Back to the future. All-of-a-sudden, the term "1984" has become quite popular in the news, on TV and on a certain blog & Twitter feed you may be reading at the moment. It started with the U.S. v. Jones case regarding warrantless GPS tracking.
But 'Jones' is child's play compared to what the District of Columbia is doing on a daily basis. At least in Jones, the issue revolves around the government tracking specific vehicles for specific purposes. In DC, they track the license plates of all of the vehicles, all of the time. Not only that, they retain the database, sometimes for years.
I don't know whether to be in awe or appalled! As a techno-weenie, I can't help but be fascinated by technology that can accomplish this; but that doesn't mean I lose sight of the obvious risks to privacy. Examples?
The Good: A crime is committed, a witness jots down a license plate and the authorities are able to input said plate into the database and locate the perpetrator.
The Bad: A husband calls police to report his wife missing. They input her license plate into the database, locate her vehicle in front of an apartment building – and discover she's having an affair.
The Ugly: Talk amongst yourselves…
As has been the case so many times before, this capability may be used for good, evil, or with good intent that becomes inherently evil.
Of course, the same could be said of chocolate cake. In moderation, it's great; but eat too much and you can make yourself sick. The question is, who's going to be responsible for making sure we don't overindulge?