Authors & Events
Jun 12, 2001
| ISBN 9780679765202
Apr 20, 2011
| ISBN 9780307766601
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Jun 12, 2001 | ISBN 9780679765202
Apr 20, 2011 | ISBN 9780307766601
The Unwanted Gaze is an important book about one of the most pressing issues of our day: how changes in technology and the law have combined to demolish our rights of privacy, and what we can and must do to re-secure them. In a world in which Ken Starr can subpoena Monica Lewinsky’s bookstore receipts and deleted e-mail messages can be used as justification for firing employees, it’s clear that private information of all kinds can be taken out of context and wielded against us. Where exactly did our constitutional guarantees on privacy go? In superbly lucid prose, Jeffrey Rosen tells not only where those privacy rights went but also how we can get them back. The Unwanted Gaze is utterly indispensable for anyone who cares about the future of his or her private life.
As thinking, writing, and gossip increasingly take place in cyberspace, the part of our life that can be monitored and searched has vastly expanded. E-mail, even after it is deleted, becomes a permanent record that can be resurrected by employers or prosecutors at any point in the future. On the Internet, every website we visit, every store we browse in, every magazine we skim–and the amount of time we skim it–create electronic footprints that can be traced back to us, revealing detailed patterns about our tastes, preferences, and intimate thoughts. In this pathbreaking book, Jeffrey Rosen explores the legal, technological, and cultural changes that have undermined our ability to control how much personal information about ourselves is communicated to others, and he proposes ways of reconstructing some of the zones of privacy that law and technology have been allowed to invade. In the eighteenth century, when the Bill of Rights was drafted, the spectacle of state agents breaking into a citizen’s home and rummaging through his or her private diaries was considered the paradigm case of an unconstitutional search and seizure. But during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, prosecutors were able to subpoena Monica Lewinsky’s bookstore receipts and to retrieve unsent love letters from her home computer. And the sense of violation that Monica Lewinsky experienced is not unique. In a world in which everything that Americans read, write, and buy can be recorded and monitored in cyberspace, there is a growing danger that intimate personal information originally disclosed only to our friends and colleagues may be exposed to–and misinterpreted by–a less understanding audience of strangers. Privacy is important, Rosen argues, because it protects us from being judged out of context in a world of short attention spans, a world in which isolated bits of intimate information can be confused with genuine knowledge. Rosen also examines the expansion of sexual-harassment law that has given employers an incentive to monitor our e-mail, Internet browsing habits, and office romances. And he suggests that some forms of offensive speech in the workplace–including the indignities allegedly suffered by Paula Jones and Anita Hill–are better conceived of as invasions of privacy than as examples of sex discrimination. Combining discussions of current events–from Kenneth Starr’s tapes to DoubleClick’s on-line profiles–with inno-vative legal and cultural analysis, The Unwanted Gaze offers a powerful challenge to Americans to be proactive in the face of new threats to privacy in the twenty-first century.
Jeffrey Rosen is an associate professor at the George Washington University Law School and legal affairs editor of The New Republic. He is a graduate of Harvard College; Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and Yale Law… More about Jeffrey Rosen
"Brilliant and haunting…a pleasure to read."–The Washington Post Book World“Rosen makes a complex subject fascinating by showing us how vulnerable we all are. His message: Pay attention. It could happen to you.”–The Denver Post “This remarkably rich and detailed book sharpens our understanding of a problem that most of us prefer not to think about.”–The New York Times Book Review
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