Sunday, February 19, 2006 How I stalked my girlfriend

Without descending into paranoia, here's why a good dose of skepticism and reluctance to give up privacy is a very good thing. But the battle has pretty much been lost here.

To put this story into perspective, Dr Ben Goldacre, is the columnist for the Guardian on Bad Science. I find this column absolutely fantastic and a good antidote to the huge amount of woo-woo that's going on in our media. The latest being the magnetic bed ads on radio.

Sorry, for the distraction there. Anyway, if you click the link right at the top, you will get a story about how anyone would be able to track you through your handphone as long as it is on. It's not a new technology, but this particular episode demonstrates very clearly how easy it was for a 3rd party (someone with absolutely no connection to you) who nevertheless has access to your handphone to keep tabs on you.

In a slightly different manner, this capability is already present on your ez-link card, which tracks the last 5 destinations you made on the MRT system. Thought I have not confirmed this, I think it should also be possible to trace you even on the bus system with the GPS tracker they embedded into the fee transponder for automatic upgrades.

Of course, this is not to say that such aa programme does not have its uses. It would be useful for parents who want to keep tabs on their children (huge questions on a child's right to privacy but that's a separate post), or even to reduce the risk of a successful kidnapping (useful in certain parts of SEA and Latin America). And of course, we've seen the usefulness of it militarily (think unmanned arial vehicle with guided missile in desert) as well as to capture the responsible agents involved in the whole extrodinary rendition fiasco.

But is the price worth paying? I personnally don't think it would be too far a stretch of the imagination that one day our IC might have similar technology embedded into it. Hopefully by then we would have a strong enough data protection and privacy laws to prevent abuse.




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