Bluetooth and Data Warehousing

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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 the grocery
store on the way home without picking up a fresh carton of milk.
It will simply ask the garage door opener which was told by the
car and then inform your briefcase which will remind your cell
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 that
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 in
this strange new world and we need to establish boundaries and
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 database that
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 life
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 means
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 or
shall I say, un-maintainable. Public uproar at well publicized
issues such as the database being sold as an asset
in its bankruptcy, when it had promised that information would
never be sold, illustrate how information on YOU could be sold,
resold, sold on the blackmarket, hacked from multiplicity of
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" for
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 send
snail mail to someone by entering their email address in a web
form. DoubleClick was thoroughly reamed for publicly announcing
their intention to merge online and offline databases for exactly
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 and
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 is
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 a
"continuous series of detachable, 480x480-pixel square displays,
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 Paper with
Banner Ads".

Talk about getting personal with privacy issues!

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July 29, 2001