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American Privacy

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  5 reviews
An examination of privacy and the evolution of communication, from broken sealing wax to high-tech wiretapping

A sweeping story of the right to privacy as it sped along colonial postal routes, telegraph wires, and even today’s fiber-optic cables, American Privacy traces the lineage of cultural norms and legal mandates that have swirled around the Fourth Amendment since its
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Categories: Privacy, Technology, History
Time Period: Colonial era-present
Major Influences: Brandeis and Warren, E.L. Godkin, Arthur L. Miller, Alan Westin

Argument Synopsis
Lane defines privacy as a function of an individual's ability to determine what information will be shared with others and under what circumstances it will be shared. He shows how Americans' ability to exercise this type of control has deteriorated throughout our country's history -- sometimes because of government or corporate
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frederick Lane's American Privacy is insightful, informative, and imminently readable. After a relatively brief introduction discussing some modern issues relating to privacy, Mr. Lane's book follows a primarily chronologically the development of the concept of personal privacy in America from the Colonial Era, through the American Revolution, the Industrial Age, the Civil War, the World Wars, the Cold War and the then-current War on Terror. Within this mostly chronological framework, the author ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent historical overview of the evolution of the legal concept of privacy along with the technological innovations that drive it. We don't think of the inherent lack of privacy in telegraph messages or the prohibition against opening our mail. The book was written pre-Snowden so I am certain the conclusions might have been different now that we know the extent to which the government has completely eroded our privacy. ...more
Ryan Ballard
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great overview of the history of privacy in American law. I found the last couple of chapters on the rise of computers and data mining and the effects on personal information most interesting. One of his central observations is that the The internet has increased the amount of public information a person is willing to share, the geographical spread of that information, the value of one piece of information due to the ability to aggregate, and the economic value of such information to the platfor ...more
Seth Garrison
Interesting read. Poor scholarship. With a two page long "selected" bibliography and no footnotes or citations, this author's claims are virtually impossible to fact check. Replete with interesting but ultimately tangential historical events that the author does not link to privacy concerns in any direct or abstract way (e.g. a significant foray into the history of the development of the invention and implementation of the US Census Bureau's electronic counting machine).

It would be helpful if a
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine request 3 23 Feb 22, 2012 11:32AM  

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Frederick S. Lane is an author, attorney, expert witness, and lecturer who has appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. After graduating from Amherst College and Boston College Law School, Lane clerked for two years for the Honorable Frank H. Freedman, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. After practicing law for five years and writ ...more

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