Surveillance or Security?

Surveillance or Security?

The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies

By Susan Landau

How, in the name of greater security, our current electronic surveillance policies are creating major security risks.





How, in the name of greater security, our current electronic surveillance policies are creating major security risks.

Digital communications are the lifeblood of modern society. We “meet up” online, tweet our reactions millions of times a day, connect through social networking rather than in person. Large portions of business and commerce have moved to the Web, and much of our critical infrastructure, including the electric power grid, is controlled online. This reliance on information systems leaves us highly exposed and vulnerable to cyberattack. Despite this, U.S. law enforcement and national security policy remain firmly focused on wiretapping and surveillance. But, as cybersecurity expert Susan Landau argues in Surveillance or Security?, the old surveillance paradigms do not easily fit the new technologies. By embedding eavesdropping mechanisms into communication technology itself, we are building tools that could be turned against us and opting for short-term security and creating dangerous long-term risks.

How can we get communications security right? Landau offers a set of principles to govern wiretapping policy that will allow us to protect our national security as well as our freedom.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262015301 400 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 figures


$21.95 T ISBN: 9780262518741 400 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 figures


  • Landau's well-researched writing is a superb resource for the citizen who wants to be an informed participant in the civil rights debate that is succinctly summarized in the title.

    Hilarie Orman

    IEEE Cipher

  • An extremely important book. Landau has the remarkable talent of taking very broad issues and detailing them in a concise, yet comprehensive manner…This book is the definitive text on the topic and it is a title that needs to be read.

    Ben Rothke


  • By carefully explaining the ways in which excessive surveillance can undermine security, this informative and provocative book turns on its head the traditiona—and misleading—assumption that national security and civil liberties must always be balanced against each other, as if they were mutually exclusive objectives on opposite sides of the scale. Landau demonstrates a rare and extremely valuable combination of both technical expertise and policy savvy, and the material is presented in way that is accessible for the general public yet specific enough to guide policymakers in Congress and the Executive branch—for whom it should be required reading. I have been working in the national security arena for over 25 years, and following cybersecurity issues for nearly 15 years, and still found in this book fresh insights and new information that will make a valuable contribution to the important policy debates at the intersection of privacy and security.

    Suzanne E. Spaulding

    Bingham McCutchen, LLP; former Assistant General Counsel, C.I.A.; former Executive Director, National Commission on Terrorism

  • Governments have been trying to control the Internet since the early 1990s, when they realized that it would change everything and they didn't understand how. Much of the 1990s was spent on the Crypto Wars, as governments tried to control surveillance online. One of the veterans, Susan Landau, gives us a perspective on where the battle lines are now and where surveillance is likely to go in the future.

    Ross J. Anderson

    Professor of Security Engineering, University of Cambridge

  • Susan Landau has taken an exceptionally complex but vital subject and presented it in a clear and compelling way. The ability of a citizen to securely communicate with her peers lies at the heart of the rule of law. Landau demonstrates the necessity of protecting that right amidst the technological changes that can greatly alter the balance of power between citizens and governments.

    Jonathan Zittrain

    Professor of Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University; author, The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It


  • 2012 Surveillance Studies Book Prize, given by the Surveillance Studies Network