I know that the changes high technology have worked in our culture aren’t all good. You only have to go to a public space and watch people glued to their cell phones to see that.
But I’d argue that technological advances have mostly helped society. Just consider how helpful it is to not have to hand-wash clothes or travel via horse — or need a printing press to read enjoyable articles.
Yes, various developments have truly aided us. But there are some changes that seem worrisome, particularly when it comes to privacy.
Consider those digital street signs you see in highly congested areas. You know the ones I’m talking about, the signs that display your speed in real time and begin to flash if you start going too fast.
Well, according to the news site Quartz, those signs might do more than merely warn you about your velocity. Some of them have the ability to read your license plate, and a license-plate surveillance program has been in force with the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2008.
“There used to be an old police saying, ‘If you robbed a bank, please drive carefully (because police probably wouldn’t catch you),’” former NYPD Detective Sergeant and Bronx Cold Case Squad commander Joseph Giacalone explained to Quartz. “But that’s no longer in effect because you can drive slow, you can stop at every red light, but these license plate readers and surveillance cameras track your every movement.”
Few of us will likely face that kind of criminal situation, but many do have another potential privacy risk right in their own homes: Amazon’s Alexa. Though no one has come up with any credible cases of the electronic gadget spying on users, some suspicions still linger.
It didn’t help that CNN reported that Alexa began emitting an eerie cackle last October apropos of, well, nothing. Amazon said the disquieting laughter was nothing more than a malfunction.
Perhaps that’s what happened with the location watch of a 7-year-old girl from Papillion, Nebraska. However, her mother isn’t so sure.
According to KVII, Tiffany Berney gave her young daughter Makkenna a pink smartwatch. It’s supposed to account for her location.
Also, the watch can record ambient sounds so an adult can tell what sort of surroundings a child is in. Berney explained, “If she doesn’t answer within 10 seconds, it automatically answers, so I can hear the background just to make sure everything is okay.”
Yet on the way to school one day, it started functioning in a decidedly odd manner. The worst part? It seemed as though a creepy man might’ve gained access to it.
“I got a phone call from her saying that her watch was making funny noises and there’s weird people talking to her on it,” Berney said. “I was like, ‘Oh, she’s overreacting. My oldest has her spooked or something.’
“Then she had played it and was telling me about it, and I was like, ‘That’s legit.’”
A male voice on the watch said, “I just want to play, don’t tell your daddy. Just step into the car.”
Creepy prank or something far sinister? It’s hard to tell, but I bet it’s enough for the Berney family to stage a quick home technology audit.
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