We had been noticing this “ecoATM” machine at the Thousand Oaks Mall for many months. We still had an old phone from the days of yore (prior to the arrival of the smartphones) and liked the idea of recycling it. So, yesterday, we made a point of taking the phone with us in order to recycle it, using this self-service kiosk.
The business model of the “ecoATM” is to give you cash for recycling phones and simultaneously to contribute a part of their proceeds to charitable foundations such as Make-A-Wish-Foundation. This all resonated with our point of view as we very much support efforts to create a greener America and this particular charity.
One customer review said, “Broken iPhone laying around? You have to check out these machines. Got back $100 for a cracked iPhone 4!” We thought, “why not pay for lunch by recycling our old phone?”
Here is WHY NOT:
When we discovered that the machine asks to scan your personal photo ID, take a photo of you in front of the kiosk (to compare using facial recognition software, no doubt) and requires a thumbprint on top of all that, our jaws dropped! Certainly there is justification for this, i.e., to make sure they are not collecting a stolen phone. But, this really got our blood boiling with outrage. Never have we seen a red flag waved in our face so blatantly for the potential of identity theft or a breach of privacy.
We asked the Mall security guard, his thoughts on this. He said “they are a reputable company”. And, we know this to be true. However, just a couple of days before, Apple’s app developer site was hacked. They were able to quickly contain the damage. But, what level of assurances can this vending machine company make that this will not happen, here?
The question of privacy on the Internet, on social media and Internet connected devices must be examined by each of us. There are some that say, “Privacy is for old people”. Perhaps, these people also believe that the luxury of personal freedom is just an old fashioned notion, too. Or, have they not yet connected the two concepts?
When personal freedom gets severely eroded will the pendulum swing? Will personal freedom then become the new rage? New rage or outrage, the choice is yours?
What do you think?
P.S. We took our old phone into the Apple store located a few doors down from the kiosk and they gladly recycled it for free. The YOUNG Apple staffers also were outraged when we told our story. They had no idea what that machine did. And, we happily paid for our lunch, which was a drop in the ocean compared to the price of our personal freedom.
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