Visions of Privacy: Policy Choices for the Digital Age


288 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8050-2
DDC 323.44'83




Edited by Colin J. Bennett and Rebecca Grant
Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeffrey Moon is head of the Documents Reference/Data Centre at Queen’s


Visions of Privacy explores the impact of new technologies, along with
recent political and business trends, on privacy legislation dating back
to the 1970s and 1980s. The book, which has its origins in a conference
held in British Columbia in 1996, more specifically addresses the
question of “whether the privacy solutions of the past are equal to
the surveillance challenges of the future.” A proposed “privacy tool
kit” presents five challenges to governments and organizations: apply
fair information practices, build privacy in, factor privacy into
business practices, think globally, and advocate against surveillance.
The book includes a comprehensive index, a short list of privacy-related
Internet sites, and bibliographical notes at the end of each chapter.

The essays that make up the volume are wide-ranging but form a cohesive
whole. Each chapter contains real-life examples and evidence of privacy
“risks” in a range of contexts (technological, organizational, and
national). These examples are both well presented and thought-provoking.
In addressing such topics as “privacy technology” and “biometric
encryption,” the authors provide sufficient detail without falling
into the trap of techno-jargon. No formal attempt is made to define
“privacy”; rather, each essay tackles that “flavor” of privacy
best suited to the topic in question.

One of the book’s major themes is the conflict between the rights of
an individual to privacy and the benefits to a society/state of having
access to personal information. Visions of Privacy provides an effective
examination of the complex balancing act that our society faces in
response to this conflict.


“Visions of Privacy: Policy Choices for the Digital Age,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,