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Cheers - AE

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Some recommended reading and a brief update

Not a post as such - I'm still wrestling with making this place a little easier on the eye - but a link to an excellent piece on the nanny state at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia. It's by an Aussie writer by the name of Chris Berg, who for small-staters and libertarians is probably the best reason to ever read The Sunday Age. His theme in the article is that the nanny state is bad for democracy, and while I've become fairly cynical about democracy I can't argue with the point Chris Berg is making when he says:
... dismissing individual responsibility has consequences. Once you've accepted that the government should not treat people as autonomous, all sorts of authoritarian policy results.
It's aimed at the Aussie nanny state of course, but it's just as applicable to any other country with a busy clique of nannies, Righteous and healthists. Go read the whole thing, and especially the bit about the worryingly authoritarian sounding Preventative Health Taskforce - you just know you've got something just like it by a different name where you live, don't you?

Oh, and an update on something I blogged a couple of weeks ago (which having just revisited I now realise came with a free broken link - oops, sorry). Remember the business of TomTom selling data collected from its customers satnavs to the Dutch rozzers so they could better plan where to set speed traps? Remember how this caused no small amount of embarrassment to the company and forced them to go into what the papers called "damage control"? Well, it turns out that they're planning on selling the data they gather on Australian TomToms as well.
TomTom Australia says it is planning to sell GPS data collected about its customers' journeys to road authorities and private companies even after it was forced to apologise when that same data was used by Dutch authorities to set speed traps.
[TomTom Australia's vice-president of marketing, Chris Kearney] said TomTom was hoping to offer the data - which includes journey times, speeds and routes taken - to Australian organisations like the RTA and VicRoads in the second half of this year, although nothing had been confirmed.
The RTA is New South Wales' Road and Traffic Authority and VicRoads is a similar body here in Victoria. In UK terms they're like a hybrid of the DVLA and the Highways Agency, but since they're also involved in issuing fines, including for speeding, it's a John Carpenter style hybrid which might look alright but you're not sure you can trust it.
He said he would have to examine ways of preventing them from using it to set speed traps.
I'd suggest you have a choice. If you want the money then just sell the data without any preconditions, which I'd bet TomTom is perfectly within its rights to do. If your customers aren't happy with the idea they'll find a way to let you know, probably involving buying someone else's brand. On the other hand if you genuinely don't want it used to plan speed traps then don't fucking sell it to them.
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