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No Place to Hide First Edition (US) First Printing Edition

36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1566430654
ISBN-10: 0743254805
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Editorial Reviews Review

George Orwell envisioned Big Brother as an outgrowth of a looming totalitarian state, but in this timely survey Robert O'Harrow Jr. portrays a surveillance society that's less centralized and more a joint public/private venture. Indeed, the most frightening aspect of the Washington Post reporter's thoroughly researched and naggingly disquieting chronicle lies in the matter-of-fact nature of information hunters and gatherers and the insatiable systems they've concocted. Here is a world where data is gathered by relatively unheralded organizations that smooth the way for commercial entities to find the good customers and avoid dicey ones. Government of course too has an interest in the data that's been mined. Information is power, especially when trying to find the bad guys. The mutually compatible skills and needs shared by private and public snoopers were fusing prior to the attacks of 9/11, but the process has since gone into hyperdrive. O'Harrow weaves together vignettes to record the development of the "security-industrial complex," taking pains to personalize his chronicle of a movement that's remained (perhaps purposefully) faceless. Recognizing the appeal of state-of-the-art systems that can track down a murderer/rapist with heretofore unimaginable speed, the author recognizes, too, that the same devices can mistakenly destroy reputations and cast a pall over a free society. In a post-9/11 world where homeland security often trumps personal liberty, this work is an eye-opener for those who take their privacy for granted. --Steven Stolder

From Publishers Weekly

The amount of personal data collected on ordinary citizens has grown steadily over the decades, and after 9/11, corporations that had been amassing this information largely for marketing purposes saw an opportunity to strengthen their ties with the government. But what do we really know about these data collectors, and are they trustworthy? O'Harrow, a Pulitzer finalist who covers privacy and technology issues for the Washington Post, tracks the explosive growth of this surveillance industry, with keen attention to the problems that "inevitable mistakes" along the way have created in mainstream society, from victims of identity theft who have been placed in financial jeopardy to travelers detained at the airport because of the similarity of their names to those of criminal suspects. O'Harrow gives the government's push for increased surveillance heavy play, but he effectively presents the story's many sides, as when he juxtaposes the perspectives of a Justice Department attorney, a civil liberties activist and Senator Patrick Leahy in the first chapter. His evenhanded account underscores the caveats of surveillance, as well-intentioned people can deploy technologies for all the right reasons only to see their apparatuses misused later on. This is a thought-provoking, comprehensive account that strikes the right balance between dismissive and alarmist.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743254805
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566430654
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
You've rented a car to drive from Connecticut to Virginia. You head south on I-95, but at times, your speed creeps up to 80 mph like many of the drivers around you. Finally, you stop to buy gas but your credit card is rejected at the pump. The reason? The company who rented you the car has been monitoring your driving in real time. Not only that, they've fined you three times, at $150 per violation, for speeding, and already deducted it from your credit card. Sound impossible? It's not, and Robert O'Harrow's NO PLACE TO HIDE describes how car rental companies can do it, and have already done it.

Perhaps you have never heard of Acxiom, Seisint, ChoicePoint, HNC Software, TransCore, Searchspace, and Verint? Well, that's just the way those companies want it. And they are just some of the companies who know all about you - your name, address, and social security number, every place you've ever lived, your credit histories, who your friends are, what you say and do on the Internet, where you travel, even your faces, fingerprints, and DNA. In the interest of catching terrorists and preventing terrorism, federal and local law enforcement agencies have increasingly turned to these companies for help - all conveniently situated outside the privacy laws and Patriot Act restrictions and free to collect virtually any information they can lay their hands on. The result is a boom in the "total information awareness" business that is creating a world of commercial "big brothers." It is a world about which most Americans are blissfully, and foolishly, unaware.

Faster machines, bigger databases, more networking, and microminiaturization to the level of flea-sized RFID chips and "smart dust" will only make these systems more and more pervasive.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By L.Ray on January 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
No Place To Hide is a crucial and essential book to read for an eye opening factual account of data collection and privacy issues all Americans face. Mr. O'Harrow has written a book with meticulous attention to details, facts and reveals the main players involved with the collection of data of every aspect of daily American lives and how that data is being supplied to any government agency that cares to purchase it.

O'Harrow exposes the serious issue of private data technology companies and their marriage to government agencies, a marriage that is thriving while unchecked and ungoverned by guidelines or laws to protect every American's basic right to Privacy.

This book leads one to formulate the question "Is giving up my basic rights to privacy and living in a unrestricted, constantly growing complex of surveillance, data collection and selling of that data to any government agency going to make my life a more secure and safe one?

No Place To Hide is a concise and frighteningly revealing book that all Americans should read. O'Harrow arms us with an inside look at a growing partnership between private industry and government that needs to be controlled. A book that should remind all American's that we do have a voice in our Government and that we have serious Privacy and Civil Liberty issues at hand that we need to address as a nation.

E. Ray
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mindspeakr on January 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
O'Harrow's book reads like a riveting spy novel. The stakes are high. How can America catch terrorists before they strike again? How can government help Americans feel safe in these uncertain times? The answer, according to powerful, self-styled, selfless techno-patriots is to buy their technology - lots of it - and records that have been amassed by commercial data brokers on every single American with details on the most intimate aspects of our lives ranging from where we live, where we bank, what we buy and how we like our sex - records that are often fraught with mistakes that finger innocents as criminals, deadbeats or worse.

It's a kind of science fiction nightmare where J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy have been reincarnated into big business seeking to profit off the fears of the post 9/11 world - only it's real, it's revolting and the politicians and bureaucrats are often complicit. If the techno-patriots are going to save us from the next Mohamed Atta, who's going to save us from them? Can they really do it, or is it all smoke and mirrors in the name of profiteering? Are there alternatives that are better, faster, more cost effective, reliable and less intrusive? Sadly, these questions are the cliff hangers that go unanswered in O'Harrow's thought provoking book. There is no protagonist - only a bunch of characters - often seedy - who are out to convince America that you'll be safer if government can peek at your knickers on demand.

In a year where the U.S. will begin to implement Intelligence Reform legislation, the Patriot Act is up for review, and deficits are at all time highs to fight the war on terror, No Place to Hide is particularly timely. O'Harrow sets the table beautifully - it's up to every reader to decide whether America can stomach the meal being served. This is a mandatory read for policymakers and anyone who cares about what it means to live in America.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By barbre on March 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a software developer I found most of the information in this book to be something less than earth shattering. Basically, there are companies that specialize in data mining as much information on us as they can. The present administration is drooling over the possibility to use this information. A large percentage of the information stored in the databases is in error. That's pretty much the book. Should we be concerned? Yes, but not of the information existing because its mostly public information anyway that is being linked in creativie ways. I'm not an advocate for this by any means but I'm not terribly fearful of it either. What does concern me, and should you, is how much of the information is wrong and how difficult it is to get these companies to fix it. To me, that was the greatest point the book made.

As for government spying. We know now that the government is surveying us in much greater and more Orwellian ways than we would have thought possible. Unfortunately, this is what I wanted to learn more about and is pretty much missing from the book. Also, there is no "solution" provided. How can we protect ourselves?

Mainly, I was disapointed be because every person mentioned in the book has a drawn out biography provided about them. I really didn't care how the CEO of a data mining company grew up. I wanted to learn about the subject of the book, not history of indivuals.

Its not a bad book, but I grew tired of the biographies and the content didn't surprise me or frighten me enough to be real impressed.
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