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

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    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 ellis84@rcn.com %C P. O.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2004
      BKBNFRWS.RVW 20031013

      "Ben Franklin's Web Site", Robert Ellis Smith, 2000, 0-930072-14-6,
      %A Robert Ellis Smith ellis84@...
      %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 orders@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0930072146/robsladesinterne
      %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

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to
      err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so
      experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings
      of that precious right. - Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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