Crazy is as crazy does

You're not paranoid if your cell phone really is out to get you.

It was all too easy to laugh at the headline "Cell phones are 'Stalin's dream." But now who's laughing? Free software advocate Richard Stallman raised eyebrows with that comment to Network World editor Jon Brodkin. Some called him crazy, but some said he was right. And suddenly several things are coming to light that kinda back him up. The big news has been the revelation - some say it's old news - that iPhones have long been secretly tracking users' movements and storing the information in a highly detailed database that's in the clear and searchable. And a Network World blogger notes that the Michigan State Police can suck all the data out of your phone in under two minutes - and not only that, but if you want to know how it goes about doing that, it'll cost a half a million dollars. Meanwhile, Network World's Bob Brown relays one Cornell professor's comments on all of this - namely that we're giving up our privacy in unprecedented ways. He says: "It is vitally important to recognize that cellular telephony is a surveillance technology, and that unless we openly discuss this surveillance capability and craft appropriate legal and technological limits to that capability, we may lose some or all of the social benefits of this technology, as well as a significant piece of ourselves." Or maybe Stallman was right, and free software is the answer. Call me crazy.

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