Monday, May 17, 2010

A Basic History of Privacy in the US

Frederick S. Lane's American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009) is a basic historical overview of privacy debates and perspectives in the U.S. Lane reviews the evolving notions of privacy, considers the implications of the emergence of communication networks (the postal system, the telegraph and telephone, the Internet), political and social campaigns about the protection of privacy (including ample discussion about various federal statutes), the impact of certain documentary forms on the notion of privacy (postcards, photographs, and credit cards), and so forth. Lane's analysis demonstrates our proclivity to give up our privacy when it seems convenient to do so. This is a useful text.

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