Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Encyclopedia of Privacy

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Encyclopedia of Privacy

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of Privacy William G. Staples, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007. 2 vols. 676 pp. $199.95.

Just a few years ago, privacy was an arcane topic of interest primarily to legal scholars and the courts; surveillance was for spies and the KGB; security cameras were infrequently spotted in supermarkets; and identity theftwas a myth. Anyone could waltz onto an airplane carrying whatever he chose to secret on his or her person, and this despite the problems that arose in the 1960s that resulted in the air marshal service with its armed protectors who secretly flew on various flights to forestall serious damage should an incident arise. For those with short memories or large reserves of skepticism, I offer the following anecdote: In the spring of 1993, on a commercial flight from Hong Kong to London, I was invited into the enormous cockpit on the second floor of the largest airliner in service. I spent 15 minutes observing the officers and their equipment as we flew past Calcutta. It was impossible to lock the cockpit door. Today, anyone, including infants and centenarians, is subject to TSA body searches; every cell phone call made is analyzed; workers are monitored; ubiquitous cameras record every move one makes on the streets of Manhattan, in stores, and most other locations (including, illegally, one's highrise apartment); and networked computer interactions are noted, recorded, collated, mined, and often abused by commercial entities and government agencies. Privacy, which Americans value as much as freedom, is a thing of the past. That is why it is possible to fill two large volumes with ideas, concepts, laws, cases, people, and other material legitimately related to privacy and its abrogation.

The Encyclopedia of Privacy contains 225 entries, ranging in length from less than a page to 14 pages, from 103 contributors including Mary J. Culnan, Judith Wagner Decew, Robert Gellman, Beth Givens, Gary T. …

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