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February 21, 2006

Robot Invasion... of Privacy?

Robot Dreams has an interesting story: Vending Machine Robots Provide Security For Children.

Apparently schools in Japan are testing a system to track young students on their way to and from school. The system will use the existing network of street vending machines. Each child will have an ID tag (presumably RFID). When they pass a vending machine their tag will be read, they will be photographed and the information sent to their parents.

Am I the only one to feel nervous about this?

Yes, we all want to protect children. This system will undoubtedly make parents feel happier.

But what sort of signal is it sending to the next generation? We are bringing them into a world where they can expect to be routinely tagged, scanned and recorded. A world where privacy - an essential part of growing up as well as an essential part of adult life - no longer exists.

How long before such a ubiquitous tracking system begins to seem normal and is extended to adults?

In the UK we will all soon have compulssory RFID enabled ID Cards. I'm willing to bet that someone in our government is watching the Japanese experiment in the hope that they can introduce something similar here.

Yes, we must "think of the children".

But we must also think of the adults and our right to privacy.

Welcome fellow robot fans (is "robophile" a real word?). On this blog I'm going to indulge my love of all things robotic. I'll cover "serious" news - technology, industrial robotics, etc - but my main interest is the "fun" stuff. Household robots, robotic pets, that sort of cool stuff. Enjoy.
- Trevor

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