Image - the speaker and detail from his book cover
Image - the speaker and detail from his book cover

Byron Tau: The U.S. Surveillance State's Hidden Alliance of Tech and Government

“That evening, I was given a glimpse inside a hidden world. . . . An entirely new kind of surveillance program—one designed to track everyone.”

Hear a tale of strange bedfellows—the U.S. government, data brokers, tech companies and advertisers—involved in shaping the surveillance state and privacy.

For the past five years—ever since a chance encounter at a dinner party—journalist Byron Tau has been piecing together a secret story: how the whole of the internet and every digital device in the world became a mechanism of intelligence, surveillance, and monitoring.

Most people are somewhat aware that our modern world is awash in surveillance. But Tau says the true potential of our phones, computers, homes, credit cards, and even the tires underneath our cars to reveal our habits and behavior would astonish most citizens. All of this surveillance has produced an extraordinary amount of valuable data about every one of us. That data is for sale—and the biggest customer is the U.S. government.

In the years after 9/11, the U.S. government, working with scores of anonymous companies, many scattered across bland Northern Virginia suburbs, built a foreign and domestic surveillance apparatus of breathtaking scope—one that can peer into the lives of nearly everyone on the planet. This cottage industry of data brokers and government bureaucrats has one directive—“get everything you can”—and the result is a world in which defense contractors have marketing subsidiaries and marketing companies have defense contractor subsidiaries. And the public knows virtually nothing about it.

Reporter Byron Tau joins us for a special online-only talk to tell you—and probably the government—what he has learned.

Image - Byron Tau

Byron Tau

Reporter, Allbritton Journalism Institute and Means of Control: How the Hidden Alliance of Tech and Government Is Creating a New American Surveillance State; X@ByronTau

Image - Rachel Myrow

In Conversation with Rachael Myrow

Senior Editor, KQED’s Silicon Valley News Desk; X @rachaelmyrow