Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New book Patriotic Information Systems is not a fast read

Second in a series of reviews of recent books on the topic of government policies and their impact on personal privacy.

This second title is “Patriotic Information Systems,” by Todd Loendorf and G. David Garson, published by IGI Publishing.

The summary explains this book will discuss the inherent “bias” that status-quo IT security systems in the U.S. have toward grassroots and openly protected privacy concerns.

This is not a quick read. Its tone is academic, its approach is scholarly. The three main sections or chapters are: Bush Administration Information Policy and Democratic Values, The Dismantling of Public Information Systems after 9/11 (the decline of freedom of information) and finally, Security, Technology and Democracy.

For reasons that remain unclear, the authors really enjoyed diving into RFID (radio frequency ID) technology. The section on that technology is extensive and actually well-done. But its length is a bit disproportionate to the key questions of the book: namely is the IT system being implemented without adequate safeguards against invasion of privacy?

Its justification seems to have derived from the authors’ extensive research on the topic; too bad they did less explaining about RFID and more analysis of its likely impact.

The War on Privacy (book review)

This is the first of occasional reviews of books and Web content addressing the privacy discussion.

The War on Privacy. by Jacqueline Klosek

This late 2007 book addresses the misconception that assaults on privacy come only from the industrial/corporate side. Jacqueline Klosek’s “The War On Privacy” (published by Praeger Books) looks at the practices by government to target and collect personal information in the cause of the war on terrorism.

A central thesis of the book is that companies find themselves now caught between the government’s goal of increased surveillance and their customers’ concerns over invasion of privacy.

Regrettably, while that thesis is central to the big picture, Klosek wanders off topic for a broad and discursive view of privacy in a variety of countries and cultures. This is interesting, but not the discussion the book’s blurbs and title lead us to expect.