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am 27. Februar 2000
Why every American? Because, as Garfinkel points, out Europeans are better protected than we are. In every way, on virtually every page of the book, Garfinkel shows not only how our private information is being used without our knowledge, consent, or ability to correct it, but how it is being associated. In fact, I would argue that his collection of details of how the smallest pieces of your personal, financial, medical, and employment history can be connected easily by businesses to deny you credit, a job, or insurance makes the strongest case for regulation.
The kind of regulation Garfinkel argues is necessary - and which mirrors existing laws in the EU that American companies flaunt over the Web in their dealings with EU citizens - would provide the right kinds of control and redress for citizens without requiring government involvement and ownership of data.
(One of the odd recurring points in the book is that Garfinkel views it as a missed opportunity that a monolithic data center wasn't built in the 60s to collate all individual information. I see his point, but imagine if Nixon had that resource at his disposal? Even without it, he had people's tax returns pulled. I may, perhaps, misunderstand Garfinkel's message there, as he felt a central storage point would have provided a nationwide opt-out control for individuals and the use of their data by any company.)
It's fascinating reading and a relatively quick read for a nonfiction title. As I read it, I had prickles at the back of my neck as I discovered how my own information is being used without my knowledge. (Ever heard of the MIB? Not Men In Black - read the book...it's almost as insidious.)
Database Nation paints a picture of the dangers of leaving our lives in data in the hands of business instead of our own hands. Hopefully, technology and policy will meet politics for a solution described in his book providing the kind of ownership and rights we need.
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