Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between… (1998)
by David Brin
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0738201448, Paperback)David Brin takes some of our worst notions about threats to privacy and sets them on their ears. According to Brin, there is no turning back the growth of public observation and inevitable loss of privacy--at least outside of our own homes. Too many of our transactions are already monitored: Brin asserts that cameras used to observe and reduce crime in public areas have been successful and are on the rise. There's even talk of bringing in microphones to augment the cameras. Brin has no doubt that it's only a matter of time before they're installed in numbers to cover every urban area in every developed nation.
While this has the makings for an Orwellian nightmare, Brin argues that we can choose to make the same scenario a setting for even greater freedom. The determining factor is whether the power of observation and surveillance is held only by the police and the powerful or is shared by us all. In the latter case, Brin argues that people will have nothing to fear from the watchers because everyone will be watching each other. The cameras would become a public resource to assure that no mugger is hiding around the corner, our children are playing safely in the park, and police will not abuse their power.
No simplistic Utopian, Brin also acknowledges the many dangers on the way. He discusses how open access to information can either threaten or enhance freedom. It is one thing, for example, to make the entire outdoors public and another thing to allow the cameras and microphones to snoop into our homes. He therefore spends a lot of pages examining what steps are required to assure that a transparent society evolves in a manner that enhances rather than restricts freedom. This is a challenging view of tomorrow and an exhilarating read for those who don't mind challenges to even the most well-entrenched cultural assumptions. --Elizabeth Lewis
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:59 -0400)
The Transparent Society is a call for "reciprocal transparency," If police cameras watch us, shouldn't we be able to tune into police stations? If credit bureaus sell our data, shouldn't we know who buys it? Rather than cling to an illasion of anonymity - a historical anomaly, given our origins in close-knit villages - we should focus on guarding the most important forms of privacy and preserving mutual accountability. The biggest threat to our freedom, Brin warns, is that surveillance technology will be used by too few people, not by too many.