Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nineteen Eighty-Four?

There is a really interesting technology emerging these days -- indeed, it has been emerging for some time, now -- and it wants to go home with you. It wants to live with you, and keep you company 24 hours a day.

Then it wants to tell its owner everything you do, everywhere you go, and everything you wear. It wants to tell what brand of toothpaste you use and how often you use it. It wants to announce your clothing size, your favorite colors, and your choice of underwear. It will be able to snitch on your favorite snack foods. It can, and will, target you for specific advertising based on what you purchase at any store and bring into your house.

It's called RFID. Also known as spychips.

This is the technology that you've seen advertised whereby you can locate a pet or child by having them wear a tag around the neck or wrist. The embedded chips in the tags act like locator transmitters -- a little like GPS. Useful, no? I mean, what parent or pet owner wouldn't want to be able to breathe easier, knowing that if your loved ones go astray, you can simply call the locator operator and have the darlings returned to your loving arms?

That was the first hook.

Next came implanted chips, called verichips. These are inserted under the skin. The advantage is that the tag won't be lost if the collar or bracelet breaks and falls off. Just a quick little incision, done with a local anesthetic, and the chip is permanently attached to the body, yes?

Um...no. Since they are just under the skin, they can be removed almost as easily as they are implanted -- the only difference would be the type of anesthetic used. Once thought to be a better way to keep track of felons on work-release or parole than those bulky ankle bracelets, it has now become apparent that a sharp knife and a bellyful of alcohol can allow the felon to disappear.

Those same verichips, however, can also be planted deep in the body cavity to the point where voluntary removal could be dangerous -- even life-threatening. The American government is giving serious thought to having its military troops implanted with verichips. Much easier to track down captured troops so you can effect a rescue. Much easier to locate bodies in a war zone so you can bring them home for a proper burial. Definitely much easier to follow anyone going AWOL so you can drag his sorry ass back to the stockade for some quality time on the rock pile.

And the military troops are not allowed to say, "No, thanks."

But, when the troops leave the military, the chips are removed, right?

Not a chance.

And there is an example of how a civilian population will be introduced to the concept of complete and total surveillance, 24 hours a day, by Big Brother, aka Your Government In Action.

And just because we're in Canada, don't think we're safe from this.

But about the chips that follow you home...

Several retailers, along with several manufacturers, have already begun experimenting with RFID product chips. These started out to be used for in-store inventory control, which was fine. As long as it stays in-store, there should be no problem.

But marketing companies soon caught on to the thought that if they could track items after they left the store, and find out who was buying them, they could target those consumers for specific other products in their advertising campaigns. They could see their jobs suddenly getting a whole lot easier...

The biggest problem was now one of convincing the consumers to have readers in their homes.


Scanners that "read" the code in the spychips. You know those upright posts you walk between on your way in and out of the stores? Those are readers. If the alarm goes off, it means the reader has scanned something it thinks has not yet been paid for (and sometimes it's right). It's a great way to cut down on shoplifting. But getting them into someone's home?

Any large appliance or piece of furniture can be turned into a reader. Fridge. Stove. Entertainment center/cabinet. Bed frame. Dresser. Hell, even a door post can be a reader. All it has to be is a permanent or long-term fixture in the home. In the bathroom, there's a choice -- toilet, sink, bathtub.

This isn't going to happen overnight. But it is going to happen. The time will come when, by law, all new houses will have to have readers built into them, just like all cars have to have seatbelts installed.

Your retailers want to know what you wear, what you eat, what you drink, where you go, what movies you rent/buy, what music you listen to, what library books you check out (oops -- that's the government that wants to know that), what books you buy, what and where you drive, what's your favorite color, do you wear boxers or briefs or thongs, what's your weight/height/ethnicity -- and yes! they can tell all that!

Your government just wants to know everything it wants to know, and never you mind why they want to know. Homeland Security has everything under control...

Quoted from the linked article in Mother Jones:

MJ: How might the government use this technology for homeland security?

KA: Depending on your politics, you may attend a peace rally or a gun show or a talk by a Muslim cleric or a union meeting or a particular political rally, all of which are protected by the First Amendment. But in the RFID world, federal agents could attend that meeting with a hand-held reader hidden in a backpack, mill around long enough to capture a couple thousand RFID numbers associated with the people at the meeting, upload all of that to a central database, cross-reference it, and figure out everybody who was there.

Also, once you’ve got the private sector wielding all of this technology, they are at liberty to sell that information to the federal government. At that point, the government does not run a foul of Constitution restrictions for essentially spying on its own citizens. There are a lot of private sector-government partnerships in sharing of this information once it’s been gathered, and we anticipate that there will be more and more of that in coming years.

The emphasis in that last paragraph is mine.

You may already be carrying the spychip around with you. It may have been implanted in store "loyalty" cards -- you know, those discount/membership cards from Safeway and Save-On?

If you bought shoes at Wal-Mart, you are very likely wearing the chips.

If you wear Champion sports gear, you are definitely wearing the chip.

If your new television is a Philips, like mine, you might have a chip (I found mine and got rid of it).

A friend of mine who is quite familiar with eschatology and biblical prophecy has dubbed this technology The Number Of The Beast. It is said that you will not be able to buy, sell, rent, travel, or hold a job without being implanted with it.

Any thoughts?


Blogger Psychols said...

Well intentioned policemen and civil servants often propose intrusive surveillance technology in the name of peace and order. While the use of RFID surveillance may sound like conspiracy theory, it is not unreasonable to expect that there will be individuals who feel that this technology serves the greater good. Unfortunately the loss of human dignity associated with increasing law enforcement activities is often neglected.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 7:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dez said...

None of this is a surprise to me, though I was not aware that the technology had advanced so far yet. The free exchange of freedom for apparent security is an inevitable result of our current government's intentions.

There are only 2 groups of people who have true privacy and freedom: the extremely rich and the extremely poor. The rich have as much privacy and freedom as they are willing and able to buy. The homeless poor have no identities to track, no credit cards, no material possessions with imbedded chips - and, most importantly, nobody cares what happens to them, since they are not "consumers".

The rest of us need to be aware of the eyes and ears that watch our every move. Big Brother is here, and he has tools that George Orwell never envisioned.

This is only the beginning. It will get worse.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 6:55:00 PM  
Blogger DazzlinDino said...

It's not a bad idea for the military I guess, but the problem would be how much "searching" groups like the Al Quada would do to find these chips on captured soldiers......could get pretty messy...or they might not even hold them captive, just disect and kill them, then use the chip to lure more troops in....

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 7:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Janus! Dazz! You just added another horror that I hadn't even thought of...!

It might, however, serve as a deterrent for military application, if the government knows that the soldiers are likely to be eviscerated by the enemy.

On the other hand, look who's the C in C...

Dez: You are so right about who gets to keep their privacy. I'm not rich; I don't wanna be poor, therefore, I'm under the microscope, eh?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 11:55:00 PM  

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