Synopses & Reviews
In No Place to Hide,
award-winning Washington Post
reporter Robert O'Harrow, Jr., lays out in unnerving detail the post-9/11 marriage of private data and technology companies and government anti-terror initiatives to create something entirely new: a security-industrial complex. Drawing on his years of investigation, O'Harrow shows how the government now depends on burgeoning private reservoirs of information about almost every aspect of our lives to promote homeland security and fight the war on terror.
Consider the following: When you use your cell phone, the phone company knows where you are and when. If you use a discount card, your grocery and prescription purchases are recorded, profiled, and analyzed. Many new cars have built-in devices that enable companies to track from afar details about your movements. Software and information companies can even generate graphical link-analysis charts illustrating exactly how each person in a room is related to every other through jobs, roommates, family, and the like. Almost anyone can buy a dossier on you, including almost everything it takes to commit identity theft, for less than fifty dollars.
It may sound like science fiction, but it's the routine activity of the nation's fast-growing information industry and, more and more, its new partner the U.S. government.
With unrivaled access, O'Harrow tells the inside stories of key players in this new world, from software inventors to counterintelligence officials. He reveals how the government is creating a national intelligence infrastructure with the help of private companies. And he examines the impact of this new security system on our traditional notions of civil liberties, autonomy, and privacy, and the ways it threatens to undermine some of our society's most cherished values, even while offering us a sense of security. This eye-opening examination takes readers behind the walls of secrecy and shows how we are rushing toward a surveillance society with few rules to guide and protect us. In this new world of high-tech domestic intelligence, there is literally no place to hide.
"The amount of personal data collected on ordinary citizens has grown steadily over the decades, and after 9/11, corporations that had been amassing this information largely for marketing purposes saw an opportunity to strengthen their ties with the government. But what do we really know about these data collectors, and are they trustworthy? O'Harrow, a Pulitzer finalist who covers privacy and technology issues for the Washington Post, tracks the explosive growth of this surveillance industry, with keen attention to the problems that 'inevitable mistakes' along the way have created in mainstream society, from victims of identity theft who have been placed in financial jeopardy to travelers detained at the airport because of the similarity of their names to those of criminal suspects. O'Harrow gives the government's push for increased surveillance heavy play, but he effectively presents the story's many sides, as when he juxtaposes the perspectives of a Justice Department attorney, a civil liberties activist and Senator Patrick Leahy in the first chapter. His evenhanded account underscores the caveats of surveillance, as well-intentioned people can deploy technologies for all the right reasons only to see their apparatuses misused later on. This is a thought-provoking, comprehensive account that strikes the right balance between dismissive and alarmist. Agent, Amy Rennert." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A]n authoritative and vivid account of the emergence of a 'security-industrial complex' and the far-reaching consequences for ordinary Americans." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"No Place to Hide might just do for privacy protection what Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did for environmental protection nearly a half-century ago....[No Place to Hide] is all the more damning because of its fair-mindedness." William Safire, The New York Times Book Review
"[W]hile No Place to Hide
is great journalism, and an important record of the post-9/11 revolution in surveillance, it's more narrative than analysis. Information has many different uses, and we need a legal framework that protects our privacy by distinguishing among them. Providing such a framework isn't the purpose of O'Harrow's book; but kudos to him for prodding us to ask the right questions." Telis Demos, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
An award-winning Washington Post journalist takes readers on an unsettling ride behind the scenes of the emerging surveillance society where private companies and the government watch every move.
Table of Contents
Introduction: No Place to Hide
1 Six Weeks in Autumn
2 Data Revolution
3 Who Am I?
4 The Matrix
5 Look Me Up Sometime
6 The Immutable Me
7 Total Information Awareness
8 The Government's Eyes and Ears
9 Good Guys, Bad Guys
10 No Place to Hide