I spoke with‘s Andrew Leonard about writing Dragnet Nation, Edward Snowden, and the marketplace for privacy. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Why did you write this book?

I’ve been on this beat for four years. I wrote the book because I felt that all my stories were really scary — they are tracking you here, they are tracking you there — but they weren’t actionable; in other words, people couldn’t figure out what to do about it. I was hopeful a book could provide some advice.

What was it like to be working on the book when the Snowden bombshells started to fall?

I still remember where was I standing when the first Snowden revelation about the Verizon secret order for the phone dragnet came out. My whole world was just turned upside down. I had been chasing that story because I had heard that that it was true. A lot of people that followed this issue had suspected it was going on, but no one had ever seen the proof. It was just mindboggling to see how vast it was. And then what happened after that, the continual flow, I mean even to this day, every week, there has been a new revelation.

Read the full interview, along with a review of Dragnet Nation, on

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