Database Nation

by Simson Garfinkel

O'Reilly & Associates, January, 2001.
Paperback, 336 pages.
ISBN: 0596001053

Database Nation by Simson Garfinkel Do you know who is looking at your credit file? Or who has access to all of your medical records? The numerous technological advancements which have resulted from the creation of continuously smaller microchips have an unfortunate downside: privacy has been sacrificed along the way. When the data discovered by these technologies is incorporated into detailed databases containing information about you it becomes alarming, especially if the information falls into the wrong hands, is used against you or causes you major grief because of a computer glitch. Database Nation reveals the potential privacy risks from these new technologies in a manner which is sure to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Some of the technologies and privacy issues covered include: iris scans, surveillance satellites, DNA identification, medical data, cell phones, genetic autonomy, intelligent computing, terrorism, video cameras and the Internet.

Author Simson Garfinkel, a high-tech entrepreneur and journalist, presents some of the worst-case scenarios that could come of these new technologies, as well as from technologies which already exist. His detailed and well-researched book also provides facts and insight into the ways databases containing information about you are used by companies, organizations and the government today. Although Garfinkel does take an alarmist tone, he backs up his facts. He alerts the reader to potential situations that will alarm and frighten even the most steadfast skeptic. Database Nation is a great reference for anyone who wants to become more familiar with emerging technologies in security and data collection and the problems and risks associated with them. It also provides solid historical coverage of privacy issues and their origins. Highly recommended.

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This review was published in the March, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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