E P I C A l e r t
Volume 10.13 June 25, 2003
Published by the
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y G E O R G E O R W E L L !
 Birthday Greetings
 Selections from EPIC Advisory Board
 Orwell and Language
 Orwell and Commercialism
 Orwell on Poverty and Inequality
 Orwell on Perpetual War
 EPIC Bookstore: Rise of the Computer State
 Birthday Greetings
Dear Mr. Orwell,
Greetings on your 100th Birthday! You might be gratified to know that
a new generation of readers have a growing interest in your writing.
Your insights resonate as never before in these times.
We take this occasion to share some of our personal reflections on
themes you brought attention to, including language, commercialism,
inequality, and war. The theme of surveillance is notably missing; we
hope interested readers of the EPIC Alert might contribute a 1000 word
essay on the subject and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions
will be edited and posted on our website.
The EPIC Team
 Selections from EPIC Advisory Board
Philip E. Agre
The dramatic improvements in the underlying technology are hardly
speculative. We know what technologies are in the lab, and we know
roughly how long it will take before those technologies reach the
market. We are therefore justified in extrapolating historical cost
trends into the foreseeable future. The capabilities of the technology
in the next couple of decades are hardly in doubt.
Nor can there be much doubt about the potential for abuse. We have
abundant precedents from other technologies, and the burden is really
on the person who would argue that automatic face recognition in
public places will be an exception to these precedents. Databases will
leak, technologies will exhibit function creep, information will be
diverted to secondary uses, law enforcement will make use of
technologies originally designed for other purposes, repressive
governments will make use of technological advances pioneered in
relatively free societies, and people’s lives will be disrupted by
quality control problems in the data. The argument here is not that
automatic face recognition in public places will turn society into
Orwell’s 1984 overnight, or at all. The harms from automatic face
recognition will develop slowly because the technology will not be
deployed instantaneously, and because institutions change slowly. But
the danger is great enough, and backed up by enough history and logic,
and will be hard enough to reverse if it does materialize, that we are
justified in acting now.
Your Face Is Not a Bar Code: Arguments Against Automatic Face
Recognition in Public Places, May 5, 2003,
Today, individuals provide substantially the same identifying
information to each organization with which they have a relationship.
In a new paradigm, individuals provide different “pseudonyms” or
alternate names to each organization. A critical advantage of systems
based on such pseudonyms is that the information associated with each
pseudonym can be insufficient to allow data on an individual to be
linked and collected together, and thus they can prevent the formation
of a dossier society reminiscent of Orwell’s “1984”.
A system is proposed in which an individual’s pseudonyms are created
and stored in a computer held and trusted only by the individual. New
cryptographic techniques allow an organization to securely exchange
messages or payments with an individual known under a
pseudonym–without the communication or payments systems providers
being able to trace messages or payments. Other new techniques allow a
digitally signed credential to be transformed by the individual, from
the individual’s pseudonym with the issuing organization, to the
individual’s pseudonym with a recipient organization. Credentials can
be transformed only between pseudonyms of a single individual, and an
individual can obtain at most one pseudonym with a particular
organization, but even a conspiracy of all organizations can gain no
information from the pseudonyms about their correspondence. The
combination of these systems can prevent abuses by individuals, while
averting the potential for a dossier society.
A New Paradigm for Individuals in the Information Age, 1984
IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, April 29 – May 02,
Each week that passes sees one more strand of the web completed. Every
strand is woven delicately, and we are told each time that the effort
is all for our benefit. True, every strand catches another tax dollar
or snares another criminal. But every strand binds honest citizens
more tightly to the administration of government…Your finances,
purchases, employment, interests, telephone activity and even your
geographical movements are losing their anonymity. Not everything will
be bad, however; technology will bring wonderful possibilities. It
will also bring the nightmare of total nakedness.
Big Brother: Australia’s Growing Web of Surveillance
(Simon & Schuster 1992)
David H. Flaherty
There appears to be a consensus against a totalitarian society or a
police state, because of the regrettable precedents for each. All of
us shudder at living in the fictional worlds of George Orwell’s “1984”
or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. At what point does
surveillance become unacceptable, whether by private detectives, the
police, or welfare and taxation authorities? At what point does
surveillance actually take place, when data are collected or when they
are used? The shaping of appropriate answers is the concern of this
entire volume. Officials privacy protectors have a basic role to play
in crafting society’s answers to these questions, in part because
government created their agencies in order “to protect privacy,” but
also because since data protectors were first established, problems of
surveillance have become more severe owing to the exponential growth
in automation. The questions did not admit a one-time solution.
Protecting privacy in Surveillance Societies: The Federal
Republic of Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and the United
States (University of North Carolina Press 1989)
Public policy deliberations about privacy in Congress, or the spectre
of the much feared “1984” and the dominance by “big brother,” can be
seen to be linked closely to increases in the number of citizens who
are concerned about privacy. A question that asked respondents to
indicate how close had come to the society that George Orwell had
described in his book 1984 found the proportion who though that we had
already arrived at such a society to have more than doubled between
1983 and 1988 and to have trippled between 1983 and 1989 (from 6
percent to 19 percent). p.140.
The Panoptic Sort (Westview Press 1993)
Extensive, undesired observation–what may be called “surveillance”–
interferes with this exercise of choice because knowledge of
observation “brings one to a new consciousness of oneself, as
something seen through another’s eyes.” Simply put, surveillance leads
to self-censorship. This is true even when the observable information
would not be otherwise misused or disclosed.
Information collection in cyberspace is more like surveillance than
like casual observation. As explained above, data collection in
cyberspace produces data that are detailed, computer-processable,
indexed to the individual, and permanent. Combine this with the fact
that cyberspace makes data collection and analysis exponentially
cheaper than in real space, and we have what Roger Clarke has
identified as the genuine threat of dataveillance.
Information Privacy in Cyberspace Transactions, 50 Stan. L.
Rev. 1193, 1261 (1998)
Gary T. Marx
In considering current developments and trends in the study of social
control, I have suggested the idea of the “maximum security
society”with clear indebtedness to Bentham and Foucault I have found
it useful to note some parallels between control themes found in the
maximum security prison and the broader society. The maximum security
society is made up of six subcomponents: the engineered, dossier,
actuarial, suspicious, self-monitored, and transparent societies.
George Orwell equated Big Brother with the harsh reality of a boot on
a human face. The concept of the maximum security society is meant to
characterize some softer social-control processes that have increased
in importance and sophistication in recent decades, as the velvet
glove continues to gain ascendancy over the iron fist. In contemporary
society these forms of control are uncoupled and the former is clearly
dominant-using the creation and manipulation of culture through the
mass media, therapeutic and labeling efforts, the redistributive
rewards of the welfare state, the use of deception (e.g., undercover
techniques and informers), and the engineering away of infractions.
The Engineering of Social Control: The Search for the Silver
Bullet Published in J. Hagan and R. Peterson, Crime and
Inequality (Stanford University Press 1995)
George Orwell once wrote that “[g]ood prose is like a window pane.”
What I take Orwell to have meant by that remark is that when people
read good prose, it makes them feel as if they’ve `seen’ something
(whatever the author was trying to convey) more clearly. Put another
way, if a writer can induce his or her reader to feel that the reader
would have come to the same conclusion that the author reached had the
reader done his or her own investigation of the subject matter, the
writer has achieved a kind of “window pane” effect on the reader.
Good Legal Writing: of Orwell and Window Panes, 46 University
of Pittsburgh Law Review 149, Fall 1984,
Paul M. Schwartz
George Orwell carried out the classic analysis of how surveillance can
exert this negative pressure. In the novel 1984, first published in
1949, Orwell imagined a machine called the “telescreen.” This
omnipresent device broadcasted propaganda on a nonstop basis and
allowed the state officials, the “Thought Police,” to observe the
populace. Computers on the Internet are reminiscent of the telescreen;
under current conditions, it is impossible to know if and when the
cyber-Thought Police are plugged in on any individual wire. To extend
Orwell’s thought, one can say that as habit becomes instinct and
people on the Internet gain a sense that their every mouse click and
key stroke might be observed, the necessary insulation for individual
self-determination will vanish.
Privacy and Democracy in Cyberspace, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 1609,
Numerous articles were written in 1984 boasting about how the world
had escaped Orwell’s dire predictions of governmental surveillance and
the elimination of privacy. Many people rejoiced about the lack of
omnipresent telescreens and the Thought Police, but far fewer people
paid attention to the development of technologies that facilitate Big
Brother-style surveillance. Most U.S. citizens feel that we are all
protected by the Bill of Rights from secret governmental surveillance.
Unfortunately, that has not always been the case historically, nor is
it necessarily true today; worse, it may be still less true in the
future if we fail to be continually on guard against creeping
governmental intrusion into our private lives.
Building Big Brother, Information Impacts Magazine, February 2000,
Robert Ellis Smith
We should remember that the laureates of the cybernetic nightmare–
Kafka, Orwell, Huxley–were in fact rebelling against impersonal
bureaucracies more than computerization. The anti-utopias in George
Orwell’s “1984,” Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We,” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave
New World: are _bureaucratic tyrannies_, not necessarily _computerized
Our Vanishing Privacy and What You Can Do to Protect Yours
(Loompanics Unlimited 1993)
 Orwell and Language
“Total Information Awareness of transactional threats requires
keeping track of individuals and understanding how they fit into
models.” – U.S. Department of Defense
The labeling of government methods of surveillance has taken an odd
turn in the United States. As if officials were ever sensitive to
Orwell’s warning in 1984 about the use of language to conceal
intent, recent naming exercises have adopted a strategy that might
almost satisfy the requirements of a truth in labeling law.
Consider “carnivore,” the FBI’s code name for a new system of
Internet surveillance that would enable the capture of messages
moving across the network. Carnivore was chosen, internal
governments reveal, to make clear that the techniques was selective:
only the court-authorized evidence would be obtained. A separate
program under consideration “omnivore” lacked the critical
judgment and was rejected.
Before Carnivore, the FBI described the system to wire surveillance
capability into the telephone network as “operation root canal.” The
pain of the project is palpable.
This history takes us then to the proposal from the Office of
Information Awareness, which reminds us in a nod to Orwell that
“knowledge is power,” to undertake “Total Information Awareness.”
The intent is clear. The government must know everything about
everyone. Where the data exists, it should be captured. Where it
does not yet exist, it should be produced. Models of human behavior
must be developed. Techniques to distinguish the abnormal from the
normal devised. Your tax dollars at work.
But public opinion did not favor these proposals. Carnivore got a
makeover. It became “DCS 1000.” No change in functional capability,
just a new designation in government memos and on powerpoint slides.
And the creature of the Office of Information Awareness was also
scrubbed clean. An investment in the acronym “TIA” was preserved.
The program renamed “Terrorist Information Awareness,” which may
upset grammarians, but should now ease a public that once thought it
too could be the target of a system of total surveillance.
In Politics and the Language English, Orwell wrote that simple
writing was necessary to enable political debate. The government has
been clear about its intent. The public has made clear its
assessment. And so the terms of debate are changed, the purpose
concealed, and programs march forward.
– Marc Rotenberg
 Orwell and Commercialism
“Advertising is the dirtiest ramp that capitalism has yet produced,”
declared Orwell’s Gordon Comstock in Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
Disgusted with the advertising industry’s disrespect for the public’s
intelligence, Comstock leaves his well-paying copy-writing job to live
a life of poverty. He rejects the modern Decalogue, which has been
reduced to two commercial commandments: “Thou shalt make money” and
“Thou shalt not lose thy job.” For Orwell, society’s civil religion of
the money god represents a new social control. Commercialism creates a
new orthodoxy, a climate where thinking is unnecessary because
propaganda ministers have provided all beliefs and ideas that need be
known. Orwell remarks in Nineteen Eighty-Four that once this
orthodoxy is established, people can have a right to intellectual
liberty because “they have no intellect.”
Nowhere else in Orwell’s work is the emptiness of commercialism more
sharply criticized than in Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Orwell bites
the conscience of the reader, making one painfully aware of how the
lack of money inhibits many of life’s joys. Eventually Comstock
returns to his advertising agency job, where he arrives just in time
to evaluate a colleague’s new advertisement for an antiperspirant foot
powder: “P.P. What about YOU?” “P.P” stands for pedic perspiration,
and while the word “pedic” is an advertising-industry neologism, the
company men nevertheless admire the slogan because it induced a
“guilty tremor” in those who encountered it. Comstock writes the copy
for the advertisements, which attempted to spread fear of loneliness
and rejection amongst those who didn’t buy the product.
Orwell’s criticism of commercialism is relevant today because
advertising’s reach has become both more pervasive and invasive.
Marketers know no boundaries. They are on a quest to invade your
private thoughts; to make commercials the “fabric” of your life. And
thus, captivity seems to be important to advertisers. Propaganda
should be force fed, just like the mandatory two minutes of hate in
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Emerging technologies that could be
used for captive advertising include directed sound devices that beam
messages at a specific individual. Targets of the device cannot ignore
the message, and feel as though the sound is literally inside their
head. Others are working on “instant customer recognition” in order to
create pervasive personalized marketing along the lines of Speilberg’s
Orwell’s contribution to criticism of commercialism closely follows
themes that were introduced by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. In
Huxley’s book, individuals were persuaded to love their own servitude
through genetic influence, social engineering, and healthy doses of
advertising-like propaganda. The selective release and repetition of
information, Huxley’s Bernard Marx observed, can “make one truth.”
Today’s advertisers follow the same model, inundating us with
commercial messages until they are incorporated in popular culture and
language. The marketing ministers have been so successful that a
number of commentators have suggested that the First Amendment
recognize advertising as fully protected free expression, on par with
our prayers and political advocacy. Apparently, the Constitution can
serve both God and mammon.
In recent years, there have been new calls to limit commercialism.
Often, these ventures focus on marketing to children, as they may not
possess adequate critical thinking skills and autonomy to evaluate
advertising and commercial messages. In October 2002, the editors of
British Medical Journal The Lancet recommended that “[m]ore radical
solutions should be considered” to curb commercialism’s effect on
children, including “taxing soft drinks and fast foods; subsidising
nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables; labeling the content of
fast food; and prohibiting marketing and advertising to children.”
However, in 1980 when the Federal Trade Commission attempted to curb
the reach of invasive marketing to children, the advertising industry
responded vigorously. The Industry successfully limited the agency’s
authority by getting Congress to bar the agency from promulgating
rules to protect children from advertising.
Perhaps I’ve been too hard on advertisers. Some argue that
advertising eases the difficult burdens of modern life by providing
useful information to ease our roles as consumers. The effect of
advertising and commercialism might in fact be the opposite. That is,
since it so frequently relies upon appeals to emotion and is devoid of
pricing and objective quality information, advertising might actually
harm individuals’ understandings of products and the market.
Orwell’s view of commercialism as a subtle but powerful form of social
control is finding a new following in a new generation, a generation
that reads Stay Free! and Adbusters Magazine. A generation that is
creating art such as Matt Groening’s The Simpsons (where the local
newspaper is called the Springfield Shopper), Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight
Club (1996), and Mike Judge’s Office Space (1999). There may be some
hope yet for a societal religious conversion away from the money god.
– Chris Hoofnagle
Adbusters Magazine: http://adbusters.org/
Stay Free! Magazine: http://stayfreemagazine.com/
Bad Ads: http://badads.org/
Commercial Alert: http://www.commercialalert.org/
 Orwell on Poverty and Inequality
“You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily
complicated. You thought it would be terrible; it is merely squalid
and boring. It is the peculiar lowness of poverty that you
discover first; the shifts that it puts you to, the complicated
meanness, the crust-wiping.” (Down and Out in Paris)
Why does poverty have to be so low? Is it not enough that one must
suffer from hunger and deprivation? Why must one also suffer from
humiliation? Poverty as pure deprivation is understandable, but why
must it carry social stigma? George Orwell believed that the lack of
dignity in poverty results from a social structure that perpetuates a
separation between classes. Those in power have incentive not to enact
reforms to benefit the poor and they benefit by buttressing the social
structures that perpetuate disparity.
The theme of poverty and the separation between those that have and
those that do not runs through his writings. He writes about separate
classes in 1984, he contrasts the aristocratic pigs with the other
farm animals in Animal Farm, he recounts the brutal poverty in
Marrakesh, and he tells of his own personal encounter with poverty
in Down and Out in Paris. For Orwell, poverty is a personal matter,
and it goes to the heart of his understanding of human dignity.
In Down and Out in Paris Orwell describes the work conditions of a
dishwasher or “plongeur.” The work is brutal. The work hours are
long. The conditions are terrible. Orwell finds that the plongeur “is
no freer than if he were bought and sold. His work is servile and
without art; he is paid just enough to keep him alive; his only
holiday is the sack. Except by a lucky chance, he has no escape from
this life, save into prison.” Orwell writes, “an idle man cannot be a
plongeur; they have simply been trapped by a routine which makes
Orwell examines why “comfortably situated people” are fond of
identifying hard work with honest work. One reason could be to soften
the tough nature of hard work. Transforming work that is senseless
and brutal into something virtuous salves the conscience of the well
off. Another reason is more instrumental–the “comfortably situated”
actually perpetuate the current conditions to maintain their position.
He writes, “I believe that this instinct to perpetuate useless work
is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are
such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it
is safer to keep them too busy to think.”
The danger of the mob is not a physical danger, but rather simply
forcing the upper class to share some of their wealth. Allowing the
working class time to think and organize would be a threat to the
upper class way of life. This is central to Orwell’s point. The
conditions of the working class are perpetuated by a social structure
that benefits the upper class, who in turn have little incentive to
correct the disparity in the system. When the disparity is made
apparent, the upper class brush it aside using convenient myths about
the virtues of honest work.
What really separates the classes then, is money. Orwell explains that
beggars, even though they work hard, are universally despised simply
because they fail to make money. “In practice nobody cares whether
work is useful or useless, productive or parasitic; the sole thing
demanded is that it shall be profitable.” Thus, Orwell concludes,
“[m]oney has become the grand test of virtue.” There can be no
dignity in poverty. Dignity is precluded by the defining condition of
poverty, a simple deficiency of money.
Orwell’s comments on poverty resonate today. In a time of increasing
unemployment and hardship, it takes a peculiar twist of logic to
justify a tax cut that only benefits the wealthiest fraction of the
population. Rather than trying to reconcile the disparity, the rich
might be better off trying to ignore it. Ignoring the problem should
be easy, since, as Orwell says, “[a]ll people who work with their
hands are partly invisible.” With the aid of private walled
communities, ghettos, and twelve lane freeways the poor can remain
invisible to the well off.
Technologies of surveillance are often first aimed at minorities and
the impoverished. The State of Connecticut invested in an expensive
biometric system to combat welfare fraud–the saving from catching a
few bad actors far exceeded by the total cost of the surveillance
system. Since September 11, the use of background checks on new
employees has seen increasing use. Companies are less likely today to
hire someone who has a minor offense. If poverty encourages crime,
these kinds of practice only encourage more poverty and crime.
Private companies in the name of risk management use supposedly
rational factors to discriminate among their customers, but these
factors might actually be serving as proxies for factors that, if
known, would be unlawful or obnoxious. New government risk profiling
systems such as the air passenger profiling system or Total
Information Awareness might result in furthering race, class, and
ethnic divisions. Those with clean records, good credit can sail
through the system, while those who have a pale of suspicion struggle
to make ends meet. Orwell reminds us to pay close attention to the
impact of these practices; the privileged have always tried to shield
the true nature of discriminatory practices.
– John Baggaley
 Orwell on Perpetual War
“Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had
not been at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly
long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his
earliest memories was of an air raid which appeared to take
everyone by surprise.” (1984)
In Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother maintains a totalitarian grip upon the
country of Oceania, by means of informers and constant surveillance.
Constantly in the background of this society of paranoia is a
perpetual war, waged against one of two remaining superpowers in the
world-Eurasia or Eastasia. Which two powers are at war at any given
time is largely irrelevant, as no victory can ever be achieved. The
purpose of the war is not, in fact, to win, but to do two things:
control Oceania’s economy and maintain in its citizens the credulity
and fanaticism required to maintain complete devotion to the Party.
In America we appear to be in the midst of a perpetual war on Terror.
Like the Cold War, it is a constant pressure and concern, blooming
occasionally from an ideological war on a concept to actual wars in
actual locations–Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. This war may not
be directed by a small cabal intent on consolidating and expanding its
power, but the consequences might be similar. Are we adequately
prepared for the consequences of this new war?
Actual wars have, traditionally, been well defined in time–there are
opening shots and final surrenders. And the two years following the
shock of September 11th have been accompanied so far by two definite
military actions against two different nations. These two actions
have been linked, not just by time, but also in the justifications
given for them. Both were viewed by the administration and the public
as extensions of the War on Terrorism. Yet it was not a link between
Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda that justified a war in Iraq, but a more
generalized fear of a potential attack from abroad. And Saddam
Hussein’s Iraq was certainly not the last unfriendly regime to plan
development of weapons of mass destruction. The list not a
particularly short one, and as governments and politics change, the
list may extend indefinitely. Threats and dangers have always
existed, and will always exist. In looking for potential enemies, one
is always sure to find them, in one state of nascence or another.
“The self-satisfied sheeplike face on the screen, and the
terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to
be borne; besides, the sight or even the thought of Goldstein
produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred
more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia.” (1984)
The image of the burning World Trade Center towers is imprinted on the
American consciousness. So are the images of the “enemy.” The faces
of Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta are filed in our minds in a
drawer labeled “terrorist,” as the face of Hitler and the swastika are
filed under “Nazi.” They are the faces of an enemy, people to rally
against, effigies to burn. Given a face to hate, we can personify our
fears and hatreds, and create in our minds an enemy that we feel a
need to fight. This emotional response can often bypass good common
sense. People often express a willingness to do anything, everything
they can to “get the terrorists.” We talk about wanting to “do
something.” Those “somethings” that get done run the gamut from
sensible (securing cockpit doors) to nonsensical (confiscating nail
clippers from traveling grandmothers) to egregious (detainees held for
months without charges in cells brightly lit around the clock).
“[T]o those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost
liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for
they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give
ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends.
They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of
evil. – John Ashcroft
Attorney General Ashcroft’s admonishment to the Senate Judiciary
Committee does not merely raise concern about the chilling of open and
honest debate. Suspicion and paranoia have all-too real consequences
for real people. In the days following the attacks of 9/11, the FBI
and other law enforcement agencies were flooded with tips from
citizens well-meaning and otherwise, reporting “suspicious”
activities. A recent New York Times article reported on scores of
innocent people having their lives overturned by another person’s
unwarranted suspicion. In one example, nine men in Evansville, Indiana
were rounded up, handcuffed, and imprisoned for a week on a false tip.
It took nineteen months before their names were cleared from the
national crime registry, and in the meantime, they were prevented from
flying, renting apartments, or getting jobs.
In the name of combating terrorism, the FBI and other agencies
continually argue for broader powers to expand domestic surveillance.
Suggestions that the restrictions exist to counter the FBI excesses of
the Hoover era are ignored in the face of wartime necessity. Wartime
necessity has often been used as a justification for many excesses–
the U.S. internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry during
World War II was justified as a wartime necessity.
Rights given up under an immediate crisis or for a specified duration
may seem reasonable in the aftermath of a disaster, but in a crisis, a
war that has no victory conditions, these rights may be gone for good.
The fact that there is no clear end to the War on Terrorism has
lasting implications not just on the attitudes and policies of
America, but it also has dire consequences for some. About 680 people
captured in Afghanistan are still being held prisoner at Guantanamo
Bay, where they have not had a trial, access to legal counsel, nor the
benefit of prisoner-of-war status. When they will be released or
charged has never been answered, but for references to “the end of the
We are told to look for threats from within–among our neighborhoods,
our neighbors. Yet there are so few terrorists and so many neighbors,
and the suspicion that this new cold war creates can only have
detrimental effects on communities around the country. These rifts may
not be repaired until we can overcome an “us versus them” mentality,
until we can look past a war that can end simply by us saying that it
“This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.”
– George W. Bush
– Sherwin Siy
 EPIC Bookstore: The Rise of the Computer State
The Rise of the Computer State; The Threats to Freedoms, Our Ethics
and Our Democratic Process, by David Burnham (Random House 1980)
David Burnham’s 1980 book examining the proliferation of computers and
their effects on society was prescient. There is hardly a person in
this country not affected by the computer; its usefulness is
unquestioned. In this work, however, Burnham asks about the
liabilities of computers–just how close to Orwell’s 1984 have we
In this examination of the computer state, Burnham, a former New York
Times investigative journalist, scrutinizes telephone companies, the
FBI, the IRS, Social Security, credit reporting agencies, the NSA, the
CIA, and cable companies to discover what their computers already know
and are trying to find out about us. The book also examines how this
information can be put to unforeseen and harmful uses.
Burnham marshals a wealth of evidence that hadn’t been available
elsewhere to document the case that the rise of the computer state can
threaten privacy, legal procedures, and democratic process.
“The Privacy Law Sourcebook 2002: United States Law, International
Law, and Recent Developments,” Marc Rotenberg, editor (EPIC 2002).
Price: $40. http://www.epic.org/bookstore/pls2002/
The “Physicians Desk Reference of the privacy world.” An invaluable
resource for students, attorneys, researchers and journalists who need
an up-to-date collection of U.S. and International privacy law, as
well as a comprehensive listing of privacy resources.
“FOIA 2002: Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws,” Harry
Hammitt, David Sobel and Mark Zaid, editors (EPIC 2002). Price: $40.
This is the standard reference work covering all aspects of the
Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Government in the
Sunshine Act, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The 21st
edition fully updates the manual that lawyers, journalists and
researchers have relied on for more than 25 years. For those who
litigate open government cases (or need to learn how to litigate
them), this is an essential reference manual.
“Privacy & Human Rights 2002: An International Survey of Privacy Laws
and Developments” (EPIC 2002). Price: $25.
This survey, by EPIC and Privacy International, reviews the state of
privacy in over fifty countries around the world. The survey examines
a wide range of privacy issues including data protection, telephone
tapping, genetic databases, video surveillance, location tracking, ID
systems and freedom of information laws.
“Filters and Freedom 2.0: Free Speech Perspectives on Internet Content
Controls” (EPIC 2001). Price: $20.
A collection of essays, studies, and critiques of Internet content
filtering. These papers are instrumental in explaining why filtering
threatens free expression.
“The Consumer Law Sourcebook 2000: Electronic Commerce and the Global
Economy,” Sarah Andrews, editor (EPIC 2000). Price: $40.
The Consumer Law Sourcebook provides a basic set of materials for
consumers, policy makers, practitioners and researchers who are
interested in the emerging field of electronic commerce. The focus is
on framework legislation that articulates basic rights for consumers
and the basic responsibilities for businesses in the online economy.
“Cryptography and Liberty 2000: An International Survey of Encryption
Policy,” Wayne Madsen and David Banisar, authors (EPIC 2000). Price:
EPIC’s third survey of encryption policies around the world. The
results indicate that the efforts to reduce export controls on strong
encryption products have largely succeeded, although several
governments are gaining new powers to combat the perceived threats of
encryption to law enforcement.
EPIC publications and other books on privacy, open government, free
expression, crypto and governance can be ordered at:
“EPIC Bookshelf” at Powell’s Books
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The Electronic Privacy Information Center is a public interest
research center in Washington, DC. It was established in 1994 to
focus public attention on emerging privacy issues such as the Clipper
Chip, the Digital Telephony proposal, national ID cards, medical
record privacy, and the collection and sale of personal information.
EPIC publishes the EPIC Alert, pursues Freedom of Information Act
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Your contributions will help support Freedom of Information Act and
First Amendment litigation, strong and effective advocacy for the
right of privacy and efforts to oppose government regulation of
encryption and expanding wiretapping powers.
Thank you for your support.
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