Of Privacy and Power Cover

Of Privacy and Power

The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security

Henry Farrell and Abraham L. Newman

Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 2019, 248 pages

Book Review published on: August 23, 2019

Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Struggle over Freedom and Security is a detailed look at the friction points, actions, and steps taken by countries, substate actors, and stakeholders in the battle between security concerns and privacy issues in a number of global issues largely between the United States and European Union (EU) members.

This problem should be obvious to the learned reader: the challenges of global interaction between the security-conscious United States and the privacy-focused EU. At first glance, it would appear that the two monolithic entities just need to find some kind of middle ground and formulate a new policy, but authors Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman dig deep into the issues; they provide an analysis of how each player views the problem and identify how many substate actors are able to influence the state agencies by forming transnational alliances and going around their states’ policies.

The book has five chapters. The first chapter lays out the fundamental argument of the book: security versus privacy. Chapter 2 is a comprehensive account of the origins and implications of EU and U.S. policy positions. It also discusses all the diverse actors and potential transnational coalitions. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are the meat of the book. They address the major transnational issues of sharing airline passenger data, financial transaction data, and surveillance gathering. Each of these three chapters follows a similar format in the discussion of the original problem, governing policies, and how state and substate actors built coalitions in order to influence the new policies to work in their favor. The eventual outcomes are a result of complex coalition building and political maneuvering that result in numerous direction changes and usually wind up in favor of the security-focused United States. Each chapter has a summary conclusion at the end, which is helpful due to all the position changes that occur among the actors and issues.

Both Farrell and Newman are well versed in this area and their research is exceptional. I recommend this book for students of political science or international studies, especially those with a European focus.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. George Hodge, U.S. Army, Retired, Olathe, Kansas