We know where you're looking

I was interested to see that Google’s new Android phone has a built in compass, introducing yet another dimension to your cyberspace footprint. Added to GPS, cellular triangulation and built-in cameras, it’s clear that we’re progressively sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Not only can we pinpoint your position, we can also tell which way you might be facing.

Now I’m not an expert on these technologies, so I can’t really judge just how accurate these technologies might become at pinpointing your position. But I do recall Peter Cochrane, BT’s original futurologist, telling me around ten years ago that with a combination of these positioning technologies we could eventually pinpoint people to around half an inch. Peter was always inclined to make dramatic statements, but he’s a very smart technologist.

The interesting question is “Does anyone care?” The impression I get is that out of every four people, one seems to be obsessed about privacy, another doesn’t give a damn about it, and the other two take a risk assessment. In other words, concern about privacy seems to follow a bell curve. Let’s hope that the designers of our corporate policies and information systems are more inclined to the cautious end of the scale.