Modern tech makes looking up owners from plate numbers trivial – you don’t need a plate scanner, you just need a camera and Internet connection.
When introduced 100 years ago, plates could have had the owner’s name on them – but that was considered an unreasonable invasion of privacy. Quasi-random plate numbers made looking up owners possible, but intentionally difficult and slow.
Technology has changed that. We accept plates now only because we’re used to them. Unless you think it’s also a good idea to require pedestrians to wear a giant sign with their name on it, it’s time to get rid of license plates.
Cars already have VIN numbers stamped all over them – that is enough. The VIN is printed small and isn’t readable by every passing person.
If you get pulled over for a traffic violation, then the cop can ask for your vehicle paperwork.
OK, time for me to set myself up for attack again by saying something moderate.
I think Zuckerberg is sincere here, at least mostly. He really wants to bring Internet access to the 3rd world, and is only minimally trying to personally benefit from the project (not saying some of that hasn't leaked in - it clearly has).
But this is a mistake.
But it's dumb. Targeting feature phones might have been sensible 15 years ago. But by the time this rolls out even peasant farmers will have smartphones (the price of a basic one is heading toward zero very, very rapidly).
And - even if he could somehow make the technology limits stick, guess what would happen? People would start encoding video, VoIP, etc. in text files, that's what.
So I give him credit for trying to do a good thing. I think he means well (with only a little self-interest involved).
We should thank him, and gently but firmly explain why it's a bad idea.
I do wish people were more charitable in their assessment of the motives of those they disagree with. People can be wrong without being evil or selfish.
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