Bruce Schneier, the computer-security guru whom Brad at WendyMcElroy.com often links to, wrote a pretty chilling post on kill switches and remote control. This type of technology is an example of why government is not your only enemy, but its creation of the national-security state enables private companies and individuals to violate your rights more easily.
OnStar will soon include the ability for the police to shut off your engine remotely. Buses are getting the same capability, in case terrorists want to re-enact the movie Speed. ...
Microsoft is doing some of the most creative thinking along these lines, with something it's calling "Digital Manners Policies." According to its patent application, DMP-enabled devices would accept broadcast "orders" limiting capabilities. Cellphones could be remotely set to vibrate mode in restaurants and concert halls, and be turned off on airplanes and in hospitals. Cameras could be prohibited from taking pictures in locker rooms and museums, and recording equipment could be disabled in theaters. Professors finally could prevent students from texting one another during class.
He then brings up many of the concerns anyone should have about such frightening technology and the desire to use it. However, he makes a puzzling mistake for someone who is (I presume) thought of so favorably by so many libertarians, and for someone who understands the dangers of such Orwellian technology so well, otherwise. He says,
How do we prevent this from being abused? ...Do the police get "superuser" devices that cannot be limited, and do they get "supercontroller" devices that can limit anything? How do we ensure that only they get them, and what do we do when the devices inevitably fall into the wrong hands?
Obviously their hands are the wrong hands. The universal availability of "supercontroller" devices would make this type of technology almost completely worthless in everyday electronic devices, which seems to me would be a good thing. If state legislatures or the Congress make such devices legally available to government agents only, then we will know one huge reason that we become victims to this technology. It will be interesting to follow the development of these technologies and the legislation pertaining to them.