No Place to Hide

(Via Privacy Digest) The New York Times reviews Robert O’Harrow’s new book No Place to Hide: Behind the Scenes of Our Emerging Surveillance Society:

…Mr. O’Harrow provides in these pages an authoritative and vivid account of the emergence of a “security-industrial complex” and the far-reaching consequences for ordinary Americans, who must cope not only with the uneasy sense of being watched (leading, defenders of civil liberties have argued, to a stifling of debate and dissent) but also with the very palpable dangers of having personal information (and in some cases, inaccurate information) passed from one outfit to another.

Mr. O’Harrow also charts many consumers’ willingness to trade a measure of privacy for convenience (think of the personal information happily dispensed to TiVo machines and in exchange for efficient service and helpful suggestions), freedom for security. He reviews the gargantuan data-gathering and data-mining operations already carried out by companies like Acxiom, ChoicePoint and LexisNexis. And he shows how their methods are being co-opted by the government…

Sounds like an important book, but I still prefer Daniel Solove’s conceptualization of modern privacy threats as most resembling Frank Kafka’s The Trial versus the Orwellian metaphor O’Harrow seems to embrace.

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