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The amount of personal data collected on ordinary citizens has grown steadily over the decades, and after 9/11, corporations that had been amassing this information largely for marketing purposes saw an opportunity to strengthen their ties with the government. But what do we really know about these data collectors, and are they trustworthy? O'Harrow, a Pulitzer finalist who covers privacy and technology issues for the Washington Post, tracks the explosive growth of this surveillance industry, with keen attention to the problems that "inevitable mistakes" along the way have created in mainstream society, from victims of identity theft who have been placed in financial jeopardy to travelers detained at the airport because of the similarity of their names to those of criminal suspects. O'Harrow gives the government's push for increased surveillance heavy play, but he effectively presents the story's many sides, as when he juxtaposes the perspectives of a Justice Department attorney, a civil liberties activist and Senator Patrick Leahy in the first chapter. His evenhanded account underscores the caveats of surveillance, as well-intentioned people can deploy technologies for all the right reasons only to see their apparatuses misused later on. This is a thought-provoking, comprehensive account that strikes the right balance between dismissive and alarmist. Agent, Amy Rennert. (Jan. 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews From Starbucks to the subway to the sidewalk, you are being watched....O'Harrow voices a clear concern over the ethics of such snooping...persuasively delineating how that information is abused and how unavoidable mistakes have profound consequences. A skillful chart of a surveillance society out of control. "No Place to Hide might just do for privacy protection what Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did for environmental protection. [O'Harrow's] is the work of a careful, thorough, enterprising reporter." -- William Safire, The New York Times Book Review "Today, we are constantly tagged, monitored, studied, sorted and tracked by a vast array of institutions and organizations -- private and public. As Robert O'Harrow, Jr., details in No Place to Hide, it is worse than we could ever have imagined. In this revealing book, O'Harrow makes clear that Americans need to think seriously about these issues now -- before it is too late for us to decide that we care." -- The Washington Post "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...an alarming vision of the future uncannily reminiscent of the world imagined by Orwell in 1984." -- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Once upon a time, people were worried about the futuristic world of 1984. According to O'Harrow's thought-provoking research, "Big Brother" is very evident in 2004. O'Harrow, a Pulitzer Prize finalist at the Washington Post, clearly articulates how American citizens are increasingly exposed to private and governmental forms of surveillance. Tracking the moves of private citizens is accomplished through a variety of seemingly routine data, such as detailed phone records, credit card purchases, cars with tracking systems, ATM purchases, automobiles with E-Z Pass, magnetic strip identification cards, and so on. Advanced technology surveillance has both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, many suspected terrorists have been detained, and law enforcement agencies are sharing information with one another. But increased surveillance imposes conformity, threatens civil liberties and individual freedoms, and introduces the uneasy feeling of constantly being watched. This timely, informative, and wonderfully written book on the subject is highly recommended for all libraries.-Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.