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Sample of "Privacy: Past, Present and Future"

Chapter One


"The two greatest demands a free people places on its government are easily stated. Firstly, keep us safe. Secondly, leave us alone. At first blush, this appears to be an oxymoron. How can we cede sufficient authority to the government to guarantee our national security, while still preserving our private lives? In fact, this has been the great experiment of the United States of America.


This conflict of needs has been with us since the beginning. Our constitution says that the government must collect private information about its citizens to fairly apportion representation and taxes. The Declaration of Independence assures us that we have the inalienable right to be left in peace to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


This book is about how these two great promises can be resolved, how we got where we are today, and where we may go in the future. The ideas are immediately relevant to everyone who wants both liberty and protection, and to everyone who wants the same things for their children.


As a privacy specialist with 30 years' experience at the National Security Agency, I've heard all the jokes and fears about the government spying on its citizens. But in fact, the real threat today comes from a different and perhaps unexpected direction. It is the commercial world that is spying on you for the most part, using cyberspace to collect your most intimate personal details in giant nets as though you were one small fish in a never-ending harvest. The reason is simple, and it has nothing to do with morality or with your rights as a citizen. Countless billions of dollars are at stake.


What can we do? Is the intrusion of privacy into our private lives unstoppable? Do we just have to accept the mining of our health and financial data and the tracking of our children as the inevitable consequence of progress? And does it really matter? Is the very notion of privacy outdated, an idea that seems anachronistic to our children, an aging trope that's destined for the scrap-heap along with dancing the Charleston and fighting by Marquis of Queensbury rules?


Let's start the journey, and see what we can find out."

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