Technology Extends the Home

  • Chris Berg
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


New technologies both create new privacy dilemmas and expand privacy expectations. This chapter looks at four economic-technological changes since the nineteenth century—the penny post, the telegraph, the telephony, and digital communications such as email—to see how these new ways to communicate have interacted with privacy. Cheap, ubiquitous letters contributed to the idea that private communication could be an extension of the private home—a domain of intimate relationships—but was vulnerable to surveillance. Telegraphy and early telephony involved third parties to process and establish communications. New privacy technologies—such as cryptography and automatic switchboards—were invented to tackle these privacy risks. Finally the chapter considers electronic communication systems such as email and how many of the these historical patterns are still evident today.


  1. Aronson, Sidney H. “The Lancet on the Telephone 1876–1975.” Medical History 21, no. 1 (1977): 69.Google Scholar
  2. Baron, Naomi S. “Letters by Phone or Speech by Other Means: The Linguistics of Email.” Language and Communication 18 (1998): 13370.Google Scholar
  3. Bronitt, Simon, and James Stellios. “Telecommunications Interception in Australia: Recent Trends and Regulatory Prospects.” Telecommunications Policy 29, no. 11 (2005): 87588.Google Scholar
  4. Cerf, Vint. “Hangout with Vint Cerf.” By Leo Laporte. TWiT Hangouts, 2 April 2014).Google Scholar
  5. Coase, Ronald H. “Rowland Hill and the Penny Post.” Economica 6, no. 24 (1939): 42335.Google Scholar
  6. De Sola Pool, I. Forecasting the Telephone: A Retrospective Technology Assessment. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1983.Google Scholar
  7. “The Diary of a Telephone Girl: The Work of a Human Spider in a Web of Talking Wires.” The Saturday Evening Post, 19 October 1907.Google Scholar
  8. Dickson, Harris. “‘Hello’ Girls.” The Saturday Evening Post, 26 September 1908, 1416.Google Scholar
  9. Diffie, Whitfield, and Martin E. Hellman. “New Directions in Cryptography.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory 22, no. 6 (1976): 64454.Google Scholar
  10. Ferraiolo, David F., D. Richard Kuhn, and Ramaswamy Chandramouli. Role-Based Access Control. Boston and London: Artech House, 2003.Google Scholar
  11. Frissen, Valerie. “Gender is Calling: Some Reflections on Past, Present and Future Uses of the Telephone.” In The Gender-Technology Relation: Contemporary Theory and Research, edited by Keith Grint and Rosalind Gill, 7994. London: Taylor and Francis, 1995.Google Scholar
  12. Gregory, Derek. “The Friction of Distance? Information Circulation and the Mails in Early Nineteenth-Century England.” Journal of Historical Geography 13, no. 2 (1987): 13054.Google Scholar
  13. Hafner, Katie, and Matthew Lyon. Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.Google Scholar
  14. Hardy, Ian R. “The Evolution of Arpanet Email.” University of California at Berkeley, 1996.Google Scholar
  15. Hill, Rowland. Post Office Reform: Its Importance and Practicability. London: C. Knight, 1837.Google Scholar
  16. James, Henry. In the Cage. London: Duckworth and Co., 1898.Google Scholar
  17. Kahn, David. The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet. New York: Scribner’s and Sons, 1996.Google Scholar
  18. Kaplan, Howard J., Joseph A. Matteo, and Richard Sillett. “The History and Law of Wiretapping.” In ABA Section of Litigation 2012 Section Annual Conference, 2012.Google Scholar
  19. LaFleur, Kendal Stephens, and Lei Chen. “Email Encryption: Discovering Reasons Behind Its Lack of Acceptance.” Paper presented at the Proceedings of the International Conference on Security and Management (SAM), 2014.Google Scholar
  20. Lapsley, Phil. Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws Who Hacked Ma Bell. New York: Grove Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  21. Levy, Steven. Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution—25th Anniversary Edition. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, 2010.Google Scholar
  22. Lipartito, Kenneth. “When Women were Switches: Technology, Work, and Gender in the Telephone Industry, 18901920.” American Historical Review 99, no. 4 (1994): 1075111.Google Scholar
  23. Marshall, Alan. Intelligence and Espionage in the Reign of Charles Ii, 16601685. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  24. Martin, Michèle. Hello, Central?: Gender, Technology, and Culture in the Formation of Telephone Systems. Montreal and Buffalo: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  25. Martin, Michele. “‘Rulers of the Wires?’ Women’s Contribution to the Structure of Means of Communication.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 12, no. 2 (1988): 89103.Google Scholar
  26. Marvin, C. When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  27. Michalowski, P., and E. Reiner. Letters from Early Mesopotamia. Scholars Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  28. Middeljans, April. “‘Weavers of Speech’: Telephone Operators as Defiant Domestics in American Literature and Culture.” Journal of Modern Literature 33, no. 3 (2010): 3863.Google Scholar
  29. Moyal, Ann. “The Gendered Use of the Telephone: An Australian Case Study.” Media, Culture & Society 14, no. 1 (1992): 5172.Google Scholar
  30. “Opening Letters at the Post Office.” Law Magazine: Or Quarterly Review of Jurisprudence 3233 (1844): 24857.Google Scholar
  31. Oppenheim, A. Leo. Letters from Mesopotamia: Official, Business, and Private Letters on Clay Tablets from Two Millennia. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  32. Orman, Hilarie. Encrypted Email: The History and Technology of Message Privacy. Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht and London: Springer International, 2015.Google Scholar
  33. Oxford Pro Bono Publico. “Legal Opinion on Intercept Communication.” In The Justice Project. University of Oxford, 2006.Google Scholar
  34. Petersen, J.K. Understanding Surveillance Technologies: Spy Devices, Their Origins & Applications. New York: Auerbach Publications, 2007.Google Scholar
  35. Rakow, Lana F. “Women and the Telephone: The Gendering of a Communications Technology.” In Technology and Women’s Voices: Keeping in Touch, edited by Cheris Kramarae, 17999. Routledge & Kegan Paul Inc., 1988.Google Scholar
  36. Salgado, Richard. “Transparency Report: What It Takes for Governments to Access Personal Information.” In Google Public Policy Blog, 2013.Google Scholar
  37. Savoy, Eric. “‘In the Cage’ and the Queer Effects of Gay History.” Paper presented at the Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 1995.Google Scholar
  38. Standage, Tom. The Victorian Internet. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1998.Google Scholar
  39. Thurschwell, Pamela. Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking, 18801920. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  40. Tomlinson, Ray. “The First Network Email.”
  41. Tomokiyo, S. “Telegraph Regulations and Telegraph Codes.”
  42. Twain, Mark. “A Telephonic Conversation.” The Atlantic, June 1880.Google Scholar
  43. Vincent, David. I Hope I Don’t Intrude: Privacy and Its Dilemmas in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  44. ———. “Surveillance, Privacy and History.” Policy Papers, 1 October 2013.Google Scholar
  45. Weisband, Suzanne P., and Bruce A. Reinig. “Managing User Perceptions of Email Privacy.” Communications of the ACM 38, no. 12 (1995): 4047.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Berg
    • 1
  1. 1.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations