Database Nation : The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century

Database Nation : The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0596001053

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Fifty years ago, in 1984, George Orwell imagined a future in which privacy was demolished by a totalitarian state that used spies, video surveillance, historical revisionism, and control over the media to maintain its power. Those who worry about personal privacy and identity--especially in this day of technologies that encroach upon these rights--still use Orwell's "Big Brother" language to discuss privacy issues. But the reality is that the age of a monolithic Big Brother is over. And yet the threats are perhaps even more likely to destroy the rights we've assumed were ours.Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century shows how, in these early years of the 21st century, advances in technology endanger our privacy in ways never before imagined. Direct marketers and retailers track our every purchase; surveillance cameras observe our movements; mobile phones will soon report our location to those who want to track us; government eavesdroppers listen in on private communications; misused medical records turn our bodies and our histories against us; and linked databases assemble detailed consumer profiles used to predict and influence our behavior. Privacy--the most basic of our civil rights--is in grave peril.Simson Garfinkel--journalist, entrepreneur, and international authority on computer security--has devoted his career to testing new technologies and warning about their implications. This newly revised update of the popular hardcover edition of Database Nation is his compelling account of how invasive technologies will affect our lives in the coming years. It's a timely, far-reaching, entertaining, and thought-provoking look at the serious threats to privacy facing us today. The book poses a disturbing question: how can we protect our basic rights to privacy, identity, and autonomy when technology is making invasion and control easier than ever before?Garfinkel's captivating blend of journalism, storytelling, and futurism is a call to arms. It will frighten, entertain, and ultimately convince us that we must take action now to protect our privacy and identity before it's too late.












After all, your DNA pattern is uniquely yours. It determines your eye and hair color, the shape of your face, your sex, your race, and countless other characteristics that have come together in a unique pattern—you. How could you not own your own genetic pattern? Genetic patterns are certainly a thing worth owning—at least, some of them are. Locked away in the genetic patterns of some individuals are specific mutations from which biotechnology researchers can develop new medical tests and drugs. This is especially true of people with rare mutations—such as those people who can apparently smoke without getting cancer, or become infected with HIV without developing AIDS.

You don't dare talk about it for fear your parents will kick you out, so you become a liar yourself, hoping that by not showing who you are, you will not be rejected, not only by your parents but by your relatives. When I spoke to my brother who was adopted in roughly the same period I was, he confirmed that he also had somehow absorbed the impression that adoption was something that was absolutely unthinkable to talk to his parents about, although they had never told him anything of the sort. [29] One way that organizations such as NCFA have fought the issue of open records is by claiming that what adoptees are really after is reunion with their birth parents.

Thirty-four Years Later SEATTLE, 1999. I order a pair of white chocolate lattés, and hand my Mileage Plus First Card to the barista for payment. Although the drinks cost only $3 each, I'd rather charge the transaction than pay cash. By putting every single purchase on my credit card, I've managed to accumulate a balance of more than 50,000 frequent-flyer miles in less than a year—enough to buy my wife and myself a pair of round-trip tickets anywhere in the United States. Thirty years ago, the idea of a centralized computer tracking one's every purchase seemed like part of an Orwellian nightmare.

Epic. org/privacy/kids/EPIC_Testimony. html. [18] Ibid. , p. 338. Taking Direct Action against direct Marketing Take a moment to imagine our nightmarish future if direct marketing continues on its current path: You're planning a trip to New York City for Valentine's Day with your sweetheart. You call up your travel agent to make a reservation, then go out for lunch. When you return, you discover that your email inbox is filled. There are more than 5,000 restaurants in the Big Apple, and a third of them have sent you electronic coupons offering you 15% off your entrée if you visit them sometime during your big trip.

At many of those hearings, the star witness was Alan Westin. The professor attacked the industry for its cavalier attitude toward the accuracy of its information on consumers, and criticized its practice of giving out that information to practically anyone who asked for it—except the consumers themselves. But the biggest concern for both Westin and the lawmakers was that the coming wave of computerization would only make things worse. Unlike paper files, which must be periodically pruned, lest they become unmanageable, computers never need to forget.

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