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Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age


I am now offering the full text of my book The Digital Person:  Technology and Privacy in the Information Age (NYU Press 2004) online for FREE download.

Published in 2004, this book explores the social, political and legal implications of the collection and use of personal information in databases.  I use the term “digital dossiers” to describe the reams of personal information collected by businesses and government agencies a– about our activities, interests, purchases, preferences, reading, hobbies, and so on.  These dossiers are being used to make decisions that affect our lives and pose a grave threat to our privacy.   Incorporating history, literature, and philosophy, I examine  the rise of digital dossiers and explore the nature of the problems they cause. I argue that although the use of digital dossiers can create Orwellian harms of surveillance, they often create a different kind of problem best captured by Franz Kafka’s The Trial — a sense of helplessness, vulnerability, and frustration when entities use vast dossiers of data but refuse to provide people with sufficient knowledge and participation in the use of the data.

Does the book still hold up more than a decade later?  Please read it and judge for yourself.

Table of Contents

Chapter  1. Introduction


Chapter 2. The Rise of the Digital Dossier

Chapter 3. Kafka and Orwell: Reconceptualizing Information Privacy

Chapter 4. The Problems of Information Privacy Law

Chapter 5. The Limits of Market-Based Solutions

Chapter 6. Architecture and the Protection of Privacy


Chapter 7. The Problem of Public Records

Chapter 8. Access and Aggregation: Rethinking Privacy and Transparency


Chapter 9. Government Information Gathering

Chapter 10. The Fourth Amendment, Records, and Privacy

Chapter 11. Reconstructing the Architecture

Chapter 12. Conclusion


Click here to access the full text online for free.


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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics.  Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn.  His blog has more than 1 million followers.

Privacy+Security ForumProfessor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz of the Privacy + Security Forum (Oct. 4-7, 2017 in Washington, DC), an annual event that aims to bridge the silos between privacy and security. 

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