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World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing Hardcover – April 12, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0471218166 ISBN-10: 0471218162 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471218162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471218166
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The warning bell about our rapidly disappearing privacy is sounded again albeit none too stridently in this study of new technologies and their impact. Hunter, a vice-president at Gartner's Research organization, a business technology consulting group, wants to sketch out how the omnipresence of computers affects every last centimeter of modern human existence. His first chapter, "Why Won't They Leave Me Alone?" is most to the point, asking, on the subject of Internet commerce, "Is the convenience of being known everywhere worth the risk of being known everywhere?" More worrisome than having a digital signature follow you everywhere online he uses the example of's ability to remember things you've bought or even just looked at is the ubiquity of surveillance in public and private spaces. One chapter addresses the tracking of cars, relating the story of a man who was fined $450 for driving his rental car over the speed limit. It wasn't the police that caught him it was a global positioning satellite system in the car. From there, Hunter assays such subjects as the Open Source debate (over making the source codes of commercial operating systems and applications available to the public) and Internet crime. While each of the chapters is useful by itself, Hunter's thesis gets progressively fainter as the book goes on. Very little is resolved by the end of this less-than-groundbreaking study, but it may still be interesting for those new to the subject. (May)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Search for any book at and you will see a list of books that "customers who bought this book also bought." The technology that delivers this information is called data mining and it gives a competitive edge. It's part of an increasingly common phenomenon whereby literally everything we do is being watched and recorded to the point where anyone can find out anything about anybody. Hunter, director of security research at Gartner G2, poses the question, Is a "world without secrets" more scary than before and when is it all too much? In our desire for convenience, we voluntarily give away much of our privacy. Our credit cards, smart cars, and smart homes constantly spew out information about our actions. Cameras and facial recognition software were used recently at the Superbowl. Hunter points out that the ability to mine data gives power to those who own the data. When the government owns our data, Big Brother becomes a reality--"a complex, demanding and dangerous place, but not Hell." David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Linda Zarate on April 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's ironic that I just finished reading a book about customer relationship management CRM) in which all of the elements are needed in order to implement and effectively use CRM are the same elements that this book exposes are threats to us as individuals. This book is chilling for a number of reasons, but the top ones (in my opinion) are:
(1) As an IT professional I am involved in CRM (customer relationship management), which has a goal of knowing your customer and providing individualized service - this requires knowing your customers and collecting data. After reading this book I had to step back and think about the impact on privacy and customer rights. This is a Catch-22 situation wherein providing high levels of service requires a great deal of data, but the same data eats away at privacy.
(2) The array of technologies to gather information, including those that have migrated from the intelligence community into business and/or law enforcement, further chip away at privacy. This is exacerbated by laws passed and national attitudes since September 11. Privacy and freedoms are interrelated, so these technologies, combined with laws and attitudes pose a threat to our freedom as well.
(3) Attitudes, business imperatives and social evolution are merging to change the entire social fabric of our way of life - and we are active participants in some aspects, and in other aspects we are facilitating this change. The ways we are doing that is through willingness to accept changes that are detrimental to privacy, and/or the pursuit of meeting business imperatives and competitive advantage without fully examining the long term ramifications.
What I like is the way the author thoroughly and systematically addresses the threats to our privacy, freedom and well being.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ben Rothke on May 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, summed up the privacy debate with his now famous remark of "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it". In World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous, author Richard Hunter spends 300 engrossing pages corroborating McNealy's observation.
The reality is that with advancements in computing and networking, personal privacy slowly gets chipped away, and as Hunter sees it, will ultimately deteriorate. Hunter details in each chapter how the age of ubiquitous computing, where everything short of the food we eat has a network address, can be monitored. Such technological advances creates a world where everything is known and all information is available; a world without secrets.
World Without Secrets takes a look at the implications that we are now facing with technology. A cynical reader may think that the author is no more than a Chicken Little for the digital age; yet in page after page, and chapter after chapter, Hunter details examples of how technology can be both innocuously used and offensively manipulated, resulting in the potential for huge privacy breaches.
While most books on privacy and information focus on how corporations use and misuse personal data, World Without Secrets adds an interesting twist and provides insights into what Hunter calls Network Armies; which are groups of virtual communities, sharing a similar goal. Hunter sees these Network Armies as starting points in the digital revolution.
The only downside to the book is that while Hunter does not provide any type of answer or resolution on how to better enable privacy in the digital age. Perhaps there is no answer.
World Without Secrets presents a new look at the issues of privacy and technology.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book when it first came out and then recently read an insiteful, positive interview with the author of World Without Secrets in the Sunday New York Times. My feelings about the subject matter in the book were similar to that of the reviewer.
Interestingly, the article and the book cover lots of privacy issues concerning Issues that everyone who buys a product on Amazon (or anywhere online) should be aware: especially the policies of sharing information about customers with companies that want to sell goods and services to us (junkmail!) Of course, other companies are discussed, which, in the end just frightens us even more about the amount of information about each of us that is so readily accessible to anyone who wants it.
The NY Times reviewer states: "Mr. Hunter is right to argue that if Americans aren't involved in resolving these (privacy) issues, the issues will be resolved without them." Hunter says:"The amount of electronically stored data about individuals is massive, detailed, and growing. We don't yet know how to manage a world in which everything can be linked to me, wherever I am."
With his background as a top security expert, Hunters words will shake up any beliefs you may have left that ANYTHING is private anymore.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wapati on August 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are a few books out there that make you think. John Dewey's "How we think", Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and a book on the history of IP by an Australian writer whose name and book title elude me at the moment are three books that have stimulated my thoughts. This book would be the fourth.
It could be that I'm a "shallow Hal" but I have to agree with the other review on the point the author raised in connection with Herbert's "Dune".
As we gather more information and as Sandisk (or someone like them) begins to offer terabyte storage to the everyday consumer, we will see more tracking.......and I fear, that in conjunction with XML, ......knowledge will increase.
Read the later part of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament to see what I am referring to. Next, go to the Maxwell Air Force base website and look up their link page to critical thinking. Take a while to learn some things about critical thinking and then read this section in Daniel and this book by Hunter.
McNealy is right. The frogs are already in the pot (loss of privacy) and most will never notice that they are being boiled until it's too late.
Hunter has done us a favor by raising this issue in the manner that he did.
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More About the Author

Richard Hunter is vice president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner, Inc., where his recent work has focused on matters of interest to CIOs. Hunter is the author of "World Without Secrets: Business, Crime and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing" (Wiley&Sons, NYC, 2002), "IT Risk: Turning Business Threats Into Competitive Advantage" (Harvard Business Press, Boston, 2006), and "The Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value" (Harvard Business Press, Boston, 2009), the latter two works with co-author George Westerman. He is in much demand as a speaker and advisor to CIOs.

Mr. Hunter was elected a Gartner Fellow in 2003. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Harvard University. He is a world-class harmonica player who continues to compose and perform; his first book, "Jazz Harp" (Oak Publications, NYC) has been in continuous print since 1980, and is the world's best-selling method for jazz and rock harmonica players.