Yesterday, my family surprised me with the idea of converting our guest room into a place for me to write. So after lunch my son and I went out to purchase a desk and chair. When we tried to check out, my debit card wouldn’t work. First, the cashier told me that particular register did not accept debit transactions. We tried running it as credit. Still no cha-ching. She then offered to take me to another register, but by then I was ready to go so I charged the stuff to another card. It worked, and we were on our way.
A few hours later, I received an automated call from the security department of my bank informing me of suspicious purchases made with my debit card, and that I should call back in the morning. That’s when my mind clicked into conspiracy mode. Earlier last week, I heard that several financial institutions had security breaches – my bank was one of them. Then I started thinking about all the places I use my debit card, which in today’s world are many. I just knew someone had gotten my card number and was enjoying their new 80″ plasma television or packing for a vacation to some exotic island. I commented to my wife how grateful I was that our bank was looking out for us and how that little inconvenience at the register was nothing compare to the havoc that debit card thief could have wreaked.
After a good night’s sleep, confident that my bank was watching out for me, I placed the call to the security department to clear up the issue. To my surprise, the suspicious transaction was my attempt to purchase my new desk and chair. Of course, I was relieved that my card had not been compromised, but then I started thinking of the implications.
My spending habits are being monitored, recorded, and analyzed to the point that an out-of-the-ordinary purchase raised a red flag.
The system that monitors my spending habits is able to efficiently deactivate my debit card at its own discretion; in effect restricting my purchasing freedom.
For about 17 hours, my choice was suspected to be criminal.
Here is the irony of it: Technology offers efficiency for humans. Humans exploit technology for illegal purposes. Technology offers protection against theft. Humans exchange freedom for security.
Now, I am not a Luddite, but I recognize the dangerous road we are on. Just how deep into my life does the system probe? Who gets to create my behavioral profile? How far out of my normal routine am I allowed to go before I become suspicious?
Of course, all this technology is promoted for its benefits – security, convenience, reward. But it doesn’t take a mystery writer to see where it leads. Imagine a society completely dependent upon technology. Imagine technology being controlled by those in positions of authority. Imagine those in positions of authority tasting the power of technology and realizing the reach of its influence.
Naw, that would never happen.