A really bad idea but an interesting benchmark

Gerry Beuchelt has this to say about a privacy disaster being considered by the state of Massachusetts:

However, one suggestion Mr. Patrick made yesterday immediately got my attention: there are apparently plans on the table to introduce a “chip” in the state’s vehicle inspection stickers, so that cars can be tracked as they use the Commonwealth’s highway system. What might seem like a prudent idea to shift the cost of the transportation infrastructure to those that are causing them, is in reality an attempt to introduce an Orwellian surveillance system of European proportions.

I love the term “Orwellian surveillance system of European proportions”. How bad has the situation gotten in Europe that it is now the benchmark by which other privacy destroying initiatives are ridiculed? Not gloating from me, however. The US seems determined to catch up to Europe in the race to surrender every last shred of dignity and privacy in the most feckless manner possible.

Gerry goes on to say this about the proposal:

The potential for abuse is scary:

  • With location data, one can attempt to create a political profile by tracking conventions, conferences, and events a person goes to. I am not a lawyer, but this seems to be getting rather close to infringing a couple of First Amendment rights.
  • The collected data can be subpoena in all kinds of litigations, including sensitive things like divorce proceedings or insurance disputes.
  • If the database is ever breached, the hacker could have a field day, exposing location profiles of individuals. Depending on whose data is stolen, this could actually result in increased personal risk for exposed persons.

Gerry is absolutely right. I have previously blogged here about the second bullet point in reference to toll road transponders. That data has already been abused and that is only used by a small portion of the driving population.

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One response to “A really bad idea but an interesting benchmark

  1. Thanks for the kudos… here are a few more comments:

    http://blog.beuchelt.org/2009/02/12/European+Privacy+An+Oxymoron.aspx

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