Since I’m involved in building technology, I often worry about the unintended consequences of my work. Technology will tear apart centuries-old institutions and laws, and the process of change will not be pretty.
Very soon privacy will be effectively illegal. Private data about our health, habits, histories, whereabouts, and even our bodies will be tracked, sold, and shared. It already is, but for the most part, we consumers willingly hand over this data (by checking in on foursquare and using credit cards). Very soon that data will be passively collected without our knowledge or consent.
This will happen as soon as our drivers’ licenses and state IDs get smarter. When IDs have embedded chips (like the new US Passports today), they’ll continually broadcast our whereabouts. Our cell phones already do this. Opting out will not be possible because without these cards we won’t be able to travel. Privacy will not only be impossible, it will be illegal.