None of Your Damn Business: Privacy in the United States from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age

Lawrence Cappello. Univ. of Chicago, $30 (352p) ISBN 978-0-226-55774-8
Capello, a professor of U.S. labor history and privacy law, makes his debut with a timely and engaging book on the latter subject. Through a series of chronological case studies, he examines the tension between individual and collective rights to privacy and changing public interests. Capello makes a persuasive argument for privacy as both a personal necessity and a societal good and notes that, over the last century and a half, privacy advocates have focused too much on the individual right to privacy and have failed to “position privacy as a larger societal right essential to the progress of any free civilization.” He simultaneously acknowledges that “claims to privacy almost always push against a legitimate counterweight that other people care about” and must be balanced against the competing needs of the public and other interests. His examples—involving Gilded Era tabloids, Roe v. Wade, and Facebook—effectively counter the old chestnut that only guilty people have something to hide. Capello’s puckish sensibilities and engaging style dovetail wittily with his well-chosen and thoughtful examples, resulting in an academic text that any reader can appreciate. This book is a must-read for legislators, policymakers, and anyone curious about the ways their privacy could potentially be compromised by the government, the media, or data brokers. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/10/2019
Release date: 09/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-226-55788-5
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