Nanotechnology will produce new sensors that can analyze chemical signals in our environment. And of course, we as individuals send off chemical signals that could be detected by these sensors…
And so, these privacy issues really come up completely apart from nanotechnology. We as a society need to think about how we want these collections of information to be handled and how it can be used. Who is collecting the information? Is it kept? Is it something that can be used in court? Is it something that can be used by insurance companies, etc.? It’s not really a nanotechnology issue, though nanotechnology will bring these privacy issues to the forefront. But I think it’s important to realize that society has to grapple with them very soon in any case.
The important thing to realize, both in the case of video information and chemical information collected by nanotechnology, is that while initially these collections are expensive, and are done primarily by government and by big business, longer term, these types of tools, we’re seeing it now with video cameras, will be in the hands of individuals.
So, when we think of policy options, we need to think about information being in the hands of huge numbers of individuals and how do we want that information handled.
Your input welcome! It’s a difficult issue. —Christine