The Year in Privacy Books 2009

Here’s a list of notable privacy books published in 2009.  For last year’s list, click here.

privacy2009-laneFrederick S. Lane, American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right (Beacon Press 2009)

My blurb: “Frederick Lane’s American Privacy is a highly readable history of the right to privacy in America. It brings to life the people, debates, and events that have shaped our current protections of privacy.”

privacy2009-nissenbaumHelen Nissenbaum, Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford 2009)

My blurb: “This book provides a refreshing, contemporary look at information privacy in the twenty-first century. Nissenbaum persuasively argues that privacy must be understood in its social context, and she provides an insightful and illuminating account of how to do so. For anyone considering the burgeoning problems of information privacy, Privacy in Context is essential reading.”

privacy2009-sukJeannie Suk, At Home in the Law: How the Domestic Violence Revolution Is Transforming Privacy (Yale 2009)

Suk’s book explores the concept of the home through the lens of law and the humanities.  In the process, she examines domestic violence, privacy, burglary, takings, due process, feminism, and more.  Suk critiques law in a literary and cultural manner, and her work is interesting, nuanced, and provocative.

privacy2009-matwyshynAndrea Matwyshyn (editor), Harboring Data: Information Security, Law, and the Corporation (Stanford 2009)

Matwyshyn’s book focuses on data security, and it contains essays from a really top-notch group of experts.   It explores data security breach notification laws, as well as the security of various kinds of data (trade secrets, patents, financial, health, children’s information).  The book also nicely weaves together several disciplines — law, business, and technology.

privacy2009-kerrIan Kerr, Carole Lucock, and Valerie Steeves (editors), Lessons from the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society (Oxford 2009)

Ian Kerr and his fellow editors have collected a terrific group of essays about privacy and identification.  Froomkin, Raab, Nissenbaum, Chandler, and many others have contributed to this volume.  This is a great book.

privacy2009-clarkRoss Clark, The Road to Big Brother: One Man’s Struggle Against the Surveillance Society (Encounter Books 2009)

A fun examination of Britain’s CCTV system, which consists of 4.2 million surveillance cameras, as well as other forms of monitoring.  Clark weaves together personal anecdotes and interesting facts in this short and humorous book.  An enjoyable read.


NOTE: I must mention a pet-peeve of mine.  A few of the books above could have been improved if the books contained citations.  Although I greatly enjoyed Lane and Clark’s books, I found their lack of notes to be quite frustrating.  This seems to be a trend with commercial presses — having authors forgo any citations whatsoever.  While endnotes are slightly distracting, their benefits far outweigh this cost.  They are especially helpful to check the accuracy of facts and research as well as to locate sources for further research.   Even in non-scholarly books, notes are valuable and should not be excluded.

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3 Responses

  1. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Great list! I share the lament on curtailed endnotes in commercially-published books. One thing among others showing the decline of the book publishing profession from its erstwhile integrity, alas.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Interesting point about the lack of notes in commercial books. Always behind the curve, I was still lamenting that academic presses seem more and more often to think that endnotes are a substitute for a full bibliography.

    Notes and bibliography perform different functions: it’s maddening to have to read through all notes seriatim (retro sensu) just to find out what “J. Rosen, Unwanted Gaze, 200″ means. One purpose of a list of references is to to help the reader quickly to determine what kinds of sources the author considered, and what sources he or she failed to notice or think significant; another is to make it easy to find full citation information for the references on which the author did rely. (A side benefit is that the notes can be compressed, using a “Rosen 2000a” kind of format.)

    If a book doesn’t have a list of references, at least the index should be collated to the notes as well as to the main text. And at a minimum, the notes should have full bibliographical information about the edition of each book consulted, instead of just citing to year of publication.

    Any background information to share, Dan, on why Harvard wouldn’t spring for any of the above in Understanding Privacy?

  3. Kevin Kim says:

    Great list – thanks! I did purchase some of those books, and particularly like “Privacy in context.” I’ll certainly check out other books too. Thanks again!