Life on the side in Tokyo



Saturday, October 15, 2005

Spychips

It's only fiction, right?? Sorry, think again. RFID and spychips are coming soon to a supermarket near you. Yummy this isn't and it should leave you with an upset stomach. What are spychips? They are tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand, which can be tracked by Radio Frequency Indentification (RFID) units with miniature antennas. Why is this a concern? Because, according to Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) "RFID tagged items can be monitored invisibly right through items consumers normally consider private, like clothing, purses, backpacks and wallets."
What this basically means is that retailers, such as supermarket giants Walmart and Tesco, will be able to secretly track your every consumer habit, argue authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre in their book "Spychips: How Major Corporations and the Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID." Governments, too, could well get in on the act. The Pentagon generals must be drooling. If internet data mining wasn't bad enough, now companies can follow you as you ride the train, drop by bookstores or libraries and wander through shopping malls.
What can you do about it? The first step is to know what's going on. It seems that millions of Americans are strarting to sit up and take note and Albrecht and McIntyre's book is now one of the top 10 bestsellers. Consumer boycotts of big-brother retailers may also prove effective. No doubt, the fight over privacy has reached a new stage, where Buy Nothing Day gains a new meaning and imperative. Get ready for action, and in the meantime, be careful what Manga you pick up as George Orwell's "thought police" may be watching.

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