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Private property

Allow me to address one of the on-going issues with developing technology: personal privacy.

After recently acquiring a tablet (not an iPad or PlayBook, thanks for asking) I uncomfortably realized that it has GPS features. Hitting the map button revealed a pinpoint, which I recognized as my house. In fact, after refining the map, I found that my position was identifiable to within 12 feet. (Click -- off it goes.)

It's not that I'm fearful of being targeted by a drone bomb. But after reading a few books about the sophisticated algorithms used by Google in its quest to gather information, I feel the less co-founder Sergey Brin & Co. know about me, the better.

I was lucky to evade the Google cameras as they mapped the planet from up in the sky. The day they took the photograph of my little corner of the world, there was a cloud obscuring Stately Kane Manor.

But then, just a few days ago, a friend wrote to my G-Mail account describing an episode of road rage he had heard about. I replied and as he replied to my reply, his e-mail came to me carrying several sponsored links to services for people with anger management issues. Google's G-Mail program had apparently sifted through the very content of his e-mail, pulling out key words and matching them up with sponsored links to related areas.

That -- to me -- was a bit of a shock.

Sure, I'm not naïve enough to think there's any real security in my e-mail traffic. But I get a little twitchy at the thought of the mail carrier actually sifting through our personal thoughts, looking for specific words. And on top of that, using those words to trigger what amounts to spam!

My weakness is that I grew up in an era where you would never expect Canada Post carriers to open a letter from their mailbags.

I feel old.


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