There is a good article in the BBC News website about the trends and impacts of technology -- namely about how "big data" is transforming the entire planet. "Big data" refers to information companies and governments collect about consumers. They collect this information from a variety of sources:
"... not only from posts to social media sites, mobile signals and purchase transactions but increasingly from sensors on objects from lamp-posts to skyscrapers...In Birmingham, lamp-posts are being fitted with sensors that can transmit information about cloud cover to offer hyper-local weather forecasting. In Norway, more than 40,000 bus stops are tweeting, allowing passengers to leave messages about their experiences... At MIT's Senseable City Lab, 5,000 pieces of rubbish in Seattle were geo-tagged and tracked around the country for three months to find out whether recycling was really efficient..."
You've probably noticed video surveillance cameras on street lights across the country. That's another source. This blog has reported about many other sources:
- Retail store mannequins outfitted with video cameras,
- Supermarket shopping carts outfitted with tablet computers,
- E-reader devices,
- Your bank,
- Wearable computers,
- Consumer credit reports,
- Social networking websites that collect and resell your video/photo metadata,
- Tracking devices at vacation resorts,
- Government surveillance programs,
- Smart recycling trash bins,
- Smart home utility meters,
- Passenger vehicles outfitted with embedded computers,
- Leaky mobile apps,
- Leaky apps at social netowrking websites,
- The app store for your mobile devices, and perhaps most important of all...
- Your smart phone (or tablet) that tracks your movements in the physical world 24/7/365.
All of these types of devices will be used more and more in what people call a "smart city:"
"The core functionality of a smart city requires a vast amount data to be collected on every aspect of our lives every minute of every day. The question is how does that data get used? And it doesn't require a huge amount of imagination to see how it could be used to monitor people... the control of information is being taken away from citizens, and companies providing services are rushing to find ways of generating revenue from the data they hold. The danger is... individuals will not be able to control the ways they are monitored or what happens to the information, which is exactly the opposite of how it should be."
It seems to me, you can distill all of this into a single issue about consumers:
"... People have clicked "yes" to those terms but don't realise that everything you share can be collected. We could be walking blindly into a 24/7 surveillance society..."
We have traded privacy for convenience.
Are you walking blindly? Are you willing to continue trading convenience for privacy? Are you willing to question online processes, privacy disclosures, and website terms of usage? Are you willing to push back and say: enough? Are you willing to demand that your elected officials place consumer protections before privacy abuses happen, and not minor, ineffective protections afterwards? Are you willing to support any of the consumer advocacy groups that look out for your privacy?