Do We Need A Privacy Commission To Examine The Privacy Implications Of All New Products?

from the how-to-kill-innovation-dead dept

There's been some talk today about how researchers are pointing out that the Nike+iPod sports kit can be used to track people, with the researchers in question going so far as to claim that there's "a need for independent oversight and investigation of these technologies before they go to market." This seems a bit extreme. Basically, what the researchers found is that you could, with some amount of effort, create a device that would be able to read whether or not someone wearing the device (which is designed to track your running information by clipping it to your shoes, and make it easy to pass on to your iPod via RFID) was nearby. You would have to be less than 60 feet away to make it work -- which seems pretty close. The whole thing sounds fairly impractical. While the researchers discuss the possibility of placing these devices near people's homes to track when they come or go from the house, others are pointing out that it's probably a hell of a lot more effective to just sit in a car and watch the house instead. Either way, it seems pretty ridiculous to say that no product should go to market without first getting approved for privacy issues from some "oversight" committee. If the offering is really a problem, news stories like these will make it clear, and the market for them will disappear quickly. If people are fine with the privacy implications, then why stop them from buying?

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  • identicon
    nonuser, 4 Dec 2006 @ 9:27pm

    privacy may be a lost cause

    Just as Gordon Moore is now more famous for his conjecture on semiconductor economics than for being founder and CEO of Intel, I fear that Scott McNealy will one day be mostly known for having said, "You have zero privacy today - get over it".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Benjamin, 4 Dec 2006 @ 9:43pm

    Poor assumption

    "If people are fine with the privacy implications, then why stop them from buying??"

    1. The general public usually does not know of these privacy issues at time of purchase.
    2. News media, be it national or local, can no longer effectively reach all citizens to inform them every time these problems occur.
    3. The general public is not equipped to assess risk intelligently when it comes to issues of security, privacy, and identity management.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    benji, 4 Dec 2006 @ 10:21pm

    Privacy maybe for the dogs

    OMG!!! people can track me while im running!!

    privacy has become very askewed i think in our modern day and age, and (im guessing!!!) that not to many people really care or are aware that they may be under constant supervision or not...eh..so what really is the big deal??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PhysicsGuy, 4 Dec 2006 @ 11:22pm

    this is nothing more than an attempt for publicity by the researchers. frankly... i don't see why we don't just ban all technology, it's all the devil's work anyways... :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    eva, 5 Dec 2006 @ 4:42am

    Why privacy is important...

    I don't know if you are aware of this, but for the last 4 years the US Government has been giving citizens that have travelled outside of the US (Paris, for instance!) computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061201/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/traveler_screening_6

    I don't know what you guys think about it, but the fact that the US authorities have been given access to travel records from all travellers, the vast majority of them absolutely innocent (breaking the right to privacy granted by documents like the UN's universal declaration of human rights), means in this particular case that the people affected no longer have a clean criminal record. And the implication that has to a person's life is obvious...

    Yep, the iPod+Nike example is not the best, and the researchers really wanted a bit of publicity... but still, data privacy is much more important than mass media or governments worldwide want us to believe.

    Kind regards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MadJo (profile), 5 Dec 2006 @ 5:07am

    Privacy is dead... get over it.

    As Steve Rambam puts it "Privacy is dead... get over it" :)

    http://www.hopenumbersix.net/speakers.html#pid2

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2006 @ 6:51am

    I'd like to make a monitoring site...

    One day, I will make a website where results of RFID monitoring can be displayed. Then write software that can be run on any RFID/GPS enabled computer.

    Basically, the software would just look for RFID's and then post the ID to the website, along with the global coordinates and the GMT...

    The whole thing will be anonymous. No filtering on what gets uploaded. Oh yeah, and a webpage to allow people to search by...

    Think that will open any eyes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PhysicsGuy, 5 Dec 2006 @ 9:00am

    Re: I'd like to make a monitoring site...

    and since most RFID devices work over short ranges are you also going to implement monitoring devices every 60 ft (the distance the nike-ipod device transmits) all over the country?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nick Burns, 5 Dec 2006 @ 9:21am

    stop driving cars with OnStar because they can track you via satellite anywhere in the world... throw away your cell phone because they can use that too... disconnect your digital cable because they know that you order those dirty movies at night... stop using a credit/debit card or they'll know how much you eat at McDonald's... and most important of all - don't post comments on techdirt because someone, somewhere is using your IP to find your geographic location

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stu, 5 Dec 2006 @ 3:58pm

    #9
    Sounds like good ideas to me, Nick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 5 Dec 2006 @ 4:09pm

    THe people who care about privacy (and I mena really care, enough to do something about it, rather than th ewhingers) are the soret of people who read this site and otehrs like it. Before you go on about poor people, remeneber that some of the people here appear to be not too rich, and that the average public library has internet access.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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