Police around the country have been affixing high-tech scanners to the exterior of their patrol cars, snapping a picture of every passing license plate and automatically comparing the plates to databases of outstanding warrants, stolen cars and wanted bank robbers…when a license plate is scanned, the driver’s geographic location also is recorded and saved, along with the date and time, each of which amounts to a record or data point. Such data collection occurs regardless of whether the driver is a wanted criminal—and the vast majority are not.
The magic age is people born after 1981,” said Sam Altman in a New York Times article. “That’s the cut-off for us where we see a big change in privacy settings and user acceptance.
Google and Facebook’s entire business model is based on the notion of “monetizing” our privacy. To succeed they must slowly change the notion of privacy itself—the “social norm,” as Facebook puts it—so that what we’re giving up doesn’t seem so valuable. Then they must gain our trust. Thus each new erosion of privacy comes delivered, paradoxically, with rhetoric about how Company X really cares about privacy. I’m not sure whether Orwell would be appalled or impressed. And who knew Big Brother would be not a big government agency, but a bunch of kids in Silicon Valley?
The problem with buying things with your privacy is you really don’t know how much you’re paying. With money, five bucks is five bucks. But what is the value of your list of friends? If it’s not worth much, your membership on Facebook may be the deal of a lifetime. If it’s incredibly valuable, you’re getting massively ripped off. Only the techies know how much your info is worth, and they’re not telling. But the fact that they’d rather get your data than your dollars tells you all you need to know.