The Electronic Privacy Papers:
Documents on the Battle for Privacy in the Age of Surveillance

Bruce Schneier + David Banisar

John Wiley 1997
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
The Privacy Papers is not about electronic privacy in general: it covers only United States Federal politics, and only the areas of wiretapping and cryptography. The three topics covered are wiretapping and the Digital Telephony proposals, the Clipper Chip, and other controls on cryptography (such as export controls and software key escrow proposals).

The documents included fall into several categories. There are broad overviews of the issues, some of them written just for this volume. There are public pronouncements and documents from various government bodies: legislation, legal judgements, policy statements, and so forth. There are government documents obtained under Freedom of Information requests (some of them partially declassified documents complete with blacked out sections and scrawled marginal annotations), which tell the story of what happened behind the scenes. And there are newspaper editorials, opinion pieces, submissions to government enquiries, and policy statements from corporations and non-government organisations, presenting the response from the public.

Some of the material included in The Privacy Papers is available online, none of it is breaking news (the cut-off for material appears to be mid-to-late 1996), and some of the government documents included are rather long-winded (no surprise there). It is not intended to be a "current affairs" study, however; nor is it aimed at a popular audience. The Privacy Papers will be a valuable reference sourcebook for anyone involved with recent government attempts to control the technology necessary for privacy — for historians, activists, journalists, lobbyists, researchers, and maybe even politicians.

November 1997

External links:
- buy from or
Related reviews:
- Bruce Schneier - Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World
- books about the Internet
- books about civil liberties
%T The Electronic Privacy Papers
%S Documents on the Battle for Privacy in the Age of Surveillance
%A Schneier, Bruce
%A Banisar, David
%I John Wiley
%D 1997
%O hardcover, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0471122971
%P xvi,747pp