Andre Bacard's "Computer Privacy Handbook"

A Book Review Written by Murray Peck

I highly recommend Andre Bacard's new book for anyone who cares about privacy. Bacard argues that our "Information Age" has a flip side, namely the "Surveillance Age." With both funny and scary examples, Bacard illustrates how everyone is at risk because of "data sharks" (people, corporations, and governments) who trade our personal secrets for their gain. He devastates the knee jerk reaction "Whatsamatter, I've got nothing to hide."

Bacard's earlier book, "Hunger for Power: Who Rules the World and How," prepared him for a fresh view of cyberspace. In "Computer Privacy Handbook," Bacard tells how his meetings with John Markoff, John Perry Barlow, Phil Zimmermann, Jim Warren, Mitchell Kapor and other cyberspace leaders led him to see the connections between political power and computer privacy. Very interesting story...

The book is divided into four main parts:

"Computer Privacy Handbook" covers many topics, including Clipper Chip, Digital Telephony, Pretty Good Privacy, Anonymous Remailers, and DigiCash. Two of my favorite sections were Bacard's analysis of the cash-free society and the psychology of privacy.

The book is clearly written with colorful anecdotes.

Bacard gives much praise to EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), and CPSR (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility). These groups must be thrilled by the "Computer Privacy Handbook".

As for my criticism... In the next edition, I hope Bacard will tell American readers what we can learn from pro-privacy movements in other countries. I'd also like him to speculate about future technologies.

Here is Mitchell Kapor's Introduction to "Computer Privacy Handbook." Also I'm including a press release that Bacard ( sent me when I told him I was writing this review.

Introduction to "Computer Privacy Handbook"
Mitchell Kapor
Co-Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Creator of Lotus 1-2-3

Issues of privacy are very much on the minds of those migrating to the wild new regions of the domain we call Cyberspace. What many of us seek in picking up stakes and heading for the electronic frontier is greater overall self-determination in life. This is impossible without being able to control information by and about us. This is the heart of privacy.

Privacy is both a matter of right and of practice. It is a fundamental premise of this country's founding that rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, of which I am a founder, is deeply involved in Washington in the fight to make sure rights such as privacy, as well as freedom of expression, are not abridged in Cyberspace. I am deeply troubled by the profound resistance of certain agencies of the U.S. government to see this matter through to its proper conclusion.

This does not mean we give up the fight to make public policy which increases our privacy and our freedom. Far from it. It only makes us redouble our efforts.

At the same time, it does remind us that we have to look beyond Washington to solve our problems. Mere talk is not enough. When government is unable to respect the rights of individuals and stands in the way of those rights, direct action is required.

Fortunately, powerful, readily available new tools like PGP have been created to put control of privacy much more directly in the hands of the citizens of Cyberspace themselves. Andre Bacard's "Computer Privacy Handbook" is an invaluable guide to both the whole subject of privacy on the net, the politics of privacy, and, most important, to the practical steps one can take right now.

********** Begin Press Release **********
Peachpit Press Print Media Contact: 2414 Sixth Street Trish Booth Berkeley, CA 94710 Gary-Paul Prince Phone (800) 283-9444 or (510) 548-4393 Broadcast Media Contact: Fax (510) 548-5991 Hannah Onstad


"Andre Bacard's "Computer Privacy Handbook" is an invaluable guide to both the whole subject of privacy on the net, the politics of privacy, and, most important, to the practical steps one can take right now."
-- Mitchell Kapor, Creator of Lotus-1-2-3, Co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Bacard's ruthlessly realistic but optimistic book explains the privacy dangers that YOU face and what YOU can do to protect yourself!"
-- Jim Warren, Founder of "InfoWorld", Founder of Computer, Freedom and Privacy Conferences

March 1995, Berkeley, CA. Criminals, competitors (anyone, in fact) can buy a person's IRS forms for $500. An individual's medical records are available to complete strangers. TV star Rebecca Schaffer was shot to death by a computer stalker. These are just some of the horrifying examples of invasions of privacy that author Andre Bacard points out in his new book, "The Computer Privacy Handbook: A Practical Guide to E-Mail Encryption, Data Protection, and PGP Privacy Software."

We live in the Age of Electronic Surveillance, Bacard says, and snooping happens. Given that millions of e-mail messages are exchanged daily, and the Internet buzzes with zillions of bites of online discussions each day, it's easy to see how this could be. But just as computers are part of the problem, they are also part of the solution. Bacard details how individuals can safeguard their electronic privacy using good encryption, proper data protection, and the right software.

"Computer Privacy Handbook" shows how computers threaten YOUR personal security, and it gives YOU the practical tools to reassert YOUR privacy! In this book, find out:

"Computer Privacy Handbook" also contains a user-friendly manual for PGP software. PGP ("Pretty Good Privacy") is a top-rate program to protect your personal and business data files and e-mail from snoops! PGP is the de facto world standard for e-mail privacy.

Author Andre Bacard, who also wrote "Hunger for Power: Who Rules the World and How," has a wide-angle view of society. He has written about technology and society for numerous publications. A guest on hundreds of radio talk shows, he was judged one of the best public speakers in America by the International Platform Association.

Last updated 95/04/27