In this book review of Simon Garfinkel's "Database Nation: The death of privacy in the 21st century," the author echoes George Orwell's prophetic vision of a totalitarian government prying on citizens' privacy in "1984." However, Database Nation presents a future where privacy has become a costly commodity: individuals fight dearly to hold such privacy from prying eyes. From the history of information age to advocating privacy protection legislations, the author discusses how Garfinkel pieces together the forming of the database nation. From health care providers to credit bureaus and from satellite surveillance to consumer purchasing habits, Garfinkel urges readers to reflect on three issues: first, think about the concept of consent when giving out those blanket authorizations. Second, at what cost does the computer technology bring in lack of securing individual privacy. Third, he suggests the resurrection of the Office of Technology Assessment created by President Nixon. In all, Garfinkel attempts to educate his readers that the public can elect representatives through the democratic process who will strike the appropriate balance between technology and privacy in shaping the future of our country.
Robert S. Gurwin, Database Nation: Does Information Technology of the 21st Century Pose a Daunting Threat to Personal Privacy in America, 19 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 197 (2000)