REVIEW: "Ben Franklin's Web Site", Robert Ellis Smith

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. BKBNFRWS.RVW 20031013

    "Ben Franklin's Web Site", Robert Ellis Smith, 2000, 0-930072-14-6,
    U$24.50/C$32.25
    %A Robert Ellis Smith
    %C P. O. Box 28577, Providence, RI 02908
    %D 2000
    %G 0-930072-14-6
    %I Privacy Journal
    %O U$24.50/C$32.25 401-274-7861
    %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0930072146/robsladesinterne
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0930072146/robsladesinte-21
    %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0930072146/robsladesin03-20
    %P 407 p.
    %T "Ben Franklin's Web Site"

    In the introduction, Smith notes that Americans are both (and
    simultaneously) interested in protecting their privacy, and very
    curious about others. This work is a social history of American
    thought and feelings about privacy. The chapters are not numbered,
    but named. There is an attempt to assign date ranges to periods of
    events and opinion, but this effort is pretty much exhausted by the
    time the book ends.

    "Watchfulness," from the late seventeenth to the early eighteenth
    century, notes an age of church based communities and close living.
    Fear of the government registration is suggested to be primarily based
    on anxiety about the fact that a low population (or other indicator of
    lack of wealth) would reflect badly on the locale (or locals).
    "Serenity" links geographic isolation with privacy, but mostly
    concentrates on early enumeration operations. The post office, more
    about the census, and the beginnings of information technology with
    Hollerith and Morse is in a chapter called "Mistrust." "Space"
    outlines the degradations of slavery, factories, and workhouses.
    "Curiosity" looks at gossip and the popular press.

    A chapter called "Brandeis" doesn't talk about him or his essay (with
    Warren in the Harvard Law Review) as much as the intellectual
    environment and subsequent debate. Another reviews decisions and
    government actions in regard to different types of surveillance. It
    is difficult to say what a chapter called "Sex" has to do with
    privacy, and it reuses a lot of material from "Serenity," "Curiosity,"
    and "Brandeis." "Torts" examines various lawsuits related to invasion
    of privacy. Politicking on the Supreme Court in cases possibly
    related to privacy populates a chapter called "Constitution."
    "Numbers," unlike "Census," discusses the improper use of the Social
    Security Number, as well as the concept of a national identity card.
    Credit reporting agencies are examined in "Databanks." "Cyberspace"
    touches on a number of Internet related topics. "Ben Franklin's Web
    Site" attempts to guess what Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac" would
    say about privacy, in pithy aphorisms: a kind of Poor Robert's list of
    privacy protecting guidelines.

    Smith's book is certainly an entertaining read, and does provide the
    occasional lost nugget of significant information on the development
    of thought in regard to privacy. It is, however, difficult to say how
    useful the work is for practical endeavours in pursuit of the
    protection of privacy, or development of current privacy policy.

    copyright Robert M. Slade, 2003 BKBNFRWS.RVW 20031013

    --
    ======================

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    Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Trevor, Jan 2, 2004
    #1
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