We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

They’ve got your number

The Montreal Gazette has a comprehensive article about how cutting-edge technologies work as tattle-tales for a surveillance-minded state containing warnings by Canadian privacy advocates. Stephanie Perrin, president of Digital Discretion in Montreal says:

There is a widening and yawning gap between the surveillance that is actually happening and people’s understanding for the capacity for surveillance. People just have no clue, and I’m describing intelligent people. At the very broad level, we have a society that thinks it’s democratic and absolutely has no concept of what the technology does.

Personal information often lies dormant in huge data banks that people contribute to constantly – through use of everyday items such as credit cards and telephones. Increasingly, corporate, government and law enforcement entities sift through that material with sophisticated data-mining programs, looking for relationships between individuals and whatever interests them.

Cellular telephones and vehicles can be tracked, too. The term telematics refers to any marriage of location-tracking technologies, such as global positioning systems, with wireless communications, such as cellphones. Applications include General Motors’ OnStar program. The Telematics Research Group estimates that by 2008, more than 40 per cent of new vehicles in the United States will have some form of telematics.

There is no question that law enforcement agencies have used tracking technology to solve crimes, possibly save lives. It’s all relative. Knowing exactly where employees are may be reasonable in a hazardous chemical plant but less reasonable in an insurance office.

Even though I’m a screaming privacy advocate, there is an argument on the other side for this stuff. That’s what makes it so difficult and so easy to give everything away.

There is more interesting (and frightening) stuff in the article such as Privacy Timeline: The Data Trail, read the whole thing.

There is a dilemma, I agree. But I disagree about it being a straightforward trade-off between security and privacy. When it comes to everyday technologies, one way to decide how to use a particular technology is what effect it has on the individual and how much power it gives to the state over that individual.

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