Friday, April 16, 2010

1984 in 2010: There is no such thing as privacy

I remember when On Star first came out as an option for vehicles. I swore I'd never have that on my car, but On Star went from being an option to being standard on all vehicles. Want a new car? You get it.

A few years ago, I got tired of driving the Mommy Bus (aka Yukon XL). The thing was making me feel old. My brand new GMC Acadia came with On Star. One night, cruising down the freeway with the twins in their booster seats, my radio cut out and a booming voice came through my speakers. It scared me to death! It was On Star informing me that my free year of service was about to expire. Beyond the obvious concern that this could have caused a wreck, I don't need people butting in on the privacy I (perceive to) enjoy in my own car.

I am an honest, law-abiding, Christian person, but I don't like the idea of my whereabouts being tracked at any time. A quick search on how to disable On Star revealed that it is so entwined with other systems, it's nearly impossible to disable.

Sure the technology seems like it could be helpful. Who hasn't heard the commercials about the mother whose kid is locked in the car or the family who has just been in an accident? But what happens when that technology falls into the wrong hands? The government took over GM last year. Still feeling warm and fuzzy about your On Star?

Invasions to your privacy are everywhere. Cell phones are equipped with GPS tracking (for your own good, don'cha know? How else would we know where you are when you call 911?). You can't drive through an intersection without being captured on camera. Your email and search engine track sites you visit to tailor advertisements to your interests.

It was announced a couple of days ago, that the Library of Congress is acquiring the entire Twitter archive. And perhaps the most scary thing, Yahoo is involved in a court case against the federal government to protect the privacy of its customers. The government, thwarting the 4th Amendment, contends that e-mail messages which have already been read are not subject to the protection of the US Stored Communications Act. The government is trying to force Yahoo to turn over their archives without a warrant.

Whether we like it or not, Big Brother is watching....

Some other links about the Yahoo case:

Google backs Yahoo in Privacy fight with DoJ

Yahoo, Feds Battle Over E-Mail Privacy

EFF Backs Yahoo! to Protect User from Warrantless Email Search

1 comment:

  1. technology does have its uses, but I worry as you do, that intrusion/abuse of privacy is major. how else does "the powers-that-be" get us to be fearful to speak out? this is the way to erode free speech without actually making a constitutional battle for all to see.

    what was it Orwell said? Something like "The good is bad."? Help me with some really great quotes from 1984! And then see how they are being used today.