“Digital decade” means loss of privacy at home?

Microsoft boss Bill Gates gave his speech at the recent Consumer Electronics Show and said that the “digital decade is happening.” The BBC Technology news report has the following:

Mr Gates was speaking on the eve of the world’s largest hi-tech conference, the Consumer Electronics Show.

He told delegates that “connected experiences” were now the most important part of new technologies.

“Young people spend more time with their Windows PC than watching TV,” he said.

In a speech with few concrete announcements, Mr Gates outlined how his firm’s latest operating system Vista would be the tool to connect people.

“People want to do things with their content across multiple platforms,” he said.

He said the hardware and content had been put in place “and the key thing missing is the connections”.

Well, over here in Southeast Asia, connections are really missing due to the Taiwan earthquake, but going back to Gates’ exposition on Web 2.0 which he labels as the the “digital decade,” his speech reminds us that the last frontier for gadgets, technologies and world wide web to expand into and dominate is non other than our homes.

With present connection technologies like Blue-tooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, hi-speed internet connections; content management and storage gadgets like blue-ray discs, HD-DVDs, multi-core processors, huge hard disks etc, Gates is right in saying that all we need to do now, is to connect them all in one seamless network. All of this would be happening in our homes.

Contact points are already inside our homes; the XBOX 360, the Wii, the PS3, Ti-Vo, HD-TV, our PDAs and mobile phones and of course our computers whether be it Windows, Mac or Linux-based. Sure this is great, having your mp3 files downloaded from the net (be it legally done or otherwise), stored on your computer, playable on your home stereo system and packed-up-to-go in your iPod or mobile music player even your cellular phone with just a few clicks of the mouse; the networked home would be a paradise for the techsavvy and those who rely for such an array of connectivity to be in place for a living.

Once more industry leaders are on it, Microsoft and HP, as Gates noted in his speech has introduced the Windows Home Server. A central place where our “photos, music and videos can be saved to the system and accessed from many other devices in the home and even remotely via the internet.”

Once the home is indeed wired, networked and connected in a system run by a central home server where any home device could connect and interact on it, the alarms could go up once it is connected to the biggest network in the world, the internet. Privacy and security issues would evolve into something we could’ve never thought of before. Laws would again be stretched and twisted to various degrees and situations.

What if the RIAA suspects you’ve downloaded some illegal mp3s, could they get a warrant and search your home server? Or what if before they even go to courts and ask for warrants, they’ve already broken in your home network and secretly installed a piece of code that monitors and sniffs out illegally-downloaded content? What if that code gets taken advantage of hackers, spammers and identity thieves? The list could go on and on.

All of these are all going to happen right in our homes. The last place we thought we are safe in, could just about to be opened up to anyone, from anywhere in the world.

One Reply to ““Digital decade” means loss of privacy at home?”

  1. How would using online privacy/encryption softwares, I use one called PrivacyView for example, affect these home network servers? Could it help hide your MP3 download, etc and keep them private?
    Excellent article by the way.

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