Privacy: A Manifesto

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Princeton University Press, 2008 - Law - 140 pages
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What ever happened to privacy? The simple right to be left alone? Surveillance cameras track our movements. Governments monitor our phone calls, e-mails, and Internet habits. Insurance companies know what drugs we take. Banks and credit agencies keep tabs on our smallest purchases. And new technologies--which gather, store, and share information as never before--have made all of this possible.

But, as the acclaimed social thinker Wolfgang Sofsky shows in this brief and powerful defense of privacy, neither technology nor fears of terrorism deserve all the blame. Rather, through indifference and the desire for attention, we have been accomplices in the loss of our privacy. When we aren't resigning ourselves to privacy's disappearance as the inevitable price of living in a new age, we are eagerly embracing opportunities to divulge personal information to people we know--and, increasingly, to people we don't.

Dramatically demonstrating how much privacy we have already surrendered, Sofsky describes a day in the life of an average modern citizen--in other words, a person under almost constant scrutiny. He also briefly traces the changing status of privacy from ancient Rome to today, explains how liberty and freedom of thought depend on privacy, and points to some of the places where privacy is under greatest threat, from health to personal space.

Privacy is a timely and compelling reminder of just how important privacy is--and just how devastating its loss would be.

 

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Contents

Traces
1
Power and Privacy
11
Retrospectives
23
Freedom and Privacy
30
Territories of the Self
36
Secrets of the Body
49
Private Spaces
65
Property
79
Information
94
Freedom of Thought
109
NOTES
131
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Wolfgang Sofsky lehrte als Professor fur Soziologie und Anthropologie an den Universitaten Gottingen und Erfurt. Seit 2000 arbeitet er als Privatgelehrter, Essayist und Kommentator. 1993 erhielt er den Geschwister-Scholl-Preis. Seine Bucher wurden in uber zehn Sprachen ubersetzt. Sein Blog ist zu finden unter: www.wscaprichos.wordpress.com

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