Pessimism over new technology must end

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a debate over the intersection of privacy concerns and new technology. From smart electric meters and surveillance cameras to national ID cards and RFID tags, new technologies seem to be a double edged sword. They have the potential to cut costs for companies, security concerns for governments, and time for consumers, but there is a delicate balancing act to make sure privacy rights do not get shredded in the process.

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The debates are raging here as well as the pro-and anti- Real ID Act camps jockey for position in what promises to be a protracted battle, though it may be a moot point if states follow New Hampshire's lead in declaring Real ID "contrary and repugnant" to the Constitution. Privacy advocates have pushed for legislation on RFID tags in individual products based on concerns about tracking, but nobody in the United States seems to be complaining much about the proliferation of cameras virtually everywhere. The mother of privacy concerns, the Patriot Act, continues to give a lot more latitude to law enforcement than has been allowed at most times in our nation's history even as it gives conspiracy theorists even more ammunition.

New Hampshire officials say no to Real ID (Computerworld)

Backlash against RFID is growing (CNN)

Tracking me for safety's sake (Bowling Green News)

It seems to me that there is a delicate balance, but one that we should be able to find as long as all parties come to the table with an open mind and willingness to compromise. Manufacturers, shippers, and retailers complain about the added cost of RFID products containing more security features, but that is the price we pay for privacy. There is a lot of merit in the idea that identification should meet some minimum federal standard, but there are so many exceptions that would have to be considered that the issue is unlikely to see a president's pen anytime soon.

How much are we willing to give up in time, energy, and money to maintain some resemblance of privacy? Has recently passed legislation gone too far already? Security has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, is privacy the next revolution? Join the discussion.

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