Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

Sprint Sees You When You’re Sleeping…

cellphoneofprovidenceSprint has provided location updates on cell phone clients 8 million times in the last year.

Presumably most of these were from a small percentage of the people targeted, but still the general idea is incredibly troubling. Clearly there were not 8 million warrants issued for this information. Instead, it appears that law enforcement was able to make automated requests against the Sprint database – just computer-to-computer information exchange.

The monstrous deluge of useful data that can be captured in our Internet-ed society has a pair of repercussions. First, we can capture far more information about people now than was imaginable even 15 years ago. Second, we as consumers tend to de-value our privacy.

There was a study a few years back that demonstrated that the average person would give a tremendous amount of virtual personal information up to a corporate entity for a low-value tangible item. I seem to remember a cheeseburger.

The datamining possible with current technologies has huge repercussions we have only begun to wrestle with. You want to pull up a Google map of all the foreclosed-upon properties in your area? You can do it. You want to pull up the names and addresses of everyone who signed an anti-gay rights petition? You can do that too. Information like this used to be practically secret because of the difficulties of obtaining it.

We’re broadcasting more information about ourselves, and at the same time more of the general information about our lives is online and accessible.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy¬†said a decade ago: “You have zero privacy. Get over it.”

I don’t want to get over it. I want there to be privacy laws to protect me from companies like his, and like Sprint.

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