THE DIGITAL PERSON:
TECHNOLOGY AND PRIVACY IN THE INFORMATION AGE
by Daniel J. Solove
(NYU Press 2004)
Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, electronic databases are compiling information about you. As you surf the Internet, an unprecedented amount of your personal information is being recorded and preserved forever in the digital minds of computers. These databases create a profile of activities, interests, and preferences used to investigate backgrounds, check credit, market products, and make a wide variety of decisions affecting our lives. The creation and use of these databases–which Daniel J. Solove calls “digital dossiers”–has thus far gone largely unchecked. In this startling account of new technologies for gathering and using personal data, Solove explains why digital dossiers pose a grave threat to our privacy.
Digital dossiers impact many aspects of our lives. For example, they increase our vulnerability to identity theft, a serious crime that has been escalating at an alarming rate. Moreover, since September 11th, the government has been tapping into vast stores of information collected by businesses and using it to profile people for criminal or terrorist activity. In THE DIGITAL PERSON, Solove engages in a fascinating discussion of timely privacy issues such as spyware, web bugs, data mining, the USA-Patriot Act, and airline passenger profiling.
The Digital Person not only explores these problems but also provides a compelling account of how we can respond to them. Using a wide variety of sources, including history, philosophy, and literature, Solove sets forth a new understanding of what privacy is, one that is appropriate for the new challenges of the Information Age. Solove recommends how the law can be reformed to simultaneously protect our privacy and allow us to enjoy the benefits of our increasingly digital world.
“Solove is a law professor, and one of the few that truly understands the intersection of law and technology. This book is a fascinating journey into the almost surreal ways personal information is hoarded, used, and abused in the digital age.”
— Bruce Schneier, The Wall Street Journal
“[T]his book is so refreshing . . . it offers insights into the current state of privacy in America and some intriguing prescriptions for altering that state of affairs. . . . Anyone concerned with preserving privacy against technology’s growing intrusiveness will find this book enlightening.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“Solove’s book is the best exposition thus far about the threat that computer databases containing personal data about millions of Americans poses for information privacy. . . . Solove offers a conception of privacy that, if adopted, provides guidance about policies that would preserve information privacy as a social value.”
— Pamela Samuelson, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Information Management at U.C. Berkeley
“Daniel Solove is one of the most energetic and creative scholars writing about privacy today. The Digital Person is an important contribution to the privacy debate, and Solove’s discussion of the harms of what he calls ‘digital dossiers’ is invaluable”
— Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Unwanted Gaze
“A far-reaching examination of how digital dossiers are shaping our lives. Daniel Solove has persuasively reconceptualized privacy for the digital age. A must-read.”
— Paul Schwartz, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School