A while ago I heard a man from a government funded housing think-tank explain how in the future smart connected social housing could allow the government to actively monitor inhabitants. The proposed scope of connectedness ranged from tracking occupants movements within the house through wifi usage patterns (to check for over occupancy), to your bathroom scales automatically reducing rent based on government set health goals.
“People will like it” he said, “It let’s them know someone cares”.
The government is already proposing you hand over your personal details if you like to watch filth on the internet but selectively monitoring only the people in social housing set’s a dangerous precedent of privacy being the privilege of the rich, and not the right of everyone…. It’d clearly be much fairer if they just monitored everyone relentlessly…..oh wait .
Goverenments have a long established history of domestic spying but it’s only relativley recently that corporations have had the analytical power and access to increased levels of personal information (through internet shopping history, connected devices, reward cards and more) that they’ve been able to jump on the information gravy train.
Watch this sweaty man explain how he’s all up in your music genres deciding where to open a Jazz bar. (Skip to 2:56 to avoid the brain rotting QNX spam)
This vision of the future no doubt gives some market analyst a raging, sweaty p-value, but it also raises an interesting question. Will analysis like this result in the filter bubble effect leaking into physical spaces? How narrow will your world view become once all your devices are reporting personalization analytics all the time to companies that have both digital and physical influence over your surroundings. Tastes, opinions, and the neighborhoods should evolve and change over time, not become more entrenched. More importantly whats the audio equivalent of filling your amazon history full of 55 gallon barrels of lube and how do you spoof it for all the people in your immediate neighborhood to the blackberry servers ….the bars around here are gonna get weird.
As the internet becomes more prevalent in everyday devices we need a stronger understanding of what this means for personal privacy. We need the government to protect and fight for our digital rights and for them to gain an understanding of new technology at much faster pace (for fucks sake it’s 2014 and it’s only just become legal to rip a CD for personal use). Privacy protecting software and encryption can only go so far, and without financial backing it probably won’t fill the ever increasing gab between practical implementations and consumer demands for convenience. The irony being the companies best suited to developing these technologies are the ones who profit most from the lack of them.
The Internet of Things has so much more to offer than “market insights” or reporting the flab gained from that 3am shame kebab to the government, let’s not fuck it up too much before it’s had a proper time to blossom.