Book Title:

The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age (Hardcover)
by Daniel J. Solove

Editorial Reviews:

From Publishers Weekly

When one surveys the myriad ways that personal information can be snatched from individuals through electronic means, it’s easy to feel gloomy about the prospects for privacy in the Information Age-which is why this book is so refreshing. Although it sometimes reads like a legal brief-author Solove (Information Privacy Law) is an associate law professor at George Washington University Law School-it offers insights into the current state of privacy in America and some intriguing prescriptions for altering that state of affairs.

Contrary to popular notions that “Big Brother” is destroying privacy, Solove argues that the withering of privacy can, in large measure, be attributed to indifference. “The privacy problem created by the use of databases stems from an often careless and unconcerned bureaucratic process,” he writes, “one that has little judgment or accountability… We are not just heading toward a world of Big Brother, but to a world that is beginning to resemble Kafka’s vision in The Trial.”

Solove contends that existing methods for protecting privacy fail to fulfill their purpose because they depend on individuals remedying situations that they don’t even know exist. Solove’s call for systematic change is compelling, as are his ideas for revamping society’s information-gathering architecture. “Changing our relationships with bureaucracies can’t be achieved through isolated lawsuits,” he argues. “We need a regulatory system, akin to the ones we have in place regulating our food, environment, and financial institutions.”

Anyone concerned with preserving privacy against technology’s growing intrusiveness will find this book enlightening. – Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description

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. For each individual, 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.

THE DIGITAL PERSON not only explores these problems, but 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.

From the Publisher

“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 and The Naked Crowd

“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 documents not only how ongoing advances in information technology is increasing this threat significantly, but also how governmental uses of private sector databases and private sector uses of governmental databases are further eroding the privacy-by-obscurity protection of yesteryear. Most importantly, 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 the University of California, Berkeley

“A must-read. THE DIGITAL PERSON is a far-reaching examination of how digital dossiers are shaping our lives. Daniel Solove has persuasively reconceptualized privacy for the digital age.” – Paul Schwartz, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

About the Author

Daniel J. Solove is an associate professor of law at the George Washington University Law School. He has been interviewed and quoted by the media in over 50 articles and broadcasts, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Week, PC World Magazine, Toronto Star, Boston Herald, Denver Post, the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, and National Public Radio. He is the author (with Marc Rotenberg) of Information Privacy Law. He has published nearly 20 articles and essays, which have appeared in many of the leading law reviews, including the Stanford Law Review, Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, Duke Law Journal, among others.