Thursday, December 29, 2005

What is worse than the spying that we know that George Bush has done? How about what he could be doing.

This is kind of spooky, especially in light of the news we have seen the past few days involving the Bush administration's penchant for circumventing normal legal channels to spy on people.

Bar codes on products are going the way of the horse-drawn carriage, and being replaced so called RFID chips (short for Radio Frequency Identification), which look like small square patches with wires. And scanning the item at the checkout counter is only the first thing they are good for.

To the industry that makes and markets RFID, it's simply the next logical step from bar codes: providing a cheap, easy way to keep products on the shelves, consumers happy and companies making money.

But to many privacy-rights advocates, RFID tags could be the forerunner to nightmare scenarios in which RFID technology is the Trojan horse that brings Big Brother into your home, snooping through your medicine cabinets, fridge and underwear drawer to find out what you do, buy and believe, and, ultimately, what you are.

This small tag has, so far, largely flown under the radar of consumers and the mainstream press. But in early October, privacy-rights advocates Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre published a book, "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID," that has RFID proponents on the defensive....

And the federal government plans to put RFID tags in passports, prescription medications and perhaps driver's licenses and postage stamps. One day, the "Spychips" authors fear, the tiny tags could be on everything from candy bars to dollar bills, compromising both privacy and personal security.

The wires and microcircuitry in RFID chips allow the movement of the chip, and even its orientation, to be tracked by anyone who has the inclination to do so. And since they are putting these chips in everything from cassette tapes to underwear labels, it is already possible to track every single person. But if the government is successful in integrating it into, for example, driver's licences, then it is safe to say that any kind of personal freedom will be severely restricted.

I won't be around the blogosphere for a couple of days; I get to spend some time in Albuquerque with my kids (well, plus what I'm sure will just be a complete blast of a fun afternoon at the dentist). My wife is insisting that I go as planned, probably because she needs a break. But you see, I chose to tell you that. I also could have not told you that. I value the freedom to tell or not tell. I don't want some government employed spook somewhere punching up my name on a computer and gets a picture perfect view of everything I see, courtesy of some innocuous looking tag on my belt.


EAPrez said...

This stuff has be real concerned. Hope all is well in your world. Albuquerque - I envy you - my son is residing there with his father who is active duty Air Force.

Day by Day said...

Slowly our privacy and our freedom are being under handling taken from us. Damn shame!!! Before you know it we will have bar codes with little wires implanted in us.

Hope you enjoy your trip... Happy New Year, Eli! ;)

dorsano said...

I won't be around the blogosphere for a couple of days;

Have fun, Eli - I won't be around much either after the week. We'll be on the GunFlint trail for a week.

Anonymous said...

As long as the implants don't say 666, we're OK.

Beth said...


Hope you guys have fun! And I also hope everything is all right with your wife.

Happy New Year!

Eli Blake said...

We're back.

The irony is, I posted that ankle bracelets like Martha Stewart's SHOULD be used to track sex offenders, and this kind of technology could make those things as obsolete as an Edison phonograph.

But there is a huge difference between a sex offender (a demonstrated hazard to others) and ordinary citizens who have not been convicted or otherwise given any reason to suspect that they are involved in any activity for which they would have to be monitored.

Anonymous said...

I believe I am entitled to a proper amount of privacy and do not relish the idea of this sort of intrusion at all.

Hope all is well there, Eli.