Scott McNealy: Big Brother, or Just Being Dad?

Scott McNealy heaved another log on the bonfire of personal privacy tonight in a typically colorful speech at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

"If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that," the chairman and chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems Inc. said.

"Some people call that Big Brother; I call it being a father."

McNealy would also slot a smart card into the dashboard of his car, so that whenever he loaned it to his son he'd know his whereabouts exactly. He's also not daunted at the thought of cameras being installed on every street corner, something that could easily happen when all devices are made intelligent and connected to networks, he said.

"There will be cameras everywhere, and I think that's OK. There are places they don't belong ... but it will make the world a safer place," McNealy said.

The Sun chief may be may be way out of sync with consumers, many of whom have become increasingly guarded of their privacy as Internet companies promise them a more "personalized" experience. He has already irked privacy advocates once, when he declared at a product launch last year: "You have zero privacy; get over it."

Nevertheless, the vision McNealy began pushing half a decade ago, of a digital world populated by smart appliances connected to networks, may have been right on the money. All manner of smart networked devices made their debut here this week, and in other speeches, the chief executives of Microsoft Corp. and 3Com Corp. spelled out their visions of the future in terms that sounded very much like McNealy's own.

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