Sacrificing Privacy

By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-12-09 Print this article Print

?"> The future of wireless is going to be the future of privacy. And its starting to be apparent to me that people dont mind sacrificing privacy. Oh, yeah, sure; they say they do. What they mean, though, is that they dont want their neighbors to know what they do behind the curtains. When it comes to commercial stuff, spyware is OK as long as it doesnt slow down their PC or change their browsers home page. And if it means they dont get advertisements for stuff they dont want, they say its really great! But why does wireless do this more than the Internet?
Its simple enough. As wireless becomes more and more pervasive, the information you need to carry with you becomes less and less.
A hundred years ago, if you went for a picnic, you took all of the food you would need. Today, the same stretch of beach will have a dozen concessions ,and all you need is your credit card. Same for foreign travel: I used to spend significant mental effort on buying and organizing travelers checks before leaving home. Today, I know I can walk up to an ATM in any city and get local currency. Today, people think its cool to carry 20GB of music around in a small white box. With truly ubiquitous high-speed wireless, why bother? I sync all of my addresses to my PDA before leaving, but if I could browse to my home PC, what would be the point? Click here to read about the "Skulls" Trojan sneaking into Symbian-based cell phones. I carry a PC with me on vacation—not because I like to work on the beach or in the mountains, but because I like to unload my holiday snaps from the digital camera. If there were wireless in the camera, however, Id store every picture on my blog right away, together with a little automatic, GPS-created note of where I was and what time it was. But 100 years ago, when Henry Ford gave us the power to provide our own transport, the future of the automobile wasnt just high-speed travel. It was (although Henry Ford didnt care) the future of the traffic jam. Similarly, the future of wireless is interference. Weve given the general public the power to create their own wireless environments. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I wonder what people will be saying about our foresight in another decade, never mind another century. And what will it do, really, to advertising? Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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