Thursday, October 27

Bad Ideas Well Marketed

I've signed up for a couple e-newsletters recently in hopes of better staying up on what's happening in the local community. It's been a highly educational endeavor. 

Take this headline for example, from the October 13th edition of the Chamber of Commerce's newletter: "Schenectady Initiates"

This modest little article appears, at first blush, to be of only minor concern.

"[The mayor] announced the initiation of 911ai. provides personal "additional information" to dispatchers and first-responders during a 911 emergency... residents are now able to preregister information such as medical conditions, room locations, medication lists and emergency contacts by simply opening an online 911 account. That information is then available to first responders during an emergency."

It even has warm-fuzzy quotes about the noble intentions of those leading the initiative.
"The speed of response can make the difference between life and death in a medical emergency... Information provided by 911ai can provide the precious seconds that make that difference... 911ai technology enables [the identification] of each phone in [a building] enabling emergency responders to go directly to the location the emergency call was placed."
By that point the little alarm bells in my brain were starting to crescendo. Perhaps it's only paranoia, but does anyone else see cause for concern in private citizens sharing such intimate details with the government?

Isn't it a bit ironic that parents aren't allowed to access their children's grades, but anyone in a municipal government service position could have free access to the floor plan of your house, your medical history and the private phone numbers of your friends/family?

I understand their point - I really do. They want to help save lives, and with people routinely on multiple medications these days things that goal is getting more complicated all the time.

And it's voluntary, after all. No one has to participate.


Still, it seems that the public should be a little more wary of handing out such deeply personal information. Once you surrender your right to privacy, there is no way to be certain who will or won't see that information and to what ends they might use it.

As I discussed months ago in this post"The greatest harm can result from the best intentions." We, as Americans, have a duty to think critically and not readily hand over our rights and responsibilities to others just because they offer to take them or market their ideas in an attractive package.

What do you think? Am I paranoid or justifiably skeptical?

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