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Ben Franklin's Web Site: Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet Paperback – Jun 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Privacy Journal (June 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930072146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930072148
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,263,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"A historical and anecdotal style that should appeal to readers of all kinds, from the casually curious to the legally sophsticated." -- The Federal Lawyer, August 2000 (Attorney Jeremiah S. Gutman)

"An all-fact fiesta. A must-read. To enhance your beach-reading experience, Smith does a fabulous job of explaining... -- Seattle Weekly

"His numerous books are required reading for anyone concerned about the ongoing threats." -- Simson Garfinkel, in Database Nation, published by O'Reilly, 2000

"Robert Ellis Smith's expose of privacy invasion will be one of the sleeper best-selling books in the year 2000." -- William Safire, columnist, The New York Times, December 30, 1999

"The most practical of [the new privacy books], with its mix of readable history and sensible advice on what to do about your own privacy." -- Wall Street Journal (Robert Templer) Oct. 30, 2000

"an engaging and exhaustive historical survey" -- Reason magazine, October 2000

"will appeal to anyone with a casual or deep interest; manages to cover a lot of familiar topics..." -- Robert Gellman,

From the Author

"In the course of writing and publishing a monthly newsletter about the right to privacy, I have practiced the advice attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "Go out and see for yourself. Make others see what you've seen." This book is the product of that endeavor. Since 1974 when I began publishing Privacy Journal newsletter, writing books on the subject, and advocating increased recognition of the right to privacy, I have been accumulating lots of files. In one of those folders marked "History of Privacy," I kept items like the one about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover complaining about clandestine sex in the motor courts of the 1930s. Then I found an intriguing observation from the French humorist Paul Blouet late in the Nineteenth Century about the typical American, "Meeting you in a railway carriage, he will ask you point blank where you are going, what you are doing, and where you are from. By degrees, he grows bolder." At that point I formed the idea for a book on the history of privacy. But this story is about more than privacy. (Secretly, I have long felt that Americans are a little bit nervous about the subject - and probably reluctant to read a whole book about privacy.) Nearly all other books about privacy assume that this is a positive value shared by all Americans. I'm not sure that it is. Our feelings about personal privacy - our privacy and everyone else's - are ambivalent. To understand why, you have to look to all aspects of our culture. When you do, you discover that we value our curiosity more than our privacy."

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ben Franklin's Web Site is a wonderful book - clear, detailed, engaging, hype-free.
So many books have been published on the topic of privacy (especially in recent years). Robert Ellis Smith has written one of those rare pieces that offer a balanced view and provide a truly broad approach to privacy's multifaceted issues. Smith covers historical, philosophical, technological, and legal aspects of the privacy debate, current threats, as well as the relations between privacy and the economic environment. His material is presented in a story-like, chronological order full of interesting anecdotes that grip the attention. Reading this book was a delight.
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Format: Paperback
With more than 25 years of experience writing on privacy issues in his newsletter, Privacy Journal, Smith has written a clear, readable history of privacy in America that weaves the various threads of and threats to privacy together in a well-documented fashion. From Americans' insatiable curiosity to the tabloid press, from mistrust of the census to the endless collection of personal information we face today, Smith examines it all thoroughly and cogently. Certainly the best book on privacy I have read. Highly recommended both for those who know something about the area already and those who would like to know more.
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Format: Paperback
Robert Ellis Smith brings the privacy debate back home and to an understandable level in "Ben Franklin's Web Site : Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet." Many privacy books dwell on obscure legal cases that bore the reader to a near state of torpidity. Not so with Mr. Smith's common sense descriptions and explanations of privacy issues throughout the American experience. Aside from giving the reader the ability to understand the importance of privacy in a number of critical facets, this book is just plain fun to read.
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