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Smart Grid Could Pose Threat To Privacy 297

Presto Vivace writes "Brian Krebs of the Washington Post reports on a study jointly released Tuesday by the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Future of Privacy Forum. It seems that in the process of collecting all that feedback about energy use, utility companies will inevitably collect a great deal of information about us. From the article: 'Instead of measuring energy use at the end of each billing period, smart meters will provide this information at much shorter intervals, the report notes. Even if electricity use is not recorded minute by minute, or at the appliance level, information may be gleaned from ongoing monitoring of electricity consumption such as the approximate number of occupants, when they are present, as well as when they are awake or asleep. For many, this will resonate as a "sanctity of the home" issue, where such intimate details of daily life should not be accessible.'"
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Smart Grid Could Pose Threat To Privacy

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  • Kyllo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:32PM (#30151806) Homepage

    Reminds me of Kyllo v. United States

    Cops used a thermal imager pointed at a guy's house (from their patrol car across the street).

    They then use that as evidence to go bust the guy for marijuana. []

    SCOTUS threw out his conviction because the cops violated his 4th amendment rights.

    I would think that the use of electricity usage data should play out the same way, but who knows!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If I had a crooked friend at the power company, he could tell me when someone in a house I want to rob usually goes to work and also when they do so on a given day.
    • by Tynin ( 634655 )
      I don't think anyone would be subject to a search warrant over electrical usage (I'd like to hope). You'd never be able to tell if someone was using a kilo watt of power to run grow lights, or to power and run a heat element on an electric oven range. I guess that is a bad example since the oven would only be on for a little bit whereas the lights would be always on, but the same principle applies. You'd have so much noise with various things plugged in using in some cases fluctuating amounts of power, it w
      • by db32 ( 862117 )

        Well of course not, that is why they have rules that allow them to listen in on your phone and email just because you have a funny name.
        In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they use this to determine which houses to watch at night because crime usually happens at night, so houses that are active at night are more likely to be engaged in illegal drug sales/use/etc or whatever other idiot shit reason they come up with.

        • Clearly with more-and-more of our information being held by outside entities (megacorps and government), the United States needs to copy this protection from the EU Charter of Rights:

          Article 8. Protection of personal data

          1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
          2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data w

      • Our power company has a Web site -- enter an address, badda boom, badda bing, get the household electric use.

        Maybe a person with illegal growing in mind could canvas the neighborhood, find out the upper bound from the normal "wasteful" electric use, and then "fly under the radar" and only grow subject to that cap on electric use.

        On the other hand, maybe all of the folks with big electric bills are growing?

        • Maybe a person with illegal growing in mind could canvas the neighborhood, find out the upper bound from the normal "wasteful" electric use, and then "fly under the radar" and only grow subject to that cap on electric use.
          Or they could just steal the electricity....

          • by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:05PM (#30152514) Homepage

            It's rather easy to find stolen electricity. Total the usage of the meters in an area vs. how much power was used there. If there is a difference of more than the reasonable margin of error, they have ways to isolate where this is very easy (especially since the thieves are constantly using).

            With SmartMeters, stealing electricity will be virtually impossible. Within minutes theft of power is spotted and a truck roll can be sent out within the next day (if not sooner) if it continues.

      • Re:Kyllo (Score:4, Interesting)

        by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:14PM (#30152188)

        Hopefully U.S. anti-marijuana laws will be declared unconstitutional (where was Congress given authority to completely ban a naturally-growing plant?) before this Smart Grid is implemented, and then it won't matter if you are using grow lights or not.

        • Hopefully U.S. anti-marijuana laws will be declared unconstitutional...

          The constitution is only a piece of paper. I hear a lot of rhetoric about rule of law and not of men, but it always boils down to a group of powerful people allowing just enough freedom to others to do as they tell you. That currently means beating and imprisoning you to protect you from that naturally growing plant. So, for the sake of your well being, light up a government sanctioned cigarette and down a bottle of tax revenue providin

      • by Anonymous Coward []

        "The Drug Unit asked Enmax, the local electricity provider, to install a digital recording ammeter (DRA) to record power consumption in Gomboc’s house. Enmax complied without insisting on a warrant. After five days, Enmax gave the police a graph that showed Gomboc’s use of electricity was consistent with running a grow operation. [...] At trial, the Crown conceded that police could not have obtained a search warrant without the data from Enmax."

    • Re:Kyllo (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:50PM (#30151940)

      I would think that the use of electricity usage data should play out the same way, but who knows!

      I knows!
      Granting warrants for excessive electricity use is routine in the USA.

      Here's one from 2004: []
      Here's one from 2009: []

      • Re:Kyllo (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:21PM (#30152236)

        "Eight armed narcs raided the Dagy home on March 19 and found absolutely nothing. No evidence of pot anywhere, not even stashed in the children's toys. Seems that the coppers mistook the family's constant use of the dishwasher, washer/dryer, three computers, four ceiling fans, and other electronic devices as evidence of a felony drug operation. Oops. The Dagys--Mom's a homemaker and Dad's a general manager of 21 Shell stations--would like an apology from the Carlsbad Police Department. Sadly, we'd recommend that the Dagys not hold their collective breath."

        I hate drug cops and homeland security. They keep performing these heinous searches and "eating out the substance" of our citizens

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I use to keep saltwater reef aquariums. I even used "grow lights" over them. In the hobby we hear about people getting their doors kicked in at 6am on a Sunday from time to time... Seems a reef tank needs light 12 hours a day just like...

          The story that you reference, I wonder if the cops kicked out all the drywall while they inspected. I've heard of that and there's no compensation.

        • They keep performing these heinous searches and "eating out the substance" of our citizens

          20 of 25 raids that day resulted in illegal drugs being found.

          These cops are enforcing the law. Don't like it? Get the law changed. We do elect our lawmakers, you know.

          Yes, it is time for sane drug laws (or no drug laws?)


          • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @12:52AM (#30153084)

            20 of 25 raids that day resulted in illegal drugs being found.

            What smelly place did you pull that statistic from?
            You are right the law needs to be changed, but also the whole warrant process. "They use lots of electricity" should be rejected by judges. It's not a valid reason to suspect marijuana usage & issue a search warrant

            • What smelly place did you pull that statistic from?

              An actual real news story on the bust that contained real actual quotes from those involved..

    • SCOTUS threw out his conviction because the cops violated his 4th amendment rights. I would think that the use of electricity usage data should play out the same way, but who knows! /quote>Hey Glenn Beck!

      Is dat u?


    • That's the right way to deal with this, technical measures are pointless because the police will always be able to get that info (with current tech 3 40w bulbs give a noticeably different pastern), making it useless without a warrant is what's key, some sort of guaranteed anonymization of the data would be nice too (because while the electricity company need long term statistics so they can shame their supply to demand, they don't need YOUR long term stats).

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      It should be a 4th amendment issue, but it is not.

      If your power use suddenly spikes, expect the cops at your door to ask about what you're doing. Had this happen in college when a roommate setup a bunch of tropical fish tanks.

    • by jasonwc ( 939262 )
      Well, the problem is that the 4th Amendment doesn't apply at all in this situation. There is no state action. The 4th Amendment protects against encroachment by the federal government, and by incorporation via the 14th Amendment, also provides protection against state and local government actions.

      However, the conduct here is being done by a private entity. In addition, they will almost certainly have consent to collect the information as part of the long form contracts you're required to sign to use their s
    • by maharb ( 1534501 )

      What if the information is kept strictly in the system and encrypted so that no one can access it except the system. Then the system generates the proper aggregate reports. This would protect individuals rights to privacy while allowing a mindless system access to the sensitive information and manage the grid properly. Surely aggregate information is all the power company people would need to operate a smart grid. (Both aggregate across a household over a period and aggregate of all customers in real ti

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:42PM (#30151888) Journal
    The only difference in my at home power usage vs my away power usage is basically a cfl and a TV. I presume that would be drowned out by the AC cycling, the fridge cycling, various fluctuating draws from computers doing updates and interfacing with the internet (ingoing and outgoing, 24/7), etc.
    • by imamac ( 1083405 )
      Except that even those (A/C and Fridge) will use less power when you're not there. No opening the refrigerator/house door means fewer cycles for the refrigerator and A/C.
    • by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:10PM (#30152146) Homepage Journal

      It's actually rather amazing how much data you can get from monitoring this sort of thing. For example, I used to track the CPU temperature of my computer. From looking at fluctuations in the graph, I could tell when when the furnace was running, when I entered and left the room, when the ceiling light was on, and so forth. I'm sure you could do the same thing with electricity usage: a spike of X watts represents the refridgerator, a shift of Y watts is the bathroom lights, etc.

  • Inevitable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:55PM (#30151988)
    We must decide... Will we remain Luddites or join the hive mind? Attempting to both leverage technology and leverage privacy is an exercise in futility. Those choosing to straddle the fence rather than embracing one or the other will eventually find that someone else has already decided for them.
    • Technology is for empowering the individual, subservience to a hive mind is the lie of the enslaver. The greatest evils of the 20th century were spawned from a herd mentality.

  • Not needed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:58PM (#30152022)
    What they need to do is broadcast the present price of electricity and have the meter bill accordingly. Then get the total bill every month. This enables the "consumer" to regulate their usage to reduce cost (smoothing usage as the utilities want). It also avoids the need for large amounts of data sent back. There are usually simple solutions, and the fact that companies don't use the simple solutions generally points to an agenda other than what is claimed.
    • by coaxial ( 28297 )

      It's not a large amount of data. It's just the current demand at that instance. In order for customers to be able to regulate (i.e. shift) demand, they need to know when the power was needed and what price it was charged. Simply saying "You owe us $x," doesn't really give you enough information to shift demand effectively. Receiving a simple total, like you proposed, is exactly what we have now.

      The smart grid off peak scheduling tricks have always relied on customer controlled technology. The idea was

      • You could just hook a Kill-O-Watt to them for a few days and take the average consumption.
        • by coaxial ( 28297 )

          True, but if you want to seriously impact demand, you have to inform and encourage people at scale. Depending on everyone to step up and do this on their own, just doesn't work to practice.

      • A "smart meter" such as you describe could belong to and be controlled by the customer. It would just need access to the current price. Such meters could be deployed right now with no need for new regulations or investment by utility companies.

        Won't happen, of course.

        • by Orne ( 144925 )

          Except it is happening right now [], at least in the deregulated portions of the US electric grid. You see, the the electric distribution company (the people who you pay your bill to each month) buys the energy you use from the wholesale market and sells it to you (what's called an end-use customer) at retail rates. Today, retail rates are locked, but in the next year or so many states are deregulating their retail markets, and the real-time retail rate will become a pass-through of hourly wholesale rates pl

        • by coaxial ( 28297 )

          I agree that there's no need for new regulations, except to transition the power grid en masse, but since the utilities have been wanting this for a while now, it certainly seems like this sort of transition would move naturally. The only thing would need to be worked out would be technical details, but those are easily taken care of.

          I disagree that there wouldn't need to be investment. The current meters don't have anyway of knowing what the current price is. There would need to be someway of sending t

    • PJM does this already, []

  • NEWSFLASH! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:00PM (#30152052)

    Anything that is internet-connected and useful poses a threat to your privacy. Period.

    I am willing to accept that trade-off, especially since 95% of the privacy stories on YRO are overblown.

    Oh no, the power company can determine my peak power usage. They can determine that I leave in the morning and get home at night.

    In exchange, the smart grid promises some big benefits. As usual, a trade-off.

    • Really, they can glean a whole lot more information, and it may not be information they should be gleaning. You thought that affair was a private matter, but they figured out that there was an extra person in the house; this might be used against you (e.g. as the auto companies tried to send women after Ralph Nader to create a scandal).

      There should be explicit privacy built into the smart grid. Oh well, not enough people care.
    • Re:NEWSFLASH! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr_Plattz ( 1589701 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:46PM (#30152752)
      I don't think the problem here is the ELECTRICITY COMPANY knowing when you "leave in the morning and get home at night".

      I think Token Criminal who is working with some hackers in Russia gaining access to these INTERNET CONNECTED Smart Grids is the real problem.

      It's easy to accept "trade-offs" when you don't understand an entire scenario.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:08PM (#30152136) Journal

    PG&E is using (for electricity) a GE I-120 smartmeter with a Silver Spring Networks interface. (Installer said they plan to install the associated network on the poles shortly, after which no more meter readers wandering the neighborhood.)

    According to the meter's description on GE's site it uses IP and "industry standard crypto" over a two way radio link to a network running their software. It can be remotely tweaked and have software upgrades remotely loaded. (I can hear the cypherpunks booting up already.)

    It records and reports high-time-resolution information about the utility use. It can be used to shut the power off in case of "billing trouble". It doesn't do net metering. Instead it treats backfeeding the net as a sign of cheating - an old mechanical-meter hack consisting of unplugging and inverting the meter to "run it backward" a few days per month. (It records the events around the reversal - unplug, replug-inverted, unplug, replug-normal - with high time resolution, to be used as evidence if it goes to court.)

    If you want to do net metering once this is installed you have to get the power company to come out again and install another meter, set up for "two-way metering".

    • for PEBKAC.

      In the days of mechanical telephone switches, the telco swore up and down that my mother hadn't paid the bill. When they sent out the guy to carry out the disconnect order, he said she could make one last phone call. She showed him the canceled check and told him he could make it to his boss, or he could disconnect the phone and never show his face on the property again. He said sorry, lady, I got my orders.

      The Nuremberg trials invalidated that excuse. (Aaaaand Godwin's Law is validated for
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They actually use native IPv6 with IPSEC for all of the Smart Meters on their own private wireless and fiber backbones. For some of the nodes that cannot use local wireless reach a substation (remote, non-urban areas), they use VZN's cellular network, with IPv6 encapsulated in IPv4 to the SSN network container where it comes out IPv6 to talk to the rest of the infrastructure.

      However, PG&E doesn't host any of the infrastructure, they outsource it all to Silver Springs. So, not only does PG&E have a

  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:19PM (#30152222)

    Smart grid is really needed to provide the ability to support electric cars without taking out the power system, and to provide peak-demand load management for people who use power at peak times (ie. businesses, during the day). People aren't going to run washing machines at 2AM in the summertime to avoid a $0.50 fee and get smelly clothes since nobody will be around to flip the laundry into the dryer.

    The problem at the residential level is that other than the electric cars that nobody wants there is minimal value to shifting residential power demand for most people -- their demand is at night, since there aren't many housewives hanging out at home anymore. From what I've read, energy usage isn't the problem -- the problem is providing sufficient power during periods of peak demand. Additionally, many, many places don't have the necessary last-mile power infrastructure to handle the electric cars that are supposedly going to drive increased consumer demand.

    Plus, nobody has plugin electric cars, and the excessive costs will keep it that way. Why would you buy a $40,000 car that is similar to a compact car and requires upgrading your home electrical system to own? Just buy a diesel Jetta, which has a far lower TCO. Hell, hybrid diesel-electric cars are probably more practical.

    Upgrading the infrastructure of every side street in every city is going to cost billions and take years. And it will meet resistance -- residential neighborhoods with trees and overhead lines will find the new supply lines also mean that the utility company will eviscerate every tree.

    • by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:28PM (#30152634)

      People aren't going to run washing machines at 2AM in the summertime to avoid a $0.50 fee

      I often run mine at night, but for other reasons -- your quote betrays your ignorance of the subject matter. A typical efficient washer uses about 100 watt-hours per load. The absolute cost of that would be a few cents US, and the marginal cost of operating that machine during peak hours would be far less than that.

      since nobody will be around to flip the laundry into the dryer

      Into the what?? You still waste energy on those? In the Summer?!? During the day? Suckers like you are who's buying my peak-rate photovoltaic solar generation. Keep it up!

      Additionally, many, many places don't have the necessary last-mile power infrastructure to handle the electric cars that are supposedly going to drive increased consumer demand.

      Not sure where you got on the anti electric vehicle thing, but you're missing the point of a "smarter" grid. Regardless of the nature of the generation technology or the load, a smarter grid with managed loads will utilize the grid more efficiently.

      Just buy a diesel Jetta, which has a far lower TCO

      As long as you externalize the cost of particulate pollution, global warming, lung disease, and foreign wars to acquire "cheap" oil. Sounds great.

      Hell, hybrid diesel-electric cars are probably more practical.

      Starting sentences with "Hell, comma" makes you look like a high school student.

      • Starting sentences with "Hell, comma" makes you look like a high school student.

        And ad hominem makes you look like a politician.

  • Oh bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:21PM (#30152234) Journal
    Just use an uninterrupted power supply system. It can be built to draw current only when the batteries are low, and that can be programmed in, so that the actual draw of electricity is orthogonal to the use of the electricity. Think kind of like a Prius.

    bunch of arm-waving idiocy.

  • Information Age (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelzar ( 1642061 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:22PM (#30152244)
    I think we're going to have to accept that a number of entities are going to have all kinds of information about us. One potential solution is to create meaningful regulations that balance individual interests/rights against those of corporate entities (corporate in the broadest sense, inc. state entities). Perhaps something along the lines of the confidentiality that exists between an individual and various professionals/clergymen.
    • by symbolic ( 11752 )

      Meaningful regulations, and meaningless aberrations. How hard can it be to hook up a couple of smallish appliances to a timer that varies over a certain period?

  • by jackchance ( 947926 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:25PM (#30152270) Homepage

    Last time i checked most people carry a cellphone which authorities can use to locate your person at all times.

    BUT electricity usage can be used to get a warrant [] to search your home:

    "An unusually high electricity bill alerted police to a possible marijuana-growing operation, the warrant said."

  • Ok, sure, so the smart grid may leak private information...

    But my bigger concern now is this whole social security number "thing" where it's used as a primary database key for all sorts of companies, both within and outside of the government, is one of the primary keys to identity theft, and the government requires it's use for government things (where it's well protected), but doesn't prevent it's use by third parties (where it's *NOT* well protected). The most the government says is that you don't have t
  • by jparker ( 105202 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @10:54PM (#30152460) Homepage

    There are already tons of service providers we use (bank, credit card, hospital, ISP, cable company, cell phone company, etc.) that have a similar or greater amount of data. How does this pose any new problems?

    I'd certainly like to see more clearly defined legal standards for how this kind of data may be used, but I'd assume that the tangled mess we have now would apply to the data that the power companies gather as well.

  • by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:18PM (#30152578) Journal
    Why can't the power company provide the information the consumer needs, and the consumer has a controller in their house that manages appliances and electricity use (without data feedback)? I don't recall the gas companies asking for control of our thermostats, so why should this be different*? You could opt-in to have your controller send data to the power company (or have the meter reader get the data when he comes around), but there would be no NEED for the power company to get information back. The power company could closely monitor each block if they want more data on what areas are helping with the smart grid effort without concerns over privacy.

    I've heard about the smart grid for years and I know I can't be the first to ask this- maybe I'm missing something?

    *Brownouts would be the main reason, but if everyone is getting real-time cost information (and set their controllers accordingly), the power companies would see a much better response when they jack up the rates during peak hours. I expect the system will work a lot better once they have a proper feedback loop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:20PM (#30152592)

    I "knew" a person that "grew" marijuana.

    I once asked him, generally speaking, where he grew.

    What he told me was that he grew in a barn up in the mountains. Why in a barn, I asked him. Because this far out from the city, the electric meters were not able to reach cell towers, and thus could not report daily usage rates. The meter reader came out once a month so all they had was monthly usage figures (one of them old "spinny" type meters). He did this because the daily usage data was used to look for electric usage that followed a specific pattern, primarily a 11-12 hour peak usage period that would indicate growing lights. That, and the fact that nobody had a reason to be parked across the street with a FLIRgun or flying helicopters overhead. That is what he claimed, anyways.

    I also once met a chap that used many rolls of copper house wiring, all spliced together into a coil, all laid out under the soil just below high-tension powerlines. Inductive leeching provided his entire grow operation with power--almost completely untraceable as well. At least that is what he claimed...

  • The whole "smart grid" thing is way too complicated. All you really need are a few bits per minute broadcast from the power company, telling you how their current load status. [] A few more bits from your local electric meter about your own current load would be helpful. Loads that draw more than about 300 watts and can run unattended needs to be receiving those bits, which in a home mostly means major appliances and HVAC.

    During periods of power scarcity, the power company can send out, in increasing order

  • IANAEE but it seems strange there is no home battery that would blur usage, rather energy spikes are passed to the grid.
    Put another way, what happens when lightning strikes? Is there a spike passed back?

    A home ought to be able to hide usage of a kettle by drawing from a secondary battery which fills up gradually from the grid, my understanding is that in fact this should be happening and the battery works at night when power is cheaper.

    Must the smart grid operate at high resolution to be efficient? Most hig

  • Open freezer door, insert hair drier.

    Figure THAT one out, you communist Progress Energy bastards!

  • I was briefly involved with a project proposal in Dallas back in late 2001 that involved installing meters that recorded electricity use at 6 second intervals to implement finer grained billing. Various "features" of the electricity monitoring discussed were data mining for exactly the patterns discussed in the article, in addition to detection of illegal activity. The proposal never got off the ground, so I never had to decide whether I wanted to be involved in such a project.

  • ... about internet connections, everytime you visist a website you hit a bunch of ad and tracking servers, and most people do not have proper anti-information leaking programs on their systems.

    You can gain the same information in a multitude of ways, privacy simply cannot survive onslaught of advancing technology where we want to use that technology to scientifically monitor everything possible to increase our understanding of complex systems.

  • It could well come down to it that Scott McNealy was actually right when he said that we had no right to privacy. In other words, the social interest in aggregating all the data about us, and its utility to society, might well outweigh our right to privacy. Think about it.

  • Electricity usage information wants to be free.

  • Here are some possible positives:

    The energy company doesn't have to come out and read the meter. Great, saves them a few jobs, gets some people unemployed. But you don't need a continuous monitoring of the meter for that. Just a once-a-month dial-in at the end of the month (every other month in my area) from the device to the company. There is no need to require traffic the other way around.

    The energy company can tell your house when it is a good time to use a lot of power (eg. dishwashers etc.). Again, a s

  • The problem is no longer about privacy. It is about how to protect us so that we can safely live publicly and putting in place the right triggers for when violations occur.

    The electric companies too are subjected to the new orders of the world. Their activities are just as trackable as ours are to them. In exchange for them tracking us, we should be able to track them with regards to our information, and they should have to pay for their mistakes.

    It may take a long time, but by the time the courts are throu

  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @10:00AM (#30155520)

    Privacy is already gone for the vast majority of people on the planet. The best anyone can hope for now is anonymity.

    5, 10, 15 years from now, you'll be able to snap a picture of someone, upload it to Google Faces, and get back every single picture of that person on the internet. Some enterprising person will write a bit of software that reads the tags and connects them to public information sources about the person. There will probably be software that snatches up tons of publicly available writing samples of the person and compares it to a "signature" that has a reasonable degree of accuracy in figuring out who that person is. There will be other tools that let anyone do some basic snooping through archives to find other references to that person from other sources (like a Google stalk, but a bit more in-depth and the tool will tell clueless people how to be more efficient in tracking someone). If the footage from surveillance systems ever becomes public, you can bet that someone will figure out how to track an individual's movements. It will, in short, be trivial to get a work-up on people that's about as complete as you can imagine any private investigator, but you'll be able to do it on the fly, from home.

    Our privacy is already gone, most of us just don't know it yet. The best that we can do is to make as sure as possible that all this surveillance data that is being collected becomes part of the public domain which will ironically help limit abuse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No it's not. You don't ahve any privacy in public, and you never have had privacy while in public.

      Privacy is bank info, medical info, what happens in your house and in PRIVATE.

  • Jeez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Thursday November 19, 2009 @11:56AM (#30157434) Homepage Journal

    You are buying electricity, it's not private. DOn't lie it? Make your own electricity.

    It's like saying McDonalds tracking you buying a soda from them is someone a loss of privacy.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.