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05/08/2003 Archived Entry: "Preparing to D-U-M-P RFID"


One thought to consider when evaluating the privacy invasion aspects of the RFID thing...if they are ubiquitious, then anyone scanning a wide area will be getting a whole bunch of data. Snipping them out and carrying a bunch of them around might be kinda fun. "My god Burt, this gal is carrying 4 pairs of bluejeans, 100 frozen dinners, and a refrigerator, and a snowblower!"...

I love the way this guy thinks.

Everybody who cares about privacy knows by now that we're soon to receive a little bonus with virtually every purchase we make -- a radio-frequency ID chip (RFID) woven into our undiewear, embedded into our bedding, planted in our pot pies, buried in our books, dug into our drugs, and tucked into our tampons. Manufacturers are lining up to contract for billions of such chips, even though the tech standards aren't quite "there" yet. The Gnomes of Euro announced long ago that, as of 2005, every scrap of their currency will carry an RFID chip woven into its fibers. (The dollar won't be far behind.)

EVERY SINGLE ITEM WE EVER BUY, EVERY BILL THAT EVER PASSES THROUGH OUR HANDS will carry a unique idenifying number. And these numbers will be scannable and trackable for the life of the item, unless the chip is "switched off" or destroyed. And The Rocket Scientist isn't kidding; industry groups really do have ambitions literally to set up a network of scanners -- in airports, seaports, along highways, in stores -- yes, and in homes -- that would tell them where their product is at any given time. And oh, goodie, wouldn't the feds also love THAT?

In anticipation of this privacy-slaughtering Blitzkrieg whose forces are amassing on the borders of our lives, we should definitely be developing exactly the kinds of defenses The Rocket Scientist suggests.

Others include:

You could also boycott RFID-tag users -- as the heroic CASPIAN has been leading a boycott of Benetton, the first clothing manufarcturer to go for the chips. Benetton partially backed off. But everybody from my beloved Wal-Mart to General Electric, thinks these chips are the greatest thing since surveillance cameras. Stopping them altogether, or even getting genuine privacy protections built into them, might be like trying to hold back the tide.

Problem is -- aside from the fact that you just can't use magnets or microwaves on everything -- you may not even know where the chips are, since they can literally be woven into fabric. And my goodness, can any normal person really manage enough paranoia or enough caution to zap every item we ever purchase or are given? It's too crazy, too much. It feels paranoid even talking about such stuff.

And no doubt a fair percentage of readers are going, "Ho hum, so what? The chips are just for inventory control. Don't be such a weirdo."

But really, we can't over-estimate the intrusiveness of these little buggers. The random scanning The Rocket Scientist plots against so cleverly is part of the problem, and a huge one. But also think about this: You buy a controversial book and loan it to me. I'm busted on a federal littering charge ... or maybe for consumption of excess lipids or for failing to prostrate myself before a statue of Our Glorious Leader ... and I'm caught with the book. The book "tells" the feddies who owns it. You, Dear Reader, are suddenly in a criminal conspiracy with me. Or at the very least, you're under investigation for Consorting with Known Textual Terrorists. Same thing with money. Remember, on the day those chips are in our dollars, unless you faithfully nuke every bill, the entire transaction history of each bill becomes traceable. And even if you DO nuke the bill, if the guy before you didn't nuke it, it still might be traceable to you. The goals of the "cashless society" have been achieved even though we still have cash.

So don't be afraid. Be prepared. Don't get mad. Get your monkeywrench ready.

Posted by Claire @ 08:55 PM CST

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