Living In A Smart World

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Authors

Global Times - Xinhua ChinaGlobal Times - Xinhua China
Katina MichaelUniversity of Wollongong

Abstract

As "smart" devices continue to advance, government regulation is lagging far behind, leaving citizens vulnerable to giving away their private information without their knowledge, said Katina Michael, vice chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation. People sometimes don't even know what embedded sensors are in the devices that they're carrying, Michael said, but the information that they record can be pieced together to create a frightening surveillance profile. "There are many social implications if I know your whereabouts 24 x 7. I can track your location history, for example -- I know exactly where you were on the Earth's surface, I know how fast you were traveling which tells me your mode of transport, if any, and I'm probably able to infer what you were doing," said Michael. "If I know through the devices that you're carrying: who you are -- through your ID, where you are -- through GPS or wifi enablement, when you were there -- through a timestamp, and what you were doing -- through the visual imagery you are taking photos or records of, then we pretty much know what is actually in your mind," she added. Moving towards a more transparent society, where mobile recording devices can be used to capture what's happening at any given time -- with life-bloggers recording every waking moment through autography devices, and police use dashboard cameras and headsets to record video later used as evidence in court, also comes with a trade-off: the erosion of personal privacy. "There's an asymmetry involved here. The wearer of these wearable devices is always a more powerful constituent in this relationship. Those individuals who choose not to be a part of this new information society may find themselves on the wrong side of any particular imbalance," Michael said. "The asymmetry gets greater and greater as the number of devices grow, (between) those that have wearables and those who don't, and those who don't wish to participate and live off-grid. "Yes we understand that once we step out our front door we can' t expect privacy. But private things can be gathered, such as the clothes that we wear, the places that we frequent, if I want to go to a religious building on a weekend ... I should have an expectation of privacy and there should not be recordings of me going about my everyday life," she added.

Suggested Citation

Global Times - Xinhua China and Katina Michael. "Living in a smart world" Global Times Jun. 2013.