My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Many thanks to the publisher, the author and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for a free and unbiased review.
Information Security, privacy are the buzz words today. The entire technology industry swears by it and provides heartfelt promises that your data is private, its yours, they are just the keepers of that data and do not monetize it in any way, shape or form. Ironical don't you say when in today's world, the company's net worth is determined by how much access it has to the user's data.
The world was left stunned by Edward Snowden. The programs exposed by Snowden which impinges on the privacy of the people was not just all encompassing but overreaching in itself. Nothing was considered sacrosanct and there was no definition of private. It is on this premise that Eisner's novel starts off on.
Now NSA has been vilified, tried in the media and viewed with suspicion by the entirety of the world. Nobody trusts when the NSA says it does not peek into your private data or PII (personally identifiable information). It is always taken with a pinch of salt. In this novel too NSA has designed backdoors into almost all the systems in the world and processes that information real time. The only level of security is the fact that processing of that data is in parts, takes time to analyze and nobody has a clear picture except for the NSA director the top boss - General Theodore Anders and his second in command General Mike Remar. They have implemented The God's Eye - a program using which the NSA can access into real time feeds from every camera around the world and there is only one person in charge for monitoring the data: Evie Gallagher.
The good General also has in his back pocket two troubleshooters who resolve any problems that arise when there is a threat of exposure for The God's Eye View - Thomas Delgado and Marvin Magnus. One a narcissist psychopathic killer and the other a deaf trained assassin with loyalty to only the director.
The brainwashing or inculcation of Magus reminded me of another book The Brotherhood of Rose by David Morrell which dealt with the similar situation where a man called Eliot get the unflinching loyalty of two orphan boys whom he treats like his sons and trains as assassins with undivided loyalty to only him.
I read the book in chunks, I could never finish this in 1-2 settings as I generally do with my other books because quite frankly this one scared me the shit out of me. I am from the tech industry and have a modicum of understanding about technology and what is espoused here is something that is doable as the author backs it up with the data in the footnotes.
The idea that somebody is always peeking over my shoulder and seeing what I am doing online is scary, now put that person over your shoulder 24 X 7 X 365 and the person real, the picture that emerges is very, very frightening.
It is true that 9-11 changed the way security agencies think, the threat level was high but the paranoia and the sheer scale of the data collection effort that these agencies embarked on is unprecedented. Nothing was sacrosanct and nothing was considered out of bounds. The only thing that is protecting the entirely of the population that is digital right now is that the time taken to analyze such data is longer as we do not yet have the necessary machine learning capabilities, but the keyword here is YET.
It is a dodgy world out there the digital espionage with no oversight and minimal controls over those doing the spying. This has all the hallmarks of a lit powder keg and when it goes Kaboom it is gonna be royal mess...