personal information manager

I was just reading an article about potential ways to ensure digital device user’s privacy, even against TIA-like systems.
Mainly what they propose is use of one-way encryption similar to UNIX psswrd files.
But as I sat there reading it, I was wondering why we even need to go that far? What you really want to do is prevent the buildup of information in central databases to begin with.
So why do we have to rely on central databases?
On the web, most sites store a cookie on your computer to identify you with a record in their database. Why can’t it work almost in reverse.
When you connect to a service, wether it be a web site, a toll booth, a check out counter, or a library desk, the service provider supplies an unique identifier. Your personal digital device then pulls up all it’s records on said service. If you need to send them money, your device makes an Electronic Funds Transfer. You have control if your device needs to send out personal information. It knows your preferences and desired set-ups.
Even customized advertising would still be possible under this arrangement. After all, the holy grail of advertising is knowing your customer so well that you can show them ads that really interest them, rather than taking pot shots or best guesses. Your personal device can tell the service exactly what things you are interested in, and possibly even items you are actively seeking out at this time. That is advertising I can get behind. (Any time I don’t have to sit through a commercial for maxi-pads, I’m all about that).
I thought for a second that maybe it makes your information too vulnerable. What happens if your information device was damaged or ran out of juice or something? But hell, this can all happen with the existing centralized databases. Very likely, you wouldn’t be using just one info device anyway. You would have your computer at home. And maybe one in your vehicle. ANd a mobile one in a jewelry of some type. And they would redundantly back each other up via a Bluetooth type technology. And the issue of theft is easily bypassed with a dead-man’s-switch of some type. The moment you can no longer prove your identity to your info device, it stops providing any service with information. In fact, the very next time it is attempted to be used, it sounds an alarm.
Imagine a device as simple as a watch or bracelet. Lets face it; the amount of info you truly need to run your day to day life can now fit on something as small as a button.
You could drive right through toll booths without ever stopping.
You could walk into a store, find something you like, and walk right out again, without any kind of checkout procedure. It would scan a chip on the purchased item and your info device would automatically send the store computer the correct amount of money. And if you tried to walk out without a info device, the doors would just plain refuse to open for you. Anyone who didn’t wish to use such a system could go through a check out where the purchased items would be deactivated, to allow them to successfully bypass the door.
Find the books you want at the library and just walk out. As you leave, the chips on the books let the library know what is leaving. Your devices start reminding you to return the books in the appropriate time. And if you wait too long, your device purchases the book with your money and has it shipped to the library, or refuses to allow you to remove anything else from the library until you resolve the issue.
Imagine the utter simplicity of it all. No huge databases anywhere, outside of maybe the banks. And I’m sure if I thought about it long enough, I could solve that issue as well.
I really like the idea that you become responsible for your own information. Right now, wherever you use any of the current systems that provide similar functionalities, it is at the cost of giving up some personal information to an outside source. Why.
No profit-minded company will ever offer such a service. But imagine what people could do.
Just my thoughts on reversing the trend of people becoming numbers in a system, and instead remaining individuals, even in a highly ‘advanced’ civilization.

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