MONTREAL -- Just because someone's paranoid doesn't mean they're not being watched.
With technology becoming more and more integrated into everyday life -- and potentially embedded in people's bodies -- speakers at an international privacy conference this week have warned that the brave new world could have a significant impact on people's psyches.
Inventor of the term "uberveillance," Australian technology expert and theologian Michael Michael said the increasing threats to our privacy posed by technology and experimental innovations such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tag implants will also carry consequences for mental health.
Digestible ID Tags?
"Mental illness will become an increasingly confronting factor as these issues develop," he said.
In another conference session, delegates were told of a Kodak patent application for a digestible RFID.
University of Toronto associate professor of information studies David Phillips said society needs to find a better way of addressing such technologies publicly as they become more pervasive.
"We have to keep talking about this in ways that work better than we talk about it now," he said.
Teresa Lunt of the Palo Alto Research Centre said RFIDs and other technologies could be used in a way that protects an individual's privacy while also making use of information such as our shopping habits.
A so-called privacy appliance could allow a retailer to read about customers' clothing, colour and other preferences based on past purchases as soon as they walk into the store.
More specific knowledge about the person's identity could be concealed, however, she said.B
Citation: Alan Findlay, September 28, 2007, "New technology could take toll on mental health, experts warn", Edmonton Sun, Canoe Inc, http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Canada/2007/09/28/4532859-sun.html