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Now, consider the latest development regarding American citizens and their privacy. The National Security Agency (NSA) is already collecting data from cell phones, including the time of day calls take place, numbers being dialed, duration of phone calls, and other pertinent data information—though the content of each phone call is supposedly not part of the data collection. Don’t fret, that call from your Doctor regarding your sexual history is private, for now. Which brings us to an interesting press release on the U.S. House of Representatives website. Two representatives, Rep. Mike Capuano and Rep. Walter Jones are filing the “We Are Watching You Act.” To paraphrase the press release, this act “is in direct response to reports that national telecommunications companies (i.e. cable providers) are exploring technology for digital video recorders (DVRs) which would record personal activities of consumers as they watch television in the privacy of their homes.” In other words, cable companies would like to pursue the ability to monitor people in their homes as they watch television in order to better understand their audience and target consumers with specific ads.
Rep. Mike Capuano has stated, “This may sound preposterous but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy. Given what we have recently learned about the access that the government has to the phone numbers we call, the emails we send and the websites we visit, it is important for consumers to decide for themselves whether they want this technology. Think about what you do in the privacy of your own home and then think about how you would feel sharing that information with your cable company, their advertisers and your government.”
As someone who loves to play games, I’d hate to have my videogame console, the same one I’ll be playing Halo on, potentially be seen as a threat to my privacy. If the laws to monitor Americans increase, and the NSA is given a stronger reach, I’d like to know that Microsoft has safety precautions in tow to counteract such measurements. Maybe I’m just jumping the gun here, but you can never be too careful. Microsoft, my advice to you is the same thing Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We all want an awesomely powerful console, one with a more advanced Kinect camera, but we also want to know we’re not investing in a spy machine.