Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.

  • I don’t usually read memoirs, but as the world becomes more focused on privacy and I become more interested in it, I felt this was a must-read.
  • This book starts off as a memoir, interspersed with primers on dealing with personal privacy in the modern (digital) world, and turns into a thriller about two-thirds in.
    • I would call it a true-crime thriller, weren’t it for the fact that the book does not deal with crime.

Notes Per Part


  • Ethical and moral principles that informed Snowden’s decision to blow the whistle.
  • “What makes a life? More than what we say; more, even, than what we do. A life is also what we love, and what we believe in.”
  • Early days of the internet.
    • Creative and cooperative > commercial and competitive. The former is a situation where goodwill and good feelings outweigh any conflict that might happen.
  • Internet of today is markedly different. This changes has been a conscious and systematic effort of a privileged few. Companies put themselves in the middle of social exchanges and try to turn them into profit.
    • Beginnings of surveillance capitalism.
    • In a sense, any (non-commercialised) personal website can be seen as a resistance to the above.
  • “The freedom of a country can only be measured by its respect for the rights of its citizens, and it’s my conviction that these rights are in fact limitations of state power that define exactly where and when a government may not infringe into that domain of personal or individual freedoms that during the American Revolution was called “liberty” and during the Internet Revolution is called “privacy”.”
    • I would extend this definition to also include commercial interests (as opposed to public interest).
    • “In the span of those [six] years, however, this decline [in the commitment to privacy] has only continued as democracies regress into authoritarian populism. Nowhere has this regression been more apparent than in the relationship of governments to the press.”
    • Very US centric.

Part One

Chapters 1-10.

Part Two

Chapters 11-18.

Part Three

Chapters 19-29.