What an invasion of privacy! Scary! Very scary!

I ‘subscribe’ to a newsletter that talks about stuff on gadgets, phones and anything electronic that we use these days. I say ‘we use’ because many do make use of the many functions and features of these various products, apps and technology creations that everybody is hoping to get rich from in this fast-advancing electronic world that we live in.

I am not one that is interested in playing games on my computer or phone but there are many that do because it is a multi-billion industry. This is a personal choice as to what you do with your time and I am sure it is age related. I would rather be doing something constructive (my opinion) or enjoying the outdoors. But then that is what we did when I was young. There were no cell phones or computers. In the end it is how you experience life when you are in your formative years that will have a big influence on your thinking and activities for the rest of your life.

I am certainly not against all these electronic products and social media platforms. I have made them work for me in my career and family life.

I say that the more you become involved electronically, over and above what is necessary, the more vulnerable you become to fraud and an invasion of your privacy. My recent business trip, where I made use of a hired car, is an example. With no approval from my side, (it was probably in the small print) I suddenly started to get SMSs from the car hire company informing me that I was going over the speed limit allowable in the area. Firstly, I was puzzled because the car was a low cost, low engine power vehicle that was not capable of doing excessive speeds. But I was doing 50km/h in a 40km/h zone – the onramp for a the highway. At that speed you are barely moving and you are annoying many other road users. And who knows that there is a speed limit of 40km/h. It is not consistent because, now fully aware of all these SMSs that were invading my privacy, there was a speed limit sign (these are very sparce these days because most I suspect have ended up in a furnace) that I eventually found and it said 60km/h.

More alarming is, besides not being informed of the tracking, what does the car hire company do with all my data. They obviously could track and see wherever I went and who I visited. Scary!

Then I read a story where according to a document recently published on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, Ford said it is considering a system that would allow a car to, on its own, leave you if you stop making your monthly auto payments. Don’t worry, though. The patent hasn’t been approved yet. And Ford insists it’s just a thought.

But maybe some parts of Ford’s 14-page application, filled with ideas for getting people to pay up, may be more patentable than others. Before getting to the point where the car would simply drive itself away, delinquent payers would be subject to a litany of annoyances. First, badgering messages on owners’ smartphones and even on the screens inside the car. These messages would demand at least an acknowledgment or, better yet, on-the-spot payment. If the owner persists in ignoring these messages, the vehicle would, in the words of Ford’s patent application, “initiate execution of a multi-step repossession procedure.”

If the owner does not pay features like the air conditioning, cruise control, or the radio might stop working. If that doesn’t work, the vehicle could become proactively irritating. The stereo might be programmed to “emit an incessant and unpleasant sound every time the owner is present in the vehicle,” according to the patent. There would be just one way to turn off the noise. And there are many more listed.

What an invasion of privacy! Scary! Very Scary!