10:03am

Mon January 27, 2014
Opinion

Burriss on Media: Tracking

Dr. Larry Burriss
Credit mtsu.edu

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  -  With all of the news about the National Security Agency tracking our cell phones and e-mails, it’s easy to forget that it’s not just the federal government that is collecting information about us.  Plenty of other folks have access to all sorts of data about our lives, and in many cases we don’t even know it is being collected.
    Think about your car.  Beginning this year every new car has a to have a black box that keeps track of such things as speed, direction, braking, steering wheel angle and dozens of other data points.  When that information is combined with data from the car’s GPS, our entire driving history will be available.
    What's the big deal, you say?  Well, California officials are talking about taxing drivers according to how many miles they drive.  And where will that driving information come from?  Your car’s electronic devices.
And consider this:  a couple of years ago a hacker in Austin disabled more than 100 cars by remote control.  So what will a hacker be able to do with and to these new devices and what they have stored?
    You know that new electric meter the power company quietly installed on your home?  That device not only tells how much electricity you use, but when you use it.  And last year a German researcher discovered that since different devices use different amounts of power, it might be possible for someone to tell what equipment you are using and when you are using it.
    Even the United States Department of Energy has warned that data collected from smart meters could be sold to third parties.
    All of us are becoming more and more aware of how much information we deliberately give away every day.  Indeed, data about almost every purchase we make, television channel we watch and phone call we make is recorded and stored.
    Maybe you don’t really care who is gathering what other kinds of data on you, and that’s ok.  But at least we need to be informed about who is collecting that information, and what they are doing with it.  So that if you are concerned, you can do something about it.
    I’m Larry Burriss.