I Know What You Did Last Night!
by Mike Banks Valentine
Don't try to deny it. I know what you did last night!
One might expect that a line like that could only come from
a jealous wife who has had a private detective follow her
straying hubby, but soon it may come from your wallet or
even your milk carton!
Why would your milk carton care what you did last night? It
doesn't, but it could soon "know" that you passed
store on the way home without picking up a fresh carton of
It will simply ask the garage door opener which was told by
car and then inform your briefcase which will remind your
phone to alert you tomorrow before you pass the market again.
Your checkbook will know your bank balance before you balance
it, so you won't need to balance it. Your car will insist
you take it to the dealership for maintenance before it reaches
the mileage limit set by the manufacturer for required service
to keep the warranty intact. The Secretary of State (or Dept.
of Motor Vehicles [DMV] in some states) will be able to disable
your car if you fail to renew your registration or license.
All of this magic is possible now and in use in some cases.
Your world is very close to being automated, trackable and
recorded in a permanent database. Huge abuses are possible
this strange new world and we need to establish boundaries
limit access to this information before it gets out of those
databases and into any "unsavory" databases. I'll
bet on the
newest action adventure movies in the next few months having
something to do with "Arnold" chasing down a good
was corrupted by an evil data warehousing software developer.
I'm not a doomsayer, so I'll address these issues by suggesting
that we all remain aware, informed and alert to the possibility
of abuses so that we can stop them from occurring.
I am a technology enthusiast so I welcome these developments
for what they mean in terms of convenience and in making my
easier. The wireless web, BlueTooth technology, embedded chips,
bar codes and information databases make it all easily do-able.
For those of you unfamiliar with BlueTooth
technology let me put
in its simplest terms (limit of my own understanding) it allows
antyhing with this low frequency radio transmission to "talk"
with anything else with the same embedded technology. This
that inanimate objects can communicate with each other whenever
they are within a specific physical proximity to each other.
PRIVACY as we've known it in the past may be unattainable
shall I say, un-maintainable. Public uproar at well publicized
issues such as the ToySmart.com database being sold as an
in its bankruptcy, when it had promised that information would
never be sold, illustrate how information on YOU could be
resold, sold on the blackmarket, hacked from multiplicity
sources or simply stored for access by big brother.
Suffice it to say that information, in the information economy,
has the value we used to assign to precious metals or gemstones.
When things have value, they are susceptible to theft, graft,
bribes and criminal abuses by bad guys. Information is golden
and precious. We need to define a new type of "Fort Knox"
information sources. Security, encryption and permission levels
to access distribute, store and manage all types of information
that exists in millions of databases that could all be easily
I was told today of a web site that exists allowing you to
snail mail to someone by entering their email address in a
form. DoubleClick was thoroughly reamed for publicly announcing
their intention to merge online and offline databases for
that ability, yet other companies are operating quietly without
public outcry. Because they are doing it without telling us.
"I know what you did last night" may soon be a wonderful
welcome comment if it comes from your milk carton. Let's just
keep that information in the family of inanimate objects and
out of the hands of the government, criminals, telemarketers
and unsavory data warehousing software developers.
A recent privacy uproar concerns the public posting of ICQ
logs from the PC of a web company CEO concerning internal
private discussions over the instant messaging service.
In this case it was someone having access to the same PC that
led to the security breach, but it has fired discussions about
how instant messaging text is served and how and where it
stored and who has access to those logs, how they might be
accessed externally and by whom and if they are encrypted.
This is the un-nerving side of ease of access to information
but there are also some seriously funny thoughts on privacy:
The link above will take you to a hilarious article describing
"continuous series of detachable, 480x480-pixel square
complete with Bluetooth wireless communications!"
This "display" innovation may get more personal
than you think
since it comes as the newest version of "Free Toilet
Talk about getting personal with privacy issues!
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