The New York Times has an article titled “How urban anonymity disappears when all data is tracked” by Quentin Hardy which appears in its “Bits” section. I just posted a comment on that article, which is reproduced below:
I hope everyone realizes, after their upset, that these circumstances are a direct consequence of the way American individualism, by default, trumps collective concerns. In particular, it is seen as counter-market for the government to plan and lay out energy infrastructure and much else. Patents are held on mines, and energy sources are private property. In other countries, sources are held by government for the collective good and licensed for development. Here, until there is a “proven harm”, access to information is “just another commodity” to be “developed”. Any other approach interferes with “technological progress”. I would not expect much progress on regulating these. However, I do see rich possibilities of businesses and start-ups which provide technical means for blocking and obfuscating and even confusing access by large corporations to data, and by governments. It’s sad, because, properly used, access to this information could be helpful for our general well-being. Still, without rules, the way the market responds is to solicit fees from concerned users, and build businesses whose sole purpose is to confuse and distort the data which governments and corporations collect, so to devalue it. Sounds like a neat technical challenge to me.