As people’s personal information from cell phones and computers is used in more and more new software applications, America’s leaders need to deal soon with how to protect people’s privacy in the process.
Personal information is now available not only from cell phones and computers, he writes, but from security cameras, digital TVs, ATMs and other devices, and is being used for such applications as programs that monitor traffic jams and others that track flu trends.
The rapid advance of computer technology means “a global sensor network monitoring much of humanity might emerge,” Dr. Mitchell says, and while there can be many benefits from using this data, “until these [privacy] issues are resolved, they are likely to be the limiting factor in realizing the potential of these new data to advance our scientific understanding of society and human behavior, and to improve our daily lives.”
In an interview this week, Dr. Mitchell said he doesn’t have all the answers about how to guard individual privacy, but wrote the essay “to stir up a discussion” about the matter.
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