Apple praised for plan to undermine extensive system that secretly tracks customers - The Washington Post:

It is against this backdrop that many in the technological community are applauding the decision by Apple to tweak how the iPhone searches for WiFi connections. Through a relatively simple software update, the company plans to undermine a widely deployed system that stores such as Nordstrom have used to track the movements of customers to analyze shopping habits.

I think we have to realize that our activities in public were never private.  In fact, I wonder when going to the corner store went from a very public experience to a private-by-volume one.  You couldn't walk out of a mill store without everyone having an idea of what you'd purchased.  When did stores and cities get so large that the people who frequented them stopped wanting to be treated as regulars?

Would it be better if communities were smaller and the surveillance was done by Mr. Hooper?  If so, why?  (There are obvious answers -- the speed and ease with which that information can be shared, the growingly consumerist society and the corresponding change in the nature of what's being purchased -- but what are the specifics of the functionally offensive ones?)  What and whose societal values are reflected in your 1950-60s-style expectations of privacy?

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