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The Limits of Privacy Internationally renowned communitarian leader Amitai Etzioni presents a controversial challenge to the fundamental American belief in personal privacy at all costs Full description


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THE CITIZENS OF FORTY-NINE STATES and the District of Columbia must come to terms with the question of whether it is acceptable to violate the privacy of mothers in order to save the lives of some of their children. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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13 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Takes the Reader Down a Slippery Slope 2 juin 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Under the guise of promoting "civil" dialogue, Etzioni takes the reader down a slippery slope whereby "community standards" are allowed to eclipse the rights of individuals.
This is particularly scary if you are a member, as I am, of a minority. When individual rights are abrogated, then those of us in the minority are subject to "The Tyranny of the Majority" (as the much-reviled Lani Guinier appropriately titled her book). Etzioni doesn't give enough thought to the protections necessary for those who espouse unpopular beliefs or belong to minority groups.
A far better book is Deborah Tannen's "The Argument Culture" which replaces coercion with dialogue.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Etzioni's Privacy Concerns 22 mars 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
While The New Golden Rule was aimed strictly at academic audiences, The Limits of Privacy speaks to all who care about the moral, legal and policy issues raised by the tension between personal privacy and the common good, especially public health and safety.
The book explores five currently hot issues:
* Megan's Laws: Etzioni argues that these laws do not do enough to protect children from sex offenders. He outlines a whole new approach to dealing with pedophiles.
* HIV Testing of Infants: The book shows that many infants die unnecessarily because the vast majority of states has not yet adopted a testing procedure which has worked in New York to identify and treat infected newborns.
* Bio-metrics: In very short order your face and hand will become your 100% reliable, unforgible ID card. Anonymity will vanish, but so will most fugitives from the law, illegal immigrants, welfare cheats, and many others who rely on false IDs.
* Hyper-privacy: New encryption programs allow your e-mail to be completely private. But how can we use this technology to protect our communications and transactions, and also be sure that this same hyper-privacy is not afforded to Internet-savvy drug lords, pedophiles, and terrorists? Etzioni shows what might be done.
* Medical privacy: The privacy of your medical records is violated daily when corporations trade that information on the open market. This is a case of Big Bucks, not Big Brother, violating our privacy. What can be done about these Privacy Merchants?
Each of these issues is debated daily in the media, in public meetings, in legislatures, and at home. Etzioni takes a highly original stance on all of them: Rather than decrying the loss of privacy, his first concern is safety and health. The book closes with a call for a whole new legal conception of privacy. One based on the notion of equal concern for the common good (public health and safety) and privacy, rather than according privacy a privileged position.
29 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The people don't always know best. 18 juin 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
In a recent New York Times column, Bob Herbert alluded to a conversation he had recently with famed author William Manchester. Manchester mentioned that he had learned over the years that the majority is not always right. He cited two examples where he felt they were clearly wrong: 1) during the McCarthy era, only 29% of the public felt McCarthy was acting inappropriately; and 2) despite all evidence to the contrary, 70% of the American people still believe there was a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy.
I mention these comments, because it seems to me that they point up one of the dangers in letting community standards dictate behavior. Certainly most reasonable people today (with the exception of die-hard conservatives like William F. Buckley) would agree that McCarthy's tactics were way out of line, but at the time, they were seen as legit by a 2/3 majority of the American public. This indicates one of the leading flaws in Professor Etzioni's argument: the community can not be counted on to enact laws that will ensure the protection of those who behave differently or who disagree with the majority opinion. I am afraid that Manchester's comments ring true. For that reason, I believe that a logical consequence of communitarianism is retribution towards those who step out of line or depart in any way from "community standards". Behavior may be banned merely because a majority of the people don't like it, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with it. Look at the ignominious history of sodomy laws in this country. Would Professor Etzioni wish to see these laws extended? If it suited the community, would he like to see prohibitions against gays in the military?
All in all, I would like to see Professor Etzioni address these issues more thoroughly and satisfactorily in his next book.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"Privacy as Privilege" by Jonathan Kirsch in Cal. Lawyer 13 avril 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The right to be let alone, as Louis Brandeis and his law partner Samuel Warren so famously defined the right of privacy, expresses an idea that is profoundly and authentically American. After all, we all tend to bristle at the notion that someone, whether it is big government, big business, or just a nosy neighbor, might be eavesdropping on our phone calls, or browsing through our medical records, or sniggering over the movies we rent at the video store. And even the most priggish Clinton hater ought to be able to understand why the president might feel a bit aggrieved to discover that an intern has been yakking about their sexual adventures to someone who first rigs a homemade tap on her phone and then puts on a wire to go to lunch. "No one needs to read a book-let alone a philosophical tract or an extensive policy analysis- to be reminded that the right to be let alone is much cherished," allows Amitai Etzioni in The Limits of Privacy, and that "without privacy no society can long remain free." Yet Etzioni insists on presenting us with "the other side of the privacy equation." His book is a well-argued brief in favor of the proposition that the right of privacy ought not to be regarded as something sacred and thus inviolable. Privacy and public interest exist in a state of constant tension, Etzioni suggests, and sometimes "the common good entails violating privacy." The flash points between privacy and public safety can be spotted all over the landscape-- drug testing in the schools and the workplace, sobriety checkpoints on the streets and highways, surveillance cameras in parking lots and shopping malls. For his purposes, Etzioni focuses on four specific examples of the friction between privacy and public interest, including the testing of infants for HIV, the various "Megan's Laws" that alert the public to the presence of sex offenders in their communities, the right of the government to decode encrypted messages on the Internet and other media, and the use of identification cards and "biometric identifiers" such as voice recognition and "eyeprints," all of which Etzioni finds to be acceptable intrusions into the realm of privacy when a justifiable public interest is served.
Etzioni's presentation is deft and disciplined, his reasoning straightforward and plainspoken. He holds himself to a high standard of intellectual honesty, always crediting the arguments that can be made against the positions he is advocating. His book is largely free of the "spin" that has so corrupted public discourse in America, and his advocacy is only strengthened as a result of his candor and clarity. "To reconceptualize privacy, a highly revered right, may seem offensive, almost sacrilegious," he is willing to concede. "However, in the wake of the rise of radical individualism between 1960 and the 1990s, a new conception of privacy is called for, one that does not privilege privacy over the common good but rather is open to balance with concerns for social responsibilities." It is also true, however, that Etzioni has chosen case studies that tend to play on conscience and sentiment, fear and passion. The testing of newborns for HIV, which also reveals whether the mother is HIV-positive, surely invades the mother's privacy, but it, may also save the life of a baby. "Megan's Laws" may expose an offender who has already served his sentence to lifelong public shame, but it also holds out the prospect of protecting innocent young children from sexual predators.
Even though he is a sociologist rather than a lawyer, Etzioni strides confidently into the thickets of constitutional law, and he invokes the Fourth Amendment to justify his proposals for "reconceptualizing" the right of privacy. Dismissing what he calls "the amalgam of various constitutional rights" that provide the fuzzy theoretical underpinnings of the right of privacy in cases dealing with "reproductive choice," Etzioni prefers the balancing tests that he finds in search-and-seizure cases, in which privacy is weighed against "the common good" and sometimes found wanting.
Etzioni's message is not always honored in his own country, but he does not seem to care that his ideas may be unfashionable. Remarkably, the nay-saying of his critics even shows up in the blurbs that are being circulated by his publisher to promote the book. The ubiquitous Alan M. Dershowitz, for example, is quoted in the publicity release from Basic Books as calling The Limits of Privacy a "must-read," but he is also allowed to voice a dissenting opinion on Etzioni's call for a balance between privacy and the public interest: "I quarrel," quips Dershowitz, "with the weight of the communitarian thumb he places on the scale."
The core of Etzioni's argument is so reasonable that it is ultimately hard to resist: We err when we sacralize the right of privacy to the exclusion of common sense, and we ought to entertain at least the idea that invasion of privacy by government is sometimes the lesser of two evils. After all, the Branch Davidians just wanted to be left alone, too. Although he is quick to invoke the common good and the communitarian principle, Etzioni's best argument is based on an appeal to the individual reader's empathy: Would you be willing to sacrifice some measure of privacy to frustrate a terrorist who seeks to bomb a public building or to protect a child from a sexual predator who seeks to rape and kill her? Not many of us would say no, or so Etzioni assumes, and I think he is right.
3 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent public policy book 12 septembre 2001
Par LEON L CZIKOWSKY - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
If one seeks a current book that is creating great controversy in the public policy field, "The Limits of Privacy" should fulfill your search. This book combines philosophical discussions with actual issues and then draws its own conclusions. Whether one agrees or not with the author's opinions, this book definitely creates spirited debate.
The author, Amitai Etzioni, is a leading proponent of the commutarian viewpoint. Commutarians argue that policies should consider what is best for the community while simultaneoulsy attempting to protect privacy rights. A balance needs to be established between these two goals as they often are in conflict. Amitai Etzioni argues that individual rights should be protected except when such preservation presents a clear threat to the community welfare.
The author claims in this book there are public safety and health concerns which are adversely affected by attempts to defend personal privacy rights. Etzioni argues these concerns should be evaluated according to their moral, legal, and social aspects. In this book, the common good wins out over privacy issues in most of the issues presented, namly universal identification, Megan's law, testing infants for HIV, and encryption for online privacy. On examining the issue of the privacy of medical records, the author sides with the advocates of individual privacy versus the community welfare.
The prescription for policy analysis, as presented by the author, is that privacy concerns should be considered first with policies restricting such persoanl privacy being accomplished with as minimal intrusion as possible. Crtics will argue the author seems to readily advocate proceeding with such intrusions.
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with each conclusion, most readers should find this an insightful book with coherent yet controversial arguments. It will spark much rich debate.
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