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

“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.”