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|I Am Skooter|
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
From the March, 2001 issue of the Atlantic Monthly
The Reinvention of Privacy
It used to be that business and technology were considered the enemies of privacy. Not anymore
BY TOBY LESTER
A relatively unsung virtue of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is that its database can be viewed collectively as a sort of cultural seismograph, registering interesting spikes of entrepreneurial enthusiasm. A patent application files on January 10, 1995, is part of one such spike. Issued as U.S. Patent 5,629.678 (“Personal tracking and recovery system”), the patent is summed up in an abstract that begins,
Apparatus for tracking and recovering humans utilizes an implantable transceiver incorporating a power supply and actuation system allowing the unit to remain implanted and functional for years without maintenance…Power for the remote-activated receiver is generated electromechanically through the movement of body muscle.
A lot has changed since 2001, and not necessarily for the better. Worth reading.
There’s a general sense, too, that businesses in the modern free market are indifferent to the threats their new technologies pose to privacy. That sense seemed powerfully confirmed in early 1999, when Scott McNealy, the chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems, was asked whether privacy safeguards had been built into a new computer-networking system that Sun had just released. McNealy responded that consumer-privacy issues were nothing but a “red herring,” and went on to make a remark that still resonates. “You have zero privacy anyway,” he snapped. “Get over it.”