Biometrics & PrivacyIt is no secret that we love convenience.  If this were not the case, most of us would still travel to a stream / river / water to wash our clothes against a rock instead of going to the laundromat / dry cleaners / washing machine in our home.  Or perhaps we would eschew electricity and heat our homes with fire, not use anything that required charging or the need to be ‘powered’ (like your computer, a television, your appliances, lights…).  Maybe we would walk more instead of using our cars to get around.

Not willing to give any of that up?  I get it!  We’re creatures of comfort and convenience.  Heaven knows we don’t have the time or patience to cook a meal instead of putting one in the microwave (or going to some fast food joint to pay for the convenience of others preparing something for us).  We built all this stuff and will hand it off to our children because we know best and have left them a better place than when we grew up in.

And that is the point of this post.  Since we marvel at the changes coming in technology and the convenience that this brings us, it is no surprise we don’t look at the long term effects or possibilities this holds for us.  We’re here in the ‘now’ and don’t have time to contemplate the future impact.  But make no mistake, the changes happening today and in our recent past continue to reverberate well into the future.

Let’s talk about privacy.  An entire organization has been built from the ground up under the auspices of protecting us – the TSA.  This very expensive and very (in my opinion) ineffective organization continues to grow and has started to permeate many other areas of society – apart from air travel – with barely any discussion of citizen concerns for their mission and tactics.  A new force of our government to dictate the behavior of the masses.

But I digress – how did we come here, what is happening now, and what is the potential impact on our (and our children’s) future.  Let’s look at a couple of experiments in our public schools.  Like it or not, once these experiments start in our schools they are more than well on their way into many other areas of society and our lives.

An article written in the USA Today (by Brian Shane) recently caught my eye – Palm scanners get thumbs up in schools, hospitals.  While many showed only superficial concern (transmission of germs by multiple folks using the device – really?  That’s all you have”  Don’t even think about all those folks grabbing the door handle of the bathroom you just existed without washing their hands…) there was one parent who opted their son out of this experiment.  Imagine that, his son would have to pay with (gasp) cash (talk about dirty!).  And would be (gasp) responsible for securing it until needing it.  How inconvenient for all involved – yet it certainly takes care of any privacy concerns.

Another article from CBS Houston had the headline of Schools’ Tracking Devices Causes Controversy.  Here the students movements are tracked like boxes of merchandise waiting to be shipped to fulfill our shopping needs at our local WalMart (or mom-n-pop store if you prefer).  RFID has been around and in use for some time, and expanding this technology seems to be on the rise.  But when one student refused to play well with this experiment (that was suppose to assist in tracking attendance, thus securing more federal funds according to the article) they were threatened with removal from the school.  How’s that for an education (or indoctrination – comply or else)?

Now my intent here is not to come across as someone that sees evil or ill intent with technology.  I did, however, want to use words to get you to think in stark terms of the initial convenience promised and the current tactics for asking for you to comply with these benevolent keepers of our kids.  And technology is good, it can be a great help, and I’m not suggesting we roll back the clock.  I am saying we may not have thought very far in the future about how these devices – and the information culled from us and shared in massive data repositories – will be used as we move forward.

Are you keeping an eye open for the advances in technology that are coming near you?  Where would you draw the line on privacy?  Biometrics (eye / finger / palm scanning)?  Naked body scanners and intrusive pat downs (coming or are already at an airport near you)?  Embedded RFID chips?  Dependence on credit cards (that are tracked well, but there are improvements and additional conveniences in the works)?  Think about the future of where all this information ends up and how the lives of those that follow will be impacted (for good, and perhaps not so good).