George Orwell envisioned Big Brother as an outgrowth of a looming totalitarian state, but in this timely survey Robert O'Harrow Jr. portrays a surveillance society that's less centralized and more a joint public/private venture. Indeed, the most frightening aspect of the Washington Post reporter's thoroughly researched and naggingly disquieting chronicle lies in the matter-of-fact nature of information hunters and gatherers and the insatiable systems they've concocted. Here is a world where data is gathered by relatively unheralded organizations that smooth the way for commercial entities to find the good customers and avoid dicey ones. Government of course too has an interest in the data that's been mined. Information is power, especially when trying to find the bad guys. The mutually compatible skills and needs shared by private and public snoopers were fusing prior to the attacks of 9/11, but the process has since gone into hyperdrive. O'Harrow weaves together vignettes to record the development of the "security-industrial complex," taking pains to personalize his chronicle of a movement that's remained (perhaps purposefully) faceless. Recognizing the appeal of state-of-the-art systems that can track down a murderer/rapist with heretofore unimaginable speed, the author recognizes, too, that the same devices can mistakenly destroy reputations and cast a pall over a free society. In a post-9/11 world where homeland security often trumps personal liberty, this work is an eye-opener for those who take their privacy for granted. --Steven Stolder
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Scared? You should be!, Apr 29, 2023
First, I gave this book 4 stars rather than 5 ONLY because the volume of information provided and the writing style make it a bit of a chore to slog through. That said, the information contained in this tome is genuinely frightening stuff.
Between the truly sloppy practices of the commercial info brokers who buy and sell our lives (without any compensation to us) and the voracious appetite of the post 9/11 federal security apparat, it seems that we may have a lot more to fear from our "friends" than we do from our enemies the terrorists.
Some other reviewers have complained that O'Harrow has provided us with no solution to the problem. Its true, he hasn't, but I will. Buy this book, and if it scares you enough, buy three more, and send one each to your congressional representatives under a covering letter asking them to tell you precisely what it is they plan to do to bring this exploding outrage of surveillance mania under control. Remember, they work for you, not vice-versa.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Good, could have been outstanding w/proper "footnotes", Apr 13, 2023
If tracing down quotes and other statements of fact are important to you, this book is NOT for you (see the second paragraph under this review).
The author of "No Place to Hide" (Robert O'Harrow, Jr.) has produced a well-written book that is very informative. He provides the reader with ample information that the US Government is "purchasing" information from various privately-owned companies (data brokers). He gives the reader examples of mistakes that have been made by data brokers (identify theft, other fraud), which truly are nightmarish, and, without question, true. So the information in the book is good.
However, 1 star is taken away from this book because the author chooses to use "Notes" at the end of the book, which are maddeningly difficult to trace from the actual book. (Free Press, PLEASE go back to the system of actually referencing "notes," for this system is intolerable.)
Oddly, the author does not provide the reader with suggestions as to how to actually protect ones identity, et al. That, Mr. O'Harrow, Jr., would have been helpful.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
fascinating and compelling, Feb 27, 2023
I was interested in this book because I am writing a paper about a recent FCC decision, and am finding it riveting because it gives color as well as factual information about the people I have been researching. Of particular interest to the general reader will be the interviews the author did right after 9/11. Highly recommended.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
NO PLACE TO HIDE: 5-Star ***** e-Surveillance Data Dump., Feb 27, 2023
I highly recommend it for the quality of its content, but it is not very reader friendly.
It's more an All That Bob O'Harrow Knows About e-Surveillance data dump, than it is a well structured and laid out reporting of our out-of-control New World Order Emerging Surveillance Society [it has no Summary Tables, "Bullet" Summaries, http://www...links references, etc.].
It is cover-to-cover, Chock-Full-O' Words and most all that is of import on this subject area is in there somewhere. It takes some heavy and studious "O'Harrowing" to harrow through it all, but the slog is well worth it and yields many golden nuggets of e-Surveillance INFO.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Things Are Worse Than You Think, Feb 24, 2023
I mean the state of privacy in America, not the book.
The author provides shocking and "eye opening" information about private data companies that are building dossiers on each and every one of us! But in the end I also think that the problem lies with the government's hunger for surveillance and control.
I was a young girl in Nazi Germany and can still remember how we were shocked that a totalitarian state could spring up so easily in what was a free and democratic country. The problem was that we were complacent and we waited too long to recognize and challenge what was happening. I think America, my beloved adopted country, is on the same path.