The Limits of Privacy
By (author) Amitai Etzioni
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Limits of Privacy by Amitai Etzioni
Book DescriptionPrivacy is perhaps the most hallowed of American rights--and most people are concerned that new technologies available to governments and corporations threaten to erode this most privileged of rights. But in The Limits of Privacy, Amitai Etzioni offers a decidedly different point of view, in which the right to privacy is balanced against concern for public safety and health. Etzioni looks at five flashpoint issues: Megan's Laws, HIV testing of infants, deciphering of encrypted messages, national identification cards, and medical records, and concludes that there are times when Amricans' insistence on privacy is not in the best interests of society at large. He offers four clear and concise criteria which, when applied jointly, help us to determine when the right to privacy should be overridden for the greater public good.Almost every week headlines warn us that our cell phones are being monitored, our e-mails read, and our medical records traded on the open market. Public opinion polls show that Americans are dismayed about incursions against personal privacy. Congress and state legislatures are considering laws designed to address their concerns.Focusing on five flashpoint issues--Megan's Law, mandatory HIV testing of infants, encryption of electronic documents, national identification cards and biometric identifiers, and medical records--The Limits of Privacy argues counterintuitively that sometimes major public health and safety concerns should outweigh the individual's right to privacy. Presenting four concise criteria to determine when the right to privacy should be preserved and when it should be overridden in the interests of the wider community, Etzioni argues that, in some cases, we would do well to sacrifice the privacy of the individual in the name of the common good.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780465040902
(203mm x 127mm x 18mm)
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 16-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Amitai Etzioni
Privacy in a Cyber Age, Hardback (June 2015)
This book lays out the foundation of a privacy doctrine suitable to the cyber age. It limits the volume, sensitivity, and secondary analysis that can be carried out. In studying these matters, the book examines the privacy issues raised by the NSA, publication of state secrets, and DNA usage.
New Common Ground, Hardback (July 2009)
Race, age, political affiliation, country of origin, native language-too often Americans define themselves, and are defined, by the differences that separate them. But if the 2008 presidential campaign has taught us anything, it is that we as a people want to look beyond these divisions to the values and interests that unite us.
Security First, Paperback (September 2008)» View all books by Amitai Etzioni
What should American policies be toward recently liberated countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or rogue states like North Korea and Iran? The author asserts that providing basic security must be the first priority in all foreign policy considerations, even ahead of efforts to democratize.
US Kirkus Review » Etzioni (George Washington Univ.) continues his elucidation and defense of "communitarianism" begun in such previous works as The New Golden Rule: Community and Morality in a Democratic Society (1997). Communitarianism holds that a good society must maintain a balance between individual rights and the common good. Since the 1960s or so, concern for the common good has given way in the US to "excessive deference to privacy." Etzioni believes it's time to correct the balance. Certainly aware of the importance of privacy, Etzioni lays out specific criteria to be met and stringent processes to be followed when rights are to be curtailed. There must be a real, not hypothetical, danger to the common good. The danger must first be dealt with, without restricting privacy rights if possible. When rights are curtailed the action should be minimally intrusive, and undesired side effects must be guarded against, e.g., if widespread HIV testing is found necessary, efforts must be made to enhance the confidentiality of medical records. Taking this framework, Etzioni examines five areas of public policy, among them mandatory HIV testing of infants, the public listing of sex offenders ("Megan's Laws"), and medical-records privacy. Predictably, in all but the last, where he argues that there should be more protection, he finds a minimal diminution in individual rights justifiable. Sex offenders, for instance, do have their rights curtailed when their presence in a community is made public, but the benefit to the community is worth it. These substantive chapters are intriguing, yet overall there is not much new here. Etzioni has plowed this field often, and the basic premises of his argument are not improved upon. Curiously, he continues to paint privacy with broad strokes, with too little regard for the nuances of that term. Is it hedonism he decries, or selfishness? Are demands for fights all symptomatic of a disregard for the public good? Such issues remain unexplored. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Amitai Etzioni
Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor at George Washington University and the author of fourteen books on social policy and ethics, including The Spirit of Community and The Moral Dimension. He is the founding president of the Communitarian Network, the editor of The Responsive Community, and a former president of the American Sociological Association. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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