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Privacy, Surveillance, and the New Media You

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Edward Lee Lamoureux

Very little in the American way of life functions adequately under surveillance.  Democracy itself may be at mortal risk due to the loss of privacy and the increase in surveillance.

Examining challenges in a wide range of contexts, this book investigates and critically examines our systems of data management, including the ways that data are collected, exchanged, analyzed, and re-purposed.

The volume calls for re-establishing personal privacy as a societal norm and priority, requiring action on the part of everyone at personal, societal, business, and governmental levels. Because new media products and services are professionally designed and implemented to be frictionless and highly rewarding, change is difficult and solutions are not easy. This volume provides insight into challenges and recommended solutions.

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Introduction

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We have known, for a very long time, about the foundational privacy principles in the era of computational data management. In relation to the collection, storage, and dissemination of electronically gathered information and records, fundamental objectives and procedures for protecting citizens’ privacy have been articulated with authority and regularity at least since 1973.

In that year, the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) issued a report by the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems titled Records, Computers, and the Rights of Citizens. At a time when electronic records were beginning to dominate the governmental scene, the report provided guidelines for federal agencies’ handling of electronic records and databases. The report cited a number of basic and definitional aspects of privacy:

Privacy is the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others. … [T]his is the core of the “right of individual privacy”—the right of the individual to decide for himself, with only extraordinary exceptions in the interests of society, when and on what terms his acts should be revealed to the general public. (Westin 1967: 7, 373, quoted in Records, Computers 1973: sec. 3) ← xvii | xviii →

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