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WideOpenNews: "Database Nation" Gives the Scoop on Privacy [Book Review]

Mar 06, 2000, 20:09 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Satya Kuner)

"Brain wiretapping. Elevators that identify and trap criminals. New friends that turn out to be computers. According to 'Database Nation,' a new book by Simson Garfinkel, these strange and frightening scenarios are only the beginning of what the unsuspecting public has to fear from privacy invasion."

"The privacy issue creates an interesting opportunity for open source applications. As Garfinkel points out, software's hidden features aren't always written with the interests of the end user at heart. But sneaking suspicions can be dispelled easily enough when the source code is readily available. 'The good thing about open source is that you can inspect the source code to see if it has anti-privacy features,' says Garfinkel. 'If you want, you can take them out.' "

"If there's one social message in 'Database Nation,' it's to take control of your privacy. Garfinkel does a good job of supplying readers with laws and facts that illuminate how consumers can take action to protect their privacy, and includes plenty of dramatic anecdotes to cut up the dry bits. Some of these tales almost tip the paranoia scale -- a chapter on terrorism seems to come out of left field -- but the wealth of good information makes up for it."

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