Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Benign Spying?

I'm not convinced that this is a justice issue but it's been on my mind lately. Probably put there by the president and his "for our own good" spying program. Yeah, right, for our own good.

But in my wallet, you will find a grocery store loyalty card. And one for the coffee shop. And one for the sporting goods store. And probably others, as well; I'm too lazy to get up and go look. My car has an IPass glued to the windshield. I use all of them. But every time I do, I wonder why I do. I'm trading privacy for lower prices, and is that worth it?

I don't want to become a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist. It must be said, however, that frequently when I dismiss some potentially invasive use of a technology as too outrageous to ever actually be used, sure enough it IS being used. Witness the government and radiation monitoring outside mosques. I don't really want to equate the grocery store with radiation monitoring; it's just that the intrusive use of technology is on my mind. I get it that the grocery store wants to monitor inventory and purchasing habits, but why do they need to be able to link that information back to me, personally? And really do I care if I get coupons for tofu printed on the back of my receipt? I lose the receipt, one way or the other.

And here's a hypothetical situation. At least I think it's hypothetical. The IPass (automatic toll-paying) technology could, perhaps, be used to intercept a child-abductor by tracking his or her car through the toll booths. (Although, knowing that, you'd be a fairly stupid criminal to actually use the tollways.) And wouldn't that be great? But it could also be used to figure out where I am and when -and hypothetical conclusions could be drawn as to why. And the fact that no one would bother to do that about me, because what difference do I make and I have nothing to hide in any case, isn't a good enough argument. If "they" are doing it to anybody, then everybody's rights are truncated.

Do you guys use these cards? Why or why not? Discuss. ;)

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