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Big Brother is alive and well

If this week’s readings and videos don’t already have you looking over your shoulder, check out this story from MSNBC.com:

What will talking power meters say about you?

Would you sign up for a discount with your power company in exchange for surrendering control of your thermostat? What if it means that, one day, your auto insurance company will know that you regularly arrive home on weekends at 2:15 a.m., just after the bars close?

Welcome to the complex world of the Smart Grid, which may very well pit environmental concerns against thorny privacy issues. If you think such debates are purely philosophical, you’re behind the times.


This stuff — like the CNBC special and some of the other things we looked at this week — just makes me want to put some solar panels on the house and go off the grid.

I’m worried enough about what the government could do with some of the information it collects, but I’m more worried about what could be done with it if someone stole that information.

While I don’t generally worry about using a credit card online — especially since most identity theft happens off line — I am concerned when a utility or some other entity collects information on where I visit on the Web or where my car is or what time I get home. I’m not paranoid and I don’t have anything to hide, but I reject the notion that some of this data mining is being done to make my life easier at almost any level.

It’s just Orwellian at times. And the really unsettling part is that we aren’t very educated about it and we probably don’t care much anyway. Even if we did, would we really change the way we live to avoid registering on so many radars?

Category: Weekly Readings

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