'Little Brother' by Cory Doctorow
Published on Friday, June 14, 2013 - 5:35pm
In an age of pervasive surveillance of ordinary people by their own government, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is eerily relevant today. When the headlines warn of government agencies secretly monitoring the phone calls and Internet activities of millions of ordinary Americans we have to wonder, how far are we willing to trade freedom and privacy for security? At what point do the wiretaps, CCTV cameras and metal detectors become a greater threat to freedom than the specter of terrorism?
In this amazing YA Novel, Marcus aka “w1nst0n” is a tech-savvy 17-year-old with a knack for outwitting his high school’s intrusive administration. With real-life technology as a backdrop, Marcus is able to cleverly hack his way through school firewalls to chat with friends in class and fool security cameras with gait-monitoring software simply by slipping gravel into his shoes.
Marcus is able to evade detection and stay mostly out of trouble until a terrorist bomb explodes in his hometown. All of a sudden, the game changes as the Department of Homeland Security takes over and turns the city into a police state. Marcus and his friends spend time in a secret jail for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and when they emerge they find that no one is above suspicion. All citizens’ movements are monitored for criminal activity and all dissenters mysteriously disappear. What’s worse, the adults seem to be going along with it in the name of fighting terrorism! Marcus makes it his personal mission to take down the agency that turned his home into a prison and starts fighting back with the help of modern technology, teenage social networking and good old-fashioned rabble rousing.
This hacker adventure novel is a fun and realistic-feeling read for anybody interested in technology and privacy rights and anybody concerned by the erosion of civil liberties in the ongoing war on terror. Written by an editor of Boing Boing and former director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation it offers an insider’s look at the potential for technology to be used to both protect and take away the liberties enjoyed by a free country.