The UK has announced that they will passively monitor every vehicle and retain that data for two years.

As I understand it, this monitoring system will utilize a combination of RFID and video surveillance. All of this data could be carried over a wireless network if spectrum and bandwidth were made available. Will something like this be deployed in the US? That is difficult to speculate based on a number of factors, not the least of which is the size difference between the US and the UK, however, we already have red light/cameras that automatically snap pictures and issue tickets. We are also busy installing RFID tracking devices on all shipping containers and luggage that is transported in this country, FedEx and UPS packages will probably be next.

While it is not my intention to start a discussion about the expected right to privacy or if this is an any way an invasion of those rights, it should be noted that should this database ever become open to the public or to people willing to pay for the privilege we could realistically see a profound change in the way we live our lives and conduct business.

How can we maintain any “company confidential” information if every shipment in or out of our company is now public knowledge? At the very least, our suppliers can easily be uncovered as well as our customers. Even a sales prospect we were courting could be identified by our competition and targeted.

In our personal lives any relationship we would have would very easily become public – from political to ones of indiscretion. We would no longer have any expectation of privacy not that we do now in public.

There are also benefits to be reaped. We would have the ability to almost instantly track stolen cars, locate kidnap victims, find lost luggage along with packages being shipped by any of the delivery companies. There is certainly a potential to help reduce terrorism and catch criminals of all kinds – from Scofflaws through murders.

Conversely, there is also the means to create a society none of us really want to be part of. As most people know, any technology can be misused and I see this one as being ripe for abuse. What happens when the technology that writes the RFID tags gets hacked? Would it be possible for someone to rewrite the tag on your car with a known criminal’s identification? What happens if a coordinated attack happens where hundreds (if not thousands) of tags get rewritten so as to through the system completely off track?

How long will it be before the DNA database and the National ID card is incorporated into this database and what ramifications will happen then?

Maybe, we need to take a look at this breakneck innovation that is occurring and ask ourselves if this is really something we want to implement. Some days I believe we don’t even take into consideration what the long term ramifications of our actions might be yet we institute these changes and then try to deal with the effects. If there is one thing that seems to be a constant in this world, once something is implemented it is usually very hard to remove.

The future is coming up on us faster than it ever did before and I don’t believe we have gotten any more capable of managing it than we were centuries ago, This could turn out to be a far greater problem than we ever anticipated.

I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.

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