[ Wednesday, January 19, 2005 ]


Black Helicopter Alert: I was watching the Fox TV show "24" the other day and found the use of cell phones by the terrorists, and the eavesdropping of the CounterTerrorism Unit on those calls, particularly interesting. Why would the terrorists use cell phones? Didn't they know that their calls could be intercepted and overheard? Don't they know what happened to Newt Gingrich a few years ago when one of his cell calls was taped? Other than that, of course, the show is completely believable.

Are you afraid of government forces spying on your everyday activities? I've been approached after giving HIPAA speeches and had people tell me how they refuse to allow their social security number to be used by their healthcare providers, put PO Box numbers for their drivers license address, etc., so they can "more fully protect their privacy." I generally consider those folks the "black helicopter" crowd: afraid of the government (or more insidiously, some crypto-industrial/governmental organization) spying on them in some "1984"-type Big Brother scheme. Obviously, there's a lot of potential for snooping out there, more now than ever. If you're afraid of this stuff, this article from Popular Mechanics will probably scare you even more.

I tend to live closer to Scott McNealy's edict: "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." That may not be right, but it's pretty accurate. And while as the article notes there are ways to get around it, the questions is simply how much you want to forego the conveniences that things like tracking cookies give you in order to keep that privacy. The way I figure it, there are a few hundred million folks out there with information being recorded, and a few thousand data points per person; what are the odds that someone could (or would) track me? And what do I do that would cause anyone to want to track me? If you live an unapologetic life, it probably doesn't matter too much.

Jeff [11:20 AM]

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