I've just read an article on The Register which detailed a system that Shopping Centres are now using to track people's movements around a shopping centre using their Mobile Phone. When a phone registers with a network, it gets a TMSI address (a bit like a dynamic IP address) - and this PATH software is able to locate a handset to within a couple of metres - good enough to track which shop punters are going into.
Even though the makers say that each individual TMSI is refreshed at each phone reset - with more and more people leaving their phones on for sustained periods - it's not particularly outrageous to say that if I worked out my own TMSI, then the data is no longer anonymous.
Anyway - that's a little beside the point. When I walk into a shopping centre, there are plenty of CCTV cameras. I believe the mandate for putting them there is for my protection, rather than tracking my consumer habits. Imagine some 'hoody' walking into a shopping centre, stealing something - then getting his phone confiscated by Police to work out the TMSI to see where the 'hoody' has been for the last few hours. It's technically possible with this new system.
With the advance of technology, there are loads of completely un-sexy but massively important questions that need to be answered. At the moment the government and authorities are simply seeing £'s. There's technology being put together and used that infringes far more on our civil liberties than someone owning a copy of a terrorism handbook.
So, let's get un-sexy and start discussing what we want from technology. Just because we can doesn't mean we should.