The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America
By Jeffrey Rosen
Random House/$25
In an era of Internet, e-mail and instant messaging, the electronic "footprints" we leave behind tell a fairly comprehensive story of where we have been, whom we have spoken to and what was said. At least partially motivated by the publicity given to the impeachment and acquittal of President Bill Clinton, Unwanted Gaze describes how the investigation into Monica Lewinsky's past created a legal investigative precedent rivaling the invasiveness anticipated by George Orwell in his book 1984.

This book maps the technological and legal history in our country leading up to modern society's current electronic privacy expectations and realities. The author describes at length a number of precedential court cases and technological advances that have fostered this new concern for privacy in our lives. Jeffrey Rosen is an intelligent author and the subject matter of this book seems well researched, but the content is slightly bland and repetitious. The historical significance of present privacy laws is interesting; however, the gist of this book could have easily been expressed in a much shorter work.

I doubt Unwanted Gaze would have garnered much attention had it been written a few years ago, but the topic is ripe considering the present significance of technology. If you are concerned with advances in electronic surveillance and how they will infringe on your personal privacy, then you probably fit into the book's target audience. The broadening of legal intrusion into our private lives is staggering, and if nothing else, this book leaves a paranoid and realistic fear that all of our actions can be watched, traced and even used against us in a court of law at a later date.

Beware of Big Brother.

—Mike LaRosa

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