The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality (Back to Basics)

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9781565843783: The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality (Back to Basics)

This work examines how vast amounts of personal information are finding their way into corporate hands. It argues that once there, this data can be combined and used to develope electronic profiles of individuals and groups that are potentially more detailed and intrusive.

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Review:

The End of Privacy is a book about power--more specifically, it discusses surveillance as a powerful mechanism of social control. Philosophers such as Jeremy Bentham and Michel Foucault developed the concept of the "panopticon," an ideal prison where compliance with rules is guaranteed through complete and inescapable surveillance. Applying the principles involved to real-world examples that trace the development of surveillance technologies from Second World War military intelligence to the electronic data-veillance of the information revolution, Whitaker provides a thorough analysis of how our society may be gradually approaching panopticism.

Thanks to dramatic technological advances, surveillance monitoring can now provide nearly global coverage, exposing the everyday lives of ordinary people--in the workplace, at school, on the Internet, everywhere--to serve public, private, and prurient interests. Today, Whitaker notes, private-information brokers amass databases for an innumerable variety of commercial purposes--from credit reporting to mass marketing. Vast amounts of detailed personal information, including seemingly useless minutiae, end up in corporate hands. Orwell's monolithic Big Brother has fragmented into a myriad of Little Brothers, which add up to a powerful system with little or no accountability. Who, Whitaker asks, watches the watchers? --Tim Hogan

About the Author:

Reg Whitaker is a professor of political science at York University in Toronto. He is the author (with Gary Marcuse) of Cold War Canada and has published widely on politics, security, intelligence, and informational power in the modern world.

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Reginald Whitaker
Published by New Press (1999)
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Whitaker, Reginald
Published by New Press (1999)
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