Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets: Legal and Social Controls over Reputation, Propriety, and Privacy. Lawrence Friedman. Stanford, 2007. Pp ix, 348.

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. Daniel J. Solove. Yale, 2007. Pp vii, 247.

Worrying about privacy is a growth industry. The public is highly concerned about how its personal information is collected, stored, and processed. Technology companies compete to create new applications that will analyze personal data and meet new needs, such as the ability to broadcast one’s GPS data to family and friends (no more lunches alone). The government is interested in access to personal data for law enforcement, regulatory, and administrative purposes. And the media, when not reporting on the latest privacy invasions by companies or government, is publishing “tell-all” stories on anyone viewed as newsworthy, that is, deemed worthy of its attention.

Two excellent guides to this cauldron of law, social change, and technology have now been published. These are Lawrence Friedman’s Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets, and Daniel Solove’s The Future of Reputation. The focus of the first book is on past attitudes toward privacy and how the modern legal era of privacy emerged in the twentieth century. It also contains some thoughts about the future of privacy. The second book picks up the story and brings it into the future of the Internet, bloggers, and social networking sites.