Posts Tagged 9/11

book review: The War on Privacy


Title: The War on Privacy
Author: Jacqueline Klosek
ISBN: 978-0275988913
Pages: 248
Publisher: Praeger Publishers (November 30, 2006)
Category: non-fiction
Review source: author
Rating: 4/5

Terrorism is not a new creation; however, it is also undeniable that the current terrorist threat presents new and special challenges to our society. Indeed, the recent wave of terrorist activity has been particularly damaging and profound. The effects of the terrorism of the past few years have transformed and will long continue to influence the way we live for decades, if not centuries, to come. While many of these changes have occurred as a direct result of the acts of terrorists themselves, others have followed and will continue to grow out of our collective response to the acts of the terrorists.

The War on Privacy is densely packed with information about privacy issues around the globe. Author Jacqueline Klosek, a Certified Information Privacy Professional and attorney with Goodwin Procter LLP in New York City, has divided the book into sections which focus on each region of the world. She analyzes how the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Northern and Southern Neighbors (of the U.S.), South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia handle privacy rights, particularly after 9/11. I’ll admit it wasn’t the easiest read for someone who wanted to go to law school but got dismal LSAT scores. Klosek’s intensive research and thorough appraisal of privacy in every region is so complete that The War on Privacy is the ideal reference for privacy issues.

Jacqueline Klosek has answered an arsenal of questions from me. Her writing and interest in this topic’s importance shines through in the book. I have listed what I learned from reading The War on Privacy.

European Data Protection Directive—prohibits export of any personal data from European Union [EU] to third countries without sufficient protection to personal data.

Patriot Act [the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001]—“data mining” efforts of the government. The Government has help from corporations, educational institutions, and other private entities. “Such draft has, of course, put many such entities in the impossible position of having to choose between responding to governmental demands for information on the one hand and honoring privacy commitments made to individuals and complying with privacy laws on the other.”

United Nations Security Council, on September 28, 2001 adopted Resolution 1373—this called upon member states to follow many rules to fight terrorism e.g. “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts or provide safe havens;” and “exchange information in accordance with international and domestic law and cooperate on administrative and judicial matters to prevent the commission of terrorist acts;”

Electronic Communications Privacy Act [ECPA]: “places restrictions on the interception of electronic communications and creates privacy protections for stored electronic communications.”

–Arabic has no equivalent to the English word privacy. Privacy in the Middle East relates to women and family.

Tunisia (where one of my closest friends from high school has lived with her Tunisian husband and two children for nearly 20 years) became the first Arab country to enact a comprehensive data privacy law.

Europe “has a longer history and greater experience with both efforts to protect privacy rights and efforts to counteract the threat of terrorism. Therefore, the jurisdiction may be able to offer some points of guidance for other countries that are dealing with these challenges.”

This is part of the Pump up the Volume Book tour.

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STEELE INTERVIEWS: Jacqueline Klosek [The War on Privacy]


Amy Steele [AS]: Why did you decide to write this book?

Jacqueline Klosek [JK]: I undertook writing The War on Privacy because I was very interested in studying and understanding the effect that the “war on terror” was having on privacy rights worldwide.

Ever since completing my studies, a significant part of my legal practice has focused on privacy rights. For the most part, I have worked to help companies meet their obligations for complying with laws concerning privacy and data security. After September 11th, I found that a lot of companies were finding themselves between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. Because of laws and consumer demands, many companies had been making strong commitments regarding data privacy. However, in an effort to reduce the incidence of terrorism, the government was calling upon companies to provide various data and information to the government. Companies were thus placed in a very difficult position, forced to consider whether they provide the information requested by the government or honor the privacy commitments they had made to their customers, for in many cases, they simply could not do both, as the duties were in conflict. At the same time, our government was initiating new and expanding existing information collection and use projects. Upon learning of these developments, I became interested in studying them further and also learning about how the issues were playing out around the world.

AS: How is privacy defined in the U.S.?

JK: There are a vast number of interpretations of the meaning of privacy. I tend to favor Justice Brandeis’s characterization of privacy as the “right to be left alone.” This definition, proposed many years ago, still holds great relevance today. This interpretation of privacy can be applied to a number of different contexts.

AS: Why is Tunisia so advanced to establish data privacy law? (my very good friend from high school has lived there for nearly 20 years)

JK: That is an interesting fact that you have picked up upon. As you have likely observed through the book, there are only a few countries in Africa and the Middle East that have enacted comprehensive privacy laws so Tunisia is certainly in the minority. Tunisia’s progressive – and protective – view of privacy rights was likely influenced by Europe’s main privacy directive (Directive 95/46/EC). This directive contains restrictions on transferring data from Europe to third countries that do not provide adequate protection to personal data. As a result of the enactment of this directive, a fair number of countries outside of Europe acted promptly to enact comprehensive privacy laws that might be considered to provide adequate protection to personal data. They did so to increase the likelihood that they would be able to continue to receive personal data from Europe and enjoy strong cross-border commerce.

AS: What is needed to increase privacy rights in Africa and Middle East?

JK: In jurisdictions where privacy is lacking, I think it will be important for citizens and politicians to perceive a value in privacy and a need for legislative measures to protect privacy rights. For many jurisdictions, the enactment of more stringent privacy laws is often a necessary part of the quest to advance electronic commerce, increase the use of digital health records, transition to electronic voting and undertake other initiatives that may pose a risk to information privacy and security.

AS: Why is it even necessary to establish privacy rights acts?

JK: That is a great question and it is a topic that has been the subject of considerable debate here in the United States. Unlike many countries, we still do not have a comprehensive privacy law here in the United States. As I mentioned above, European Directive 95/46/EC motivates many countries outside of Europe to enact their own privacy laws. While US legislators have debated whether the US needs a comprehensive privacy law, one has not yet been enacted. Instead, our lawmakers have continued to enact privacy laws to address particular perceived vulnerabilities. For example, we have the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) to protect the privacy of children online and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) to protect the privacy of our health and medical information.

AS: The book is complex and comprehensive. I think I could understand it enough to learn some things. Thank you for taking the tine with these questions.

JK: Thank you very much for taking the time to read War on Privacy and for proposing these thoughtful questions.

Author Jacqueline Klosek is a Certified Information Privacy Professional and attorney with Goodwin Procter LLP in New York City.

Thank you to Tracee with Pump up the Volume Book Tours for arranging the interview.

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