I recently finished reading a couple books that are worth mentioning.
The first is Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. Don’t let the teen categorization discourage you, this is a book any technology geek will love. The best one line summary I can think of is that this book is a modern version of Nineteen eighty-four with the addition of a little teen rebellion. The story and characters are very well written and interwoven are decent introductions to important security techniques such as public key encryption and onion routing. Targetting this book at teen readers was a brilliant idea. I can’t think of a better way to help them understand what a security state would feel like.
The second book is Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu. No, this isn’t some kind of conspiracy theory book. The answer put forward by the authors is basically that territorial governments control the Internet despite the Utopian non-governmental ideal that many technologists associate with the Internet. The source of this control comes from the fact that governments are alone (mostly) in their ability to use physical coersion. While this in of itself isn’t that earth shattering I found the suggestion that online businesses such as eBay are reliant on the excercise of this coersive power very interesting. Even if the Internet isn’t that interesting to you this book is worth reading for the discussion of the role of government in commerce.