A link to an article about plans underway to create a Global Smart Sensor Web caught our attention on Howard Rheingold's SmartMobs blog, quoting Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
The idea of a global Smart Sensor Web is an ambitious plan, much like the Auto-ID Center's plans for "an internet of things" using RFID tags and an Internet style backend system for scalability and communications.
They similarly concentrate on getting their new technology working with Internet and Internet style tools and protocols, but only pay lip service to the huge potential Security problems, mostly by considering it to be Someone Else's Problem.
Why is there no mention of personal privacy in the various Vision and Mission statements ?
The reliance on Location Services is especially worrying, given the insecurity and privaces abuses which are evident even now with the technologies being cited:
"Having sensors everywhere is of limited value unless the sensory data and information can be accessed and distributed to end users in an easy, timely and low-cost manner. Wireless communication and ubiquitous computing technologies are enabling such connections. Due to wide use of wireless protocols like Bluetooth, 802.11a and 802.11b, and the adoption of 2.5GHz and 3GHz high-bandwidth mobile technology, a globally interconnected wireless communication network is just around the corner.
Location is an essential component of the Sensor Web. When and where sensor data is observed is of equal value to the sensor data itself. There are wide options to integrate positioning technologies (e.g., GPS, A-GPS, Internet GPS, radio-frequency identification, real-time locating system, cellular network positioning, etc.) with sensor networks. There are important research topics in location-based routing of sensors as well as optimized sensor network topology and configuration."
Many of these "sensors" will be either be carried by or will be directly monitoring people. Privacy protection should be built in at the start of this proposed new technology standard.
We already have grave doubts about talk of deploying RFID tags with Biowarefare Sensors in the consumer food chain. The risks of "crying wolf" with false alarms are too great, given that the disruption to business caused by a false alarm is likely to be almost as bad as that from a real attack.
Luckily these Smart Sensor Web plans seem to be at an earlier stage than the Auto-ID Center EPC tag ones, and perhaps there is still a chance for sanity to prevail and to get strong Privacy protocols built into the standards and laws which should regulate this literally Panopticon technology.