Big Brother Is Looking

Feb. 18, 2020

During a visit to a local drug store the cashier asked if I was registered for their rewards card. Basically a rewards card entitles users to receive a special discount on products which they purchase. A second unforeseen byproduct is that after registering for a rewards card the store knows who you are and what you are buying. This information can be used in many subtle ways without your knowledge. While gathering my purchasing facts may be completely legal, there is no way of knowing where that information might eventually end up.

Internet sites are even more invasive. You do not have to register for rewards cards. Your email address is all they need. Every time you use a search engine for anything on the internet, somebody knows what you were looking for. From then on a litany of companies will be listed along the edge of the screen, each hawking products similar to the original product you were sourcing.

A little closer to home are the current doorbell video cameras. Cameras keep watch on their surroundings and save video and sound details in memory. Owners can view scenes and listen to sound recordings by using a special phone app. Some doorbell video systems allow police to also view video details in memory. This could amount to Big Brother possibly overstretching their boundaries. Finally, since special apps depend on home networks, in a few cases hackers have reportedly been able to determine passwords, watch the videos and actually talk to people in their homes.

Is technology moving too fast? Reports on the internet describe how millions of personal accounts have been somehow stolen by hackers. Stories abound of how hackers have taken over commercial accounts, interrupted the accounts and demanded ransoms before the accounts were restored. In many cases the only recourse was to pay the ransom.

In spite of pitfalls, some people will always be willing to take a chance on the latest gadgets. But for most sensible people, the value of a good, secure mechanical lockset far outweighs the dangers lurking with interconnected electronic networks. Improvements on the Linus Yale lock system devised in 1865 will keep locksmiths gainfully employed for years to come.