Posted: December 8, 2007

Will nanotechnology and other ambient technologies make privacy protection obsolete?

(Nanowerk News) Last week, Forbes magazine ran a commentary by Robert Ellis Smith, publisher of the Privacy Journal newsletter, titled "Scay Stuff"
Smith argues that a new environment of ambient technologies may render obsolete the three decades' old regime for protecting privacy, which merely gives certain rights of access to citizens. What good is checking the accuracy of your own information in a system if the essence of the system is to keep track of where you are? What good is notification about a new system if it's quite simply everywhere?
Ambient intelligence refers to an environment in which electronic devices support human beings in their daily activities in a way that conceals the computers' inner workings. This will involve embedding tiny chips inside the body, customizing them to the individual and anticipating needs of the individual. "Another threatening term often used in these contexts is nanotechnogy, which refers to a miniaturization of technology allowing applications originally deemed impossible."
Some excerpts from what Smith writes:
Government and corporate officials responsible for compliance with privacy laws in Canada and Europe are using a whole new language in 2007. Much of the jargon has passed by the American public. So listen up. This is important.
At their annual meeting this fall in Montreal, there was little of the traditional talk among the international privacy people about the nuts and bolts of data protection. Instead, there were urgent and distressed discussions about "uberveillance," "ambient technology," "ubiquitous computing," "ingestible bugs" and nanotechnology.
Surveillance systems require huge investments, which require government backing, and so it's important for taxpayers--not to mention consumers and parents--to stay up to date on these trends. As to be expected, an industry segment is growing around the new emphasis. Just this month, O'Reilly Media announced a conference next May for "the location industry," to discuss "location-based technology."
The Forbes article also contains a link to an illustrated segment of ueberveillance technologies: "How they are watching you."
Source: Forbes