Tuesday, December 18, 2012

They *are* watching you

In recent months I've posted less often than previously about privacy concerns. That's not because threats to our privacy have abated -- far from it. Rather, I grew weary of there being so many encroachments.

The privacy-centric news -- and not just Internet regulation ITU-style (see my days-ago post, "Big Brother redux") -- continues to be discouraging ...

How would you feel about your DVR watching you -- not what you're viewing on your TV, but you -- and using what it sees to target you with ads? Verizon thinks that would be keen. As in, "New DVR will use camera and microphone to target advertisements based on recordings of users." As it happens, "Verizon patent application for TV snooping tech rejected." I won't guess whether the absence of patent protection will stop this plan -- the payoff to Verizon from this technology will come from advertisers paying more for targeted commercials, not from set-top box manufacturers.

Remember how HIPAA regulations were going to protect your medical data? As always, there's a loophole. See "Heart Gadgets Test Privacy-Law Limits." Just because (as an example) it's your heart, and the gadget is in your chest, doesn't mean you have rights to the data being reported to -- and perhaps sold to medical researchers by -- the device manufacturer.

And then there's the case of "Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear a School-Issued RFID Tracker." (Not familiar with radio frequency identification, and its potential for abuse? See my 2009 post, "Tag, you're it.")

Whether or not we have a right to privacy, it's harder and harder to actual experience privacy.

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