Street wise, privacy foolish

Street wise, privacy foolish

Today’s Boston Globe runs a breathless article about an MIT project that tracks cars in real time. The cars are loaded with sensors that connect to open wireless Internet access points as they drive by, sending data about their position, speed, the condition of the road, and so on.

The researchers have used the data to determine the fastest route during rush hour, to help a limo service track and deploy its vehicles most efficiently, and to track potholes by the way they affect the accelerometers used in the sensors.

Throughout the article, everyone involved—including the reporter who should have been more objective—is unabashedly positive about the promise of the technology for helping drivers get around traffic, to analyze vehicle performance, and so on and so forth.

Yet, the reporter never asks the obvious question and the researchers are not recorded as bringing it up: Who in their right mind wants to put a tracking device in their own car?

Officer, please record my every move

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  • If you are speeding you are breaking the law and deserve to be punished for it.  The real issue with speed enoforcement is the rediculously low speed limits on most of our roads. I mean, come on you’d get killed going 65 on I-90.

    My problem with the camera’s is not the enforcement of just, and morally neutral laws, but the real possibility of misuse by those in power to enforce truly unjust laws.  A moronically low speed limit is really the least offensive of unjust laws, if we think back about the past 100 years of history we realize that such technology could, can, and most likely will (or has) been used to enforce 1984esque laws against the persons right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

    We fool ourselves if we believe that even here in the good old USA we are immune to tyranny and despotism.

    Technology is only as moral as its uses, and this type of technolgy has the potential for great abuses.  Yet, despite the dangers, people in Britain and elsewhere are signing the safety of annonymity away in the name of safety.  They may regret it one day.

  • Given the tracking potentials (like a black box on planes) I could imagine drivers receiving a quarterly (monthly?) statement from the state requesting $xx amount for violations. 

    “On such and such date at such and such intersection, your vehicle failed to come to a complete stop…”

    On the date of yyy at 4:17PM along interstate 280, you traveled at 68 mph, which is above the posted speed limit…”