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Are Americans
Trading Their Privacy
For High-Tech Gadgetry?

I am shocked at how so many Americans are willing to trade their freedoms and personal privacy for a few high-tech gadgets with promises of a better, more secure life. All the while mega-size corporations as well as the federal government say, "Come on, you can trust us."

It's for sure that only 10 short years ago the majority of Americans would have looked at these gadgets as an infraction on their personal freedoms and right to privacy. Today, for a small measure of convenience, they are willing to make concessions, regardless what the long-term consequences may be.

Take for example the elite of high-tech, GPS-based systems designed for the automobile. They allow someone to determine the whereabouts of the driver. One commercial shows an older couple telling how their air bags deployed after a slight mishap. Within a few minutes someone called them on their cellular phone to tell them that their air bags had deployed. That person asked it they needed an ambulance, but the old man said no, send a tow truck.

The accuracy of the GPS (Global Positioning System) enables anyone with access to the right computer network to deterimine the location of a target within a 10 meter area. What this means is that if someone, anyone wants to know where you are at any given time, all they have to do is punch up your unique identifier and the system will ID your location.

Even those who use an ordinary cellular telephone can or soon will be trackable at least down to the individual cell in which they are currently operating. Ten to twenty years ago if you and I had been told that one day we'd be offered the option of having someone determine our location using a black box mounted inside of our car or a small communication device in our pockets, we would have told them to take a royal leap off a tall bridge, no? Today many of us actually pay so they can track our whereabouts. Not me.

Some people will automatically reason that only those who work for the communication company have access to such data, but this is simply not true. The GPS network is quite extensive and considering all the integration of databases that is now going on, as well as additional mandates recently enacted by this administration, it is quite conceivable that in the near future anyone with access to a government computer and a minimum security classification could obtain that information.

I foresee the day when the federal government will require all private, corporate databases be integrated with federal computer networks. Your neighborhood bank, grocery store, public school, state government, and more would automatically be accessible to anyone with access to the federal computer network, providing their security clearance is high enough. The sad part about this is that you and I will pay for the leased telephone lines and long-term maintenance associated with this abominable interconnection.

Remember, historically when a people lose their privacy, they eventually lose their freedom.


Al Colombo

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By Alicia Colombo
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Copyright©1999 Allan B. Colombo