[Privacy] NYTimes: A Pass on Privacy?

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/magazine/17WWLN.html

Sort of meanders around, but the basic point is about privacy vs convenience.


The E-ZPass system, as it is called on the East Coast, seemed like idle gadgetry when it was introduced a decade ago. Drivers who acquired the passes had to nose their way across traffic to reach specially equipped tollbooths -- and slow to a crawl while the machinery worked its magic. But now the sensors are sophisticated enough for you to whiz past them. As more lanes are dedicated to E-ZPass, lines lengthen for the saps [JIH - ie, people like me] paying cash.

E-ZPass is one of many innovations that give you the option of trading a bit of privacy for a load of convenience. You can get deep discounts by ordering your books from Amazon.com or joining a supermarket ''club.'' In return, you surrender information about your purchasing habits. Some people see a bait-and-switch here. Over time, the data you are required to hand over become more and more personal, and such handovers cease to be optional.

...

The potential applications multiply: what if state policemen in the United States rigged E-ZPass machines to calculate average highway speeds between toll plazas -- something easily doable with today's machinery -- and to automatically ticket cars that exceed 65 m.p.h.?

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People waver on whether to trade privacy for convenience, but they're pretty untroubled about trading privacy for security. On occasion, E-ZPass records have been used to track down criminal suspects.

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