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


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 407 pages
  • Publisher: Privacy Journal; First Edition edition (April 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930072146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0930072148
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delightful read for everyone in business, government, the legal professions, and academia who wants historical insights." >
"A superb account." -- Stanford Law Review

"A superb overview. The organization of the material is both novel and exceptionally helpful, both as a solid read on its merits, as well as a handy reference tool. The book is scholarly and intellectual enough to serve as an academic reference, but clear and simple enough in its presentation to reach a wider audience." --2007 "Writer's Digest" International Self-Published Book Awards competition

"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," 2000

"Interesting and illuminating." -- Computer Security Report, June 2004, Columnist Rebecca Herold

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

"Still the best and most readable all-purpose introduction to privacy history, policy and law" -- DM News, July 5, 2004, Columnist Robert Gellman

"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

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

"A superb account." -- Stanford Law Review

"Privacy Journal publisher Robert Ellis Smith tracks this history [of new inventions and privacy] in a fascinating and fact-filled journey." Wall Street Journal, June 2007

"A delightful read for everyone in business, government, the legal professions, and academia who wants historical insights." --Columbia University Privacy Expert Alan F. Westin

--2007 "Writer's Digest" International Self-Published Book Awards competition

"A delightful read for everyone in business, government, the legal professions, and academia who wants historical insights." --Columbia University Privacy Expert Alan F. Westin

"A superb overview. The organization of the material is both novel and exceptionally helpful, both as a solid read on its merits, as well as a handy reference tool. The book is scholarly and intellectual enough to serve as an academic reference, but clear and simple enough in its presentation to reach a wider audience." --2007 "Writer's Digest" International Self-Published Book Awards competition

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."

More About the Author

Publisher of PRIVACY JOURNAL newsletter since 1974; attorney; journalist.
Frequent speaker, expert witness, legislative witness.
Long recognized as international expert on privacy - medical and credit records, employment, electronic surveillance, Internet, email, genetics, student rights, Social Security numbers, biometrics, common-law right to privacy.
Based in Providence RI.

Since 2011, he has expanded his interests to include the people and the places of the islands of the world. See "The Magnetism of Islands," his latest book.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harry Hammitt on June 8, 2000
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Madsen on June 7, 2000
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Hoofnagle on March 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Robert Ellis Smith's _Ben Franklin's Web Site_ is the best book written on privacy (I've read a lot of them). Smith thoughtfully explores the nuances of Americans' conception of privacy in this book. I use Ben Franklin's Web Site frequently in my work, and think it's just wonderful that it's now in a 2nd printing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Acquisti on May 8, 2004
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Don Becker on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robert Ellis Smith colors the historical settings for the many pivotal developments, cases and treatise related to privacy. From a description of the Puritan "Tythingmen", who were charged with keeping their eyes on ten families (including the right to inspect the inside of homes), through Madison's early drafts of the First Amendment, forward all the way to the "DoubleClick" controversy, "Ben Franklin's Web Site" covers the myriad of privacy related issues with great elan.
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