Friday, December 7, 2007

Is Technology Becoming too Invasive?

A string of stories that relate to Internet security have been hitting the newswires as of late: from Facebook's ad program that was tracking people's Web activity, to Passport Canada's Web glitch that momentarily revealed personal information about applicants. This has me thinking: have some forms of technology become too invasive?

We all know about things like cookies that Websites plant onto your PC to then track your online behaviour. In fact, some people are OK with this, and even join Web panels that use their surfing information to determine the most popular Websites, or to help create targeted marketing campaigns. But what about other areas of technology?

Take GPS systems and software that can track where someone is at all times during the day, for example. Sure, this is a great method for companies who pay workers to go out on the road: how else can you ensure that they aren't making two-hour stops to a buddy's house; or that they did in fact travel as far as claimed in an expense report? Here's an idea: trust your employees to begin with, or don't hire them!

Here's another example. I just received an e-mail pitch about software that would notify parents via a cell phone message whenever their child makes a cell phone call or sends a text message to an unknown phone number. Not only does the parent receive a notification, but if it's a text message, he/she will receive an entire copy! In theory, this is great; especially with kids these days becoming increasingly active on the 'net, and conversing with people that could very well be Internet predators. But if I were a teenager and found out my parents were doing such a thing, I'd be livid. What's worse, I'd probably want to rebel at that point, feeling that my parent's simply didn't trust me.

Although it's great to discover how sophisticated tracking and monitoring features can be today, should such products be available for the consumer market? If you ask me, we're just asking for a society that is un-trusting and skeptical.

No comments: