Sea of Noise

Wed, 18 Oct 2006

How to Avoid Being Arrested by Cops

Remember kids, cops are like vampires: you shouldn't invite them into your home.

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Fri, 09 Jun 2006

AT&T to Customers: Up Against the Wall!


Your world. Delivered. To the NSA.

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Thu, 11 May 2006

Verizon & Bellsouth Sell Out Their Customers, Too!

...and it's not just AT&T:

The nation's largest phone companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- reportedly have been providing the National Security Agency with call records of millions of Americans.

Not because the government ordered them to, mind you. Because the government paid them to.

Kudos to Qwest for respecting their customers' privacy. I'd switch to them in a second if they sold local service here in Connecticut.

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Sun, 11 Dec 2005

Is Privacy Overrated?

Bruno Giussani just sketched out a great movie plot based on the idea that Google is secretly plotting to collect all the world's private information and make it public in 2010.

If you like that story, be sure to check out The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. It's a great book, with essentially the same story about privacy using a different premise.

My prediction? By 2010, the only people who'll have anything to lose from an Evil Search Engine releasing tons of "private" info will be politicians and other criminals. Me, I crossed the Rubicon when I cataloged my smut on LibraryThing.

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Fri, 23 Jul 2004

Japanese Kids To Be Tagged With RFID

Schoolchildren in Osaka will now be tagged with RFID chips. Anyone want to lay odds on how long it will be before McDonald's will sell them fast food with a wave of an arm?

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Mon, 19 Jul 2004

Los Angeles Regulates Cybercafes

Remember when China started doing this sort of thing a decade or so ago? Remember how we were all aghast?

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Sun, 18 Jul 2004

Should Library Patron Info Be Public?

A Michigan law student is seeking information on patrons from libraries under the Freedom of Information Act. The librarians are, of course, aghast. But I have to ask, why is wrong for a member of the public to find out even whether we have a library card while the Federal government can use (or abuse) the USA PATRIOT Act to get much more information about us from libraries without our knowledge? [via Mazar]

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Thu, 27 May 2004

GAO Reports: Big Brother At Large

The ACLU issued a press release today drawing attention to a new report from the GAO that "reveals at least four programs that may be accessing and analyzing private-sector databases in ways that approach the 'data surveillance' of ordinary citizens". As the ACLU's Steinhardt put it, the problem is:

the construction of systems that systematically aggregate information about the private activities of innocent individuals on a mass scale, and the computerized scrutiny of those activities for allegedly suspicious patterns

The report is available online.

[via Reason]

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McDonald's Experimenting With RFID

Maybe the evil geniuses locked in McDonald's basement aren't as evil, or as smart, as I thought. Helene wrote to tell me that McDonald's is testing something like the McD-Pass I envisioned. Well, not exactly, but pretty close. As Forbes reports, McDonald's is experimenting with RFID in several ways, including accepting EZ-Pass for payment in Long Island. So far, though, the emphasis seems to be on using existing systems from other vendors and primarily as a simple cash-replacement.

But give them time...

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I love my E-ZPass. It's so damn convenient and such a good value that I'm willing to put up with the resulting loss of privacy.

For some reason, I was thinking about McDonald's today and a chilling thought occurred. I hesitate even to mention it, in case the evil geniuses locked up in the basement of McDonalds' headquarters haven't already thought of it. But, if they haven't, I guess it's only a matter of time...

Why not a McD-Pass?

The potential benefits to McDonald's are obvious:

But will consumers go for it? Of course they will! Offer them a discount. Offer them special electronic coupons. Promise them that they won't have to fumble for change ever again and that they'll get the right sauce for their Chicken McNuggets every time. Give the tags away. Presto!

I predict that the program would be so successful that the entire interstate highway system would begin accepting McD-Pass for tolls within a year.

And, of course, it will then be only a matter of time before every charm on your keychain that carries a bar code now will be RFID tagged...

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Tue, 23 Dec 2003

Opt Out of Doubleclick

An easy step to protect your privacy: opt of of Doubleclick's tracking. Keep in mind that this works by saving a cookie, so you need to do this in each browser or other client on each computer that you use.

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Tue, 18 Nov 2003

Axciom Opts Out of Opt-Out

A new entry in the list of Companies We Despise: Axciom.

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