Privacy: A Manifesto

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Overview

"Writing in a readable and fluid style, Wolfgang Sofsky shows just how important privacy is to modern life and, at the same time, just how endangered privacy has become. A reminder that to defend privacy is to defend democracy, individualism, and the good life, this book will interest anyone who has ever felt uneasy about how much governments and corporations know about us."—Hans-Peter Müller, Humboldt University, Berlin

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Editorial Reviews

The Times
In this absorbing and upsetting little book, half pungent polemic and half meditation, Sofsky describes how, by means of CCTV cameras and the tracing of mobile phone calls, bus pass use, credit card purchases, e-mail, indeed in almost all ordinary interactions whether in shops or with bureaucracies, every individual is transparently and luminously traceable, leaving a glowing smear behind him as wide as a motorway, and as easy for anyone to follow if they wish. . . . This is an important and very timely book. Its message, implied throughout, is that as one of the great values of civilisation and one of the essentials of personal and psychological integrity, privacy is worth fighting to regain.
— A. C. Grayling
The Age
In this spirited, if at times a little too generalised, defence of privacy, Sofsky rages against not only governmental and technological surveillance but also against the slackness of average citizens who have allowed, and even welcomed, this invasion of their souls.
— Fiona Capp
Spiked Review of Books
The chief achievement of this book is to explain why privacy matters. . . . Privacy: A Manifesto is as fine a defence of individual autonomy as you will find. You feel that Sofsky is not merely defending the idea of individual autonomy but has absorbed it as an ethic into his very bones.
— Josie Appleton
The Times - A.C. Grayling
In this absorbing and upsetting little book, half pungent polemic and half meditation, Sofsky describes how, by means of CCTV cameras and the tracing of mobile phone calls, bus pass use, credit card purchases, e-mail, indeed in almost all ordinary interactions whether in shops or with bureaucracies, every individual is transparently and luminously traceable, leaving a glowing smear behind him as wide as a motorway, and as easy for anyone to follow if they wish. . . . This is an important and very timely book. Its message, implied throughout, is that as one of the great values of civilisation and one of the essentials of personal and psychological integrity, privacy is worth fighting to regain.
Nature - John Gilbey
A manifesto in the classic sense. . . . [T]he author takes us on a personal journey that discusses the cultural roots of privacy, the origins of property and the pivotal nature of freedom of thought. Sofsky covers an enormous amount of territory on his voyage, and digs deep into our core social values to discuss the origins of our behaviours, interactions and innate needs.
The Age - Fiona Capp
In this spirited, if at times a little too generalised, defence of privacy, Sofsky rages against not only governmental and technological surveillance but also against the slackness of average citizens who have allowed, and even welcomed, this invasion of their souls.
Australian Literary Review - Jock Given
Most accept the watching. Wolfgang Sofsky does not. . . . We have allowed our privacy to be sacrificed to spurious promises of security and bureaucratic efficiency. Privacy, he argues in Privacy: A Manifesto, is the individual's fortress. It is an area free of domination, the only one under the individual's control.
Metapsychology Online Reviews - Georg Koppen
Sofksy's clear and precise language which shows the reader the issues concerning privacy forcefully. But above all, Sofsky's fundamental argumentation, starting from the body of an individual, is a valuable contribution to the discussion concerning the relationship between privacy and surveillance. It can serve as a stable fundament for discussions concerning the value of privacy which often only fall back on legal rules and their interpretation.
Australian - Miriam Cosic
The integrity of our personal lives has been so thoroughly compromised we hardly know what's public and what's private any more, what's important and what's not. Dazed by stimuli, we are immobilised in our decision-making. Sofsky, a German sociologist, calls for us to resist and reassert the powers of independent thought.
Spiked Review of Books - Josie Appleton
The chief achievement of this book is to explain why privacy matters. . . . Privacy: A Manifesto is as fine a defence of individual autonomy as you will find. You feel that Sofsky is not merely defending the idea of individual autonomy but has absorbed it as an ethic into his very bones.
The Times - A. C. Grayling
In this absorbing and upsetting little book, half pungent polemic and half meditation, Sofsky describes how, by means of CCTV cameras and the tracing of mobile phone calls, bus pass use, credit card purchases, e-mail, indeed in almost all ordinary interactions whether in shops or with bureaucracies, every individual is transparently and luminously traceable, leaving a glowing smear behind him as wide as a motorway, and as easy for anyone to follow if they wish. . . . This is an important and very timely book. Its message, implied throughout, is that as one of the great values of civilisation and one of the essentials of personal and psychological integrity, privacy is worth fighting to regain.
From the Publisher
"Excellent. . . . At once rhetorically sparse and alarming...Avoiding well-trodden ground, Sofsky is original in suffusing the physical abuses that the state perpetrates against the privacy of the individual."—AdamSmith.org blog

"In this absorbing and upsetting little book, half pungent polemic and half meditation, Sofsky describes how, by means of CCTV cameras and the tracing of mobile phone calls, bus pass use, credit card purchases, e-mail, indeed in almost all ordinary interactions whether in shops or with bureaucracies, every individual is transparently and luminously traceable, leaving a glowing smear behind him as wide as a motorway, and as easy for anyone to follow if they wish. . . . This is an important and very timely book. Its message, implied throughout, is that as one of the great values of civilisation and one of the essentials of personal and psychological integrity, privacy is worth fighting to regain."—A. C. Grayling, The Times (London)

"A manifesto in the classic sense. . . . [T]he author takes us on a personal journey that discusses the cultural roots of privacy, the origins of property and the pivotal nature of freedom of thought. Sofsky covers an enormous amount of territory on his voyage, and digs deep into our core social values to discuss the origins of our behaviours, interactions and innate needs."—John Gilbey, Nature

"In a critique of the decline of personal privacy, Wolfgang Sofsky blames not technology, the government or fears of crime and terrorism but apathy by the citizenry, and a growing culture of fame seeking or a willingness to share private data. . . . A very timely book, in this age of surveillance cameras, credit agencies, computerized tracking and even more, newer intrusions into our lives we don't even yet know about. Or sadder, probably freely signed up for."—Sacramento Book Review

"In this spirited, if at times a little too generalised, defence of privacy, Sofsky rages against not only governmental and technological surveillance but also against the slackness of average citizens who have allowed, and even welcomed, this invasion of their souls."—Fiona Capp, The Age

"Most accept the watching. Wolfgang Sofsky does not. . . . We have allowed our privacy to be sacrificed to spurious promises of security and bureaucratic efficiency. Privacy, he argues in Privacy: A Manifesto, is the individual's fortress. It is an area free of domination, the only one under the individual's control."—Jock Given, Australian Literary Review

"Sofksy's clear and precise language which shows the reader the issues concerning privacy forcefully. But above all, Sofsky's fundamental argumentation, starting from the body of an individual, is a valuable contribution to the discussion concerning the relationship between privacy and surveillance. It can serve as a stable fundament for discussions concerning the value of privacy which often only fall back on legal rules and their interpretation."—Georg Koppen, Metapsychology Online Reviews

"The integrity of our personal lives has been so thoroughly compromised we hardly know what's public and what's private any more, what's important and what's not. Dazed by stimuli, we are immobilised in our decision-making. Sofsky, a German sociologist, calls for us to resist and reassert the powers of independent thought."—Miriam Cosic, Australian

"The chief achievement of this book is to explain why privacy matters. . . . Privacy: A Manifesto is as fine a defence of individual autonomy as you will find. You feel that Sofsky is not merely defending the idea of individual autonomy but has absorbed it as an ethic into his very bones."—Josie Appleton, Spiked Review of Books

Australian
The integrity of our personal lives has been so thoroughly compromised we hardly know what's public and what's private any more, what's important and what's not. Dazed by stimuli, we are immobilised in our decision-making. Sofsky, a German sociologist, calls for us to resist and reassert the powers of independent thought.
— Miriam Cosic
AdamSmith.org blog
Excellent. . . . At once rhetorically sparse and alarming...Avoiding well-trodden ground, Sofsky is original in suffusing the physical abuses that the state perpetrates against the privacy of the individual.
Nature
A manifesto in the classic sense. . . . [T]he author takes us on a personal journey that discusses the cultural roots of privacy, the origins of property and the pivotal nature of freedom of thought. Sofsky covers an enormous amount of territory on his voyage, and digs deep into our core social values to discuss the origins of our behaviours, interactions and innate needs.
— John Gilbey
Sacramento Book Review
In a critique of the decline of personal privacy, Wolfgang Sofsky blames not technology, the government or fears of crime and terrorism but apathy by the citizenry, and a growing culture of fame seeking or a willingness to share private data. . . . A very timely book, in this age of surveillance cameras, credit agencies, computerized tracking and even more, newer intrusions into our lives we don't even yet know about. Or sadder, probably freely signed up for.
Australian Literary Review
Most accept the watching. Wolfgang Sofsky does not. . . . We have allowed our privacy to be sacrificed to spurious promises of security and bureaucratic efficiency. Privacy, he argues in Privacy: A Manifesto, is the individual's fortress. It is an area free of domination, the only one under the individual's control.
— Jock Given
Metapsychology Online Reviews
Sofksy's clear and precise language which shows the reader the issues concerning privacy forcefully. But above all, Sofsky's fundamental argumentation, starting from the body of an individual, is a valuable contribution to the discussion concerning the relationship between privacy and surveillance. It can serve as a stable fundament for discussions concerning the value of privacy which often only fall back on legal rules and their interpretation.
— Georg Koppen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691136721
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/8/2008
  • Pages: 148
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Wolfgang Sofsky's books include "Violence: Terrorism, Genocide, War" (Granta) and "The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp" (Princeton).
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Traces 1
Chapter 2: Power and Privacy 11
Chapter 3: Retrospectives 23
Chapter 4: Freedom and Privacy 30
Chapter 5: Territories of the Self 36
Chapter 6: Secrets of the Body 49
Chapter 7: Private Spaces 65
Chapter 8: Property 79
Chapter 9: Information 94
Chapter 10: Freedom of Thought 109
Notes 131

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Revealing!

    German sociologist W. Sofsky made a big point by the analyis of the general life of citizens of western societies. Our problem today, in the age of communications, is the dangerous lack of privacy. Every single move we make is been traced by accurates registers. So our principal task in our society is to conquer again our right to have the ammount of privacy we deserve in order to live as real modern citizens.
    The book is divided into ten chapters, each of them develops deep thougts about diferent issues we have in the present time of the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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