Toll plaza with E-ZPass on the Spaulding Turnpike near Rochester, NH (via Wikimedia user Fletcher6)
That, of course, sets up a way for cities to track users as they move across town, thanks to the soon-to-be ubiquitous smartphone. And given that the National Security Agency can hack into most mobile devices, those tracking privileges extend to the feds, too.
So, even if you don't have an E-ZPass or OnStar or even a car, Big Brother can find you if he really, really wants to.
The question is: will he want to?
We're not unduly concerned about the changing state of privacy. We understand that many of today's technologies bring huge benefits -- benefits that equal and sometimes outweigh privacy concerns. The phones we use to Face Time with friends and family, the websites that connect us not only with big-box stores, but also moms and pops and Etsy entrepreneurs around globe: these are only made possible by connected networks of users.
Besides, smartphones and OnStar seem like small potatoes compared to other, far-more-insidious snooping systems. If you really want to be concerned about privacy, consider the vast, closed-circuit TV networks found in the U.K. and elsewhere -- something that we in America haven't been exposed to (yet).
All we're saying is that our grandparents' idea of privacy and our grandchildren's idea of privacy are two very different things. With proper diligence, hopefully we can make the transition from one world to the other without instilling too much paranoia or becoming a surveillance state.