how the journalist Glenn Greenwald first met Edward Snowden the leaker about the NSA in a clandestine manner in Hong Kong. The book forwards the idea that the NSA attempts to keep tabs on global telephony and internet companies at the expense of personal security for many. The book the gets extremely boring and technical with many pages being dedicated to the nature of the surveillance techniques that are being used by the NSA. According to the book Snowden was an employee of the NSA whom downloaded secret information on the work on the NSA for public consumption. Further detailed information about Snowden on Wikipedia says the following. “Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American computer professional, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee, and former contractor for the United States government who copied and leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 without authorization. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.
In 2013, Snowden was hired by an NSA contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, after previous employment with Dell and the CIA. On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii, and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill. Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Further disclosures were made by other publications including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.
On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property. Two days later, he flew into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, but Russian authorities noted that his U.S. passport had been cancelled and he was restricted to the airport terminal for over one month. Russia ultimately granted him right of asylum for one year, and repeated extensions have permitted him to stay at least until 2020. He reportedly lives in an undisclosed location in Moscow, and continues to seek asylum elsewhere in the world”.
I think if I were to be really critical, I would recommend the first seventy five pages of this book and then I would skip the rest if one wants to know the gist of the content. The rest of the book is neither interesting nor fun to read after page 75 and gets caught up in the technicalities of ‘security’ monitoring that is being done by the NSA on a global scale. For Africans whom are constantly using American platforms online to communicate and to socialise I think this is an important book to read to awaken people to the idea that their communication is not secure along with their personal information. The idea of course remains if people will be interested that their personal information is being monitored and to a large degree the conversation about cyber-security in Africa has not caught on like it has in the west where people are concerned about privacy concerns online. In the west cyber-security is a national concern especially with the emergence of a fourth state, which is an unmonitored and legally unconfined government secret security apparatus in the NSA. This book is carries a pressing message especially for developing nations about their ability to protect the privacy of its citizens and somewhat guarantee national sovereignty. As we saw with the Arab Spring the campaigns to topple the northern African governments were promulgated through the Internet. This raises serious security concerns for nation states in Africa over how the Internet is used and for what purposes and who is mandated to monitor it. I would recommend this book for any conscientious Internet and telephone user whom is concerned about personal and national security of their country and person from the Internet and phone companies that are being used in their countries. With the recent hacking of the African Union by China after China donated computers to the African union, it is imperative that African states look at security of their communications as a continental concern if their want to maintain their sovereignty.

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