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Thursday, November 18, 2004

If you are a libertarian or a privacy advocate, don't read this
Lonewacko has commented on the wonderful benefits that technology can bring to our lives, making our lives more wonderful and everyone happy happy happy. See here:

Using this system, drivers could be charged by the mile depending on how they use the roadways. States currently have gas taxes, but new, more fuel-efficient cars mean less gas tax revenue....This new system could allow a true, fair, level playing field for drivers. Those drivers who spend a lot of time on a freeway downtown during rush hour will pay more; those who drive during off-peak hours will pay less. Drivers could start allocating how much time they spend on each type of street....

And, it's only going to get better! Insurance companies could use this system to lower rates for safe drivers. The GPS could be used to determine how fast a driver goes and even if they change lanes too often....

In fact, the police could even use these systems to automatically fine those who speed or park in handicapped parking spaces. And, what if a heinous crime is committed in your neighborhood or against a loved one? The police would be able to subpoena the records of all those drivers who were in the area at the time. The innocent would be eliminated from their list of suspects, and the guilty would be quickly caught....

Or, imagine if there's a possible terror attack....The cars of suspected terrorists could be monitored without the need for costly and error-prone physical surveillance.

But, bear in mind, the data recorded by these devices would only be used by those authorized to receive the data. The computer systems can be programmed to only give out information to the various departments of transportation or law enforcement agencies. It's only a few "Nervous Nellies" and "Worried Wilberts" who care about things like "usage creep." To be frank, while some people are concerned about civil liberties, most people are not. Let's face it: if the government wanted to track you, they have other ways to do it.

This is simply a smart - and cost-saving - use of technology that's already available. I applaud its use and I strongly encourage everyone to do the same.

In the comments area, I responded "[i]n the same spirit":

I join in the praise of these wonderful capabilities.

But they don't go far enough. Do they include sensors that detect when you are smoking in the car, or when you are eating red meat or (heaven forbid) fish? This information could be provided directly to life insurance agencies.

And the devices should also have sound sensors that detect the music and radio stations that you listen to. For example, you may have heard that a few radio hotheads (currently subject to a Federal Elections Commission investigation for unfair political practices) have been a mite critical about this new policy. People who listen to this radio station must be neutralized...uh...re-educated to see the error of their ways.

I encourage everyone to read Lonewacko's entry and provide comments.

Just don't count the Electronic Frontier Foundation as an admirer:

Others are concerned about the privacy implications of a tracking device inside automobiles.

"Once you have the technology, the cat's out of the bag. There's no going back to the time when it's harder to get that information," said Anna Lee Newitz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Who has access to that information? There's no discussion right now on controls being placed on that."

Governor Schwarzenegger, who appointed Borucki, said he needed more time to think the idea through.

Terminate it, Arnold.

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