Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Bro

There is some action over at Anti-Strib regarding the warrantless surveillance debate. The issue is non as far as I am concerned. I don't believe our government has the wherewithal nor the resources to surveil people that aren't doing something worth surveilling. Harry Reid is pursuing an issue that most Americans couldn't give a rip about....and don't tell me its a matter of principal because that guy doesn't have any...he just likes being pissed off about whatever the Republicans are doing.

The result? Law enforcement, already outnumbered and at a disadvantage domestically and abroad have their hands tied in such a way that prevents them from doing their job in a timely way as they wait for warrants while the bad guys get away or the opportunity is gone. I think most Americans understand that in order to be safe, or at least feel safe, we have to relinquish some of privacy. I think most Americans feel that if you aren't doing anything wrong, you probably don't have to worry about privacy too much.

The irony is, most Americans probably have no idea how much personal data is out there as it is, and by their own choices. Privacy is an illusion just like job security.

There are cameras and probably listening devices in many public places, and in this day and age of terrorism and as they become cheaper to deploy, they will become more ubiquitous. We all leave trails of images and data.

Case in point. I logged onto my MNPass account tonight. I have one of those windshield transponders so I can pay to play in the "sane lane". It beeps when you go under the entry point transmitters to acknowledge that I have been recognized. It beeps when there is a charge or not.

08/03/07 13:44 Highway 169 Interchange 0.00
08/08/07 08:39 Highway 169 Interchange -1.00
08/09/07 11:23 Hwy 169 0.00
08/09/07 12:55 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
08/14/07 11:19 Hwy 169 0.00
08/14/07 12:35 Ridgedale Drive 0.00
08/20/07 09:29 I-494 to Hwy 169 -0.25
08/29/07 11:29 Hwy 169 to Ridgedale Dr 0.00
08/29/07 12:50 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
09/06/07 09:27 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -0.25
09/14/07 13:45 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
09/18/07 14:38 Wirth Pkwy -0.25
09/21/07 09:59 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -0.25
09/28/07 14:17 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
10/02/07 14:20 Wirth Pkwy -0.25
10/03/07 12:31 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 0.00
10/07/07 13:31 Louisiana Avenue 0.00
10/07/07 14:30 Wirth Pkwy to Ridgedale -0.25
10/09/07 08:52 Wirth Parkway -0.75
10/10/07 08:12 Ridgedale Dr to Hwy 169 -1.75

What I didn't realize, but should have, is that even when there isn't a charge, the device logs my passage. Even more interesting is that it logs my location. If it weren't for the recent unwinding of the stoplight camera debacle, It wouldn't be hard to imagine the authorities logging my entry and exit to and from the sane lane, calculating my speed, and sending me a ticket.

Even the traffic management cameras have been used to solve crimes and deconstruct accidents. Soon they will have enough resolution to identify license plates and even drivers.

Did you know your car may have a black box in it? For some time now, many manufacturers have been putting devices in cars to record a set history of desired data streams like accelerator position, brake force, speed and yaw rate. Purportedly the purpose of these devices is to provide data useful for warranty issues and for product improvement but they already have been subject to subpoenas.

It won't be long before every car has a GPS device in it. Do you suppose that will somehow end up being connected to the black box?

We all want to have certain aspects of our life to remain private. In fact I wish some people desired it more. For example, what you do in your bedroom is your business, I don't need to see a bumper sticker telling me what your lifestyle choices are, thank you.

Nonetheless, If you really want to keep your life a secret, best stay home.

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