Privacy and profits
The Christian Heritage Party
By National Leader Ron Gray

Picture this: you're walking down the street past a fast food outlet. The cell phone in your pocket starts to vibrate. You take it out and the screen says, "Press PRINT for a coupon for $1 off on a Super Burger Giant Deluxe with fries."

It hasn't happened yet, but the technology to allow it is all available. Cell phones can be set to vibrate instead of ring. In Finland they can be used like debit cards to make expenditures directly from the owner's bank account. They can be linked to the Internet and to global positioning satellites to determine where on the face of the globe the phone is, within 10 metres, and they can be equipped with small printers. There are already Internet sites for printing discount coupons as a form of advertising.

Should merchants be able to use our cell phones to track us, to pitch an ad to us when we're within range of an outlet?

Most people would answer, "No!" But there's nothing to prevent it right now.

It's a part of the "wild, wild west" environment of the Internet; right now, anything goes. That's a part of the charm of the Internet: it's the ultimate in publishing freedom -- but it's also part of the danger.

Let's re-cast the opening scene: Now you're driving past a casino. Your phone rings. You answer and a seductive voice says, "Slot machine number 44 hasn't paid out for 11 days; it's due for a jackpot and you could be the lucky person to put in the lucky loonie. Number 44's top payoff is $30,000. Why not try your luck?"

Should the gambling industry be able to reach into our cars to try to seduce us into the corruption of their economic pornography?

Of course not! But in a short time, this kind of harassment could become commonplace.

What is needed is a tightening of privacy provisions to protect us from invasive marketing.

It's difficult to craft laws that someone cannot find a way around. I'm reminded of G.K. Chesterton's remark: "If we will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, we will be governed by 10,000 commandments."

But we have to try.

The Christian Heritage Party is a Christian political party. Its founding convention was held in Hamilton in 1987. Although we have not yet elected a member to parliament, our objective is to provide true Christian leadership; to defend, promote and uphold Biblical principles in federal legislation; and to gain seats in parliament so that we can have a direct influence on policy changes. Learn more about CHP by visiting our website at www.chp.ca