Even the cars are watching us

Back in the 1990s, before the advent and eventual ubiquity of the internet, many of us thought that by buying an electric shredder we would be able to embrace the 21st century confident in the knowledge that we were protecting our identities and keeping our personal details and documents private.

Few were able to predict just how profoundly online and wireless technologies would alter the way we store, send and protect personal information.

These days, without the right knowledge and firewalls just about every piece of information, from our bank details to our love letters and our passwords are available to the unscrupulous hacker.

Take Google’s Street View cars. It’s recently been revealed that Google knew that the vehicle’s had the power and potential to capture and store the online data of millions of people, including emails, text messages and images.

It’s a pretty frightening prospect. There can be no doubt that Google is a great company that has been a real pioneer in making society more open and competitive, from enabling political reform in totalitarian states to comparing the car insurance market for the cheapest deals at home in Britain – for these things and just about everything in between, it’s been a real game-changer. But it’s also true that we need to remain wise to the dangers of letting gremlins in the system.

Photo © DoNotLick, under Creative Commons Licence

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