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August 2004, Volume 11 Nr. 14, Issue 135
  
Discovering Emmanuel Goldstein 
Spychips and the End of Privacy

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

Perhaps no-one noticed.  Worse, perhaps few in this age of assumed state intrusion and control any longer cares.  Two news reports surfaced during the month of July that should give every freedom loving person pause.  On July 2, 2004, in an article entitled, "Military on Alert for Coke's chip contest", CNN reported that Coca-Cola's "Unexpected Summer" promotion for regular Coke can dial-out using the cellular system and pass along the exact coordinates for the location of the can, i.e., the beverage drinker.  The can contains a microchip containing a cell phone equipped global positioning system (GPS).  Participants in the contest agree to be tracked for a period of time.  Coca Cola calls the promotion "Coca Cola.  Unexpected Summer.  You can win but you cannot hide."  Contestants buy a Coke hoping to find the GPS/Cellular equipped can which is then activated to dial into Coca Cola.  Consumers entering the contest agree to be traced and eventually found.  Needless to say, the military is not too pleased about having these high tech Coke cans appearing in sensitive places around the world.  Beware where you drink your cola.  The company says of the can that, "It cannot be an eavesdropping device."  Caveat emptor.

The other news story was the announcement that IBM began testing its radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.  RFID tags, supercharged bar codes, can be as small as a grain of sand.  IBM began testing the product tracking devices in Nice, France.  RFID tags have the potential of tracking any product at any time and over time, anywhere in the world.  

RFID tags and GPS/Cellular technology soon to be standardized and placed within the items that we buy, our credit cards, driver's licenses, automobiles, refrigerators, beer, etc., anything really, creating a future replete with the endless capability of finding and tracking anything on the planet that contains it.  RFID tags pick up nearby radio energy emitted by a reader and transmit back unique identification number/data information.  Present technology allows the RFID tags to function up to 30 feet from the reader.  Increased range is a matter of time.  The spychip has arrived.

Implications

Consider the implications of GPS/cellular-capable RFID tags.  What are the consequences of including micro-video camera and microphone capabilities onboard the spychips?  I don't believe in the assurances offered by the RFID industry that these devices will not soon be spying on us in our most intimate and private moments.  My privacy will be no better than are my telephone conversations and email correspondence.  I don't trust the corporations and I do not trust my government as one more and more becomes the other.  

RFID tags are,

...an evolving auto-identification technology that is quickly being adopted by suppliers of all sizes. Wal-Mart, the U.S. Department of Defense and Target have mandated that suppliers employ RFID tags for their supply chain.  (Printronix.com)

RFID tags are also known as Smart Labels and the technology is on the cusp of explosive dissemination.  Veterinarians use RFID tags to track pets.  Some toll roads use the technology when offering speed passes.  The July 8, 2004 National Business Review (N.Z.) reported that according to the Osaka, Japan, telecommunications ministry, primary school children will be tracked through providing personal items such as nametags and schoolbags and "more sophisticated tags can record events as well as location."  Japan is speedily moving forward in integrating RFID tags throughout society.  In the same article of The National Business Review it was reported that,

Japan Telecom recently began promoting software that allows office workers carrying RFID reader-enabled PDAs to scan RFID tags on telephones, allowing a central switching operation to map calls for those workers to the phone they happen to be working nearest.

"RFID enabled" school children and office workers are just the first step in achieving a completely RFID enabled society.  

RFID tags can be either silicon or less expensive paper technology.  The price of RFID tagging is dropping quickly.  When the costs per RFID tag reaches a penny per item everything  imaginable will be so tagged and tracked.  RFID tag readers will proliferate and be embedded into Internet accessible home products including telephones, appliances, electric meters, computers, PDAs, cell phones, cordless phones, TVs, etc.  Ekahaua, a Wi-Fi (wireless internet) positioning company...

...proposes a smart position engine. This application is a powerful positioning server that provides PC, PDA, and asset TAG location coordinates (x, y, floor) and tracking features to client applications. Ekahau's patented positioning technology features up to 1 meter (3 ft) average accuracy, enabling people and asset tracking both indoors and outdoors. (RFIDbuzz,com, July 22, 2004)

From manufacture through distribution, usage and final disposition, everything from a roll of toilet paper to insulin, paper money, coins, checks, etc. will be tracked.  Documents from legal to memos are easily tracked (Aware Tracking Solution).  The lifetime  location and usage of anything, everything and everyone are data to be recorded, bought, sold, manipulated, traded.  We and all we buy and do, where we go, our likes and dislikes will be part of a massive personal portfolio.  We are expected to trust the corporate-state to maintain and use their dossier on us in our best interest.  

Beyond Product Cataloging and Inventory Control

Embedded microchip microphones and microchip video cameras potentially put an end to any notion of privacy anywhere.  RFID tags will be found in automobiles, offices, work places, banks, buses, trains, planes, elevators, etc.  They may be equipped with audio and video capable cellular-equipped GPS and wireless biometric scanners.  Biometric scanners use retinal, finger print and facial expression scans, voice prints, vein thermal sensing and odor sniffing for positive identification and authentication.  Someday, we may look into the rear view mirror or peruse the snack aisle at our local supermarket and Big Brother will know who we are, where we are, what we look like, what we are looking at, what we are doing, what we are saying, and with facial expression recognition technology know what we are feeling and/or thinking.  

Some day our Internet accessible high definition satellite surround sound television theaters will gather our conversations, moods and attitudes in massive product and database surveys measuring the effectiveness of advertising and political propaganda.  The technology could create an identity theft nightmare.

...proponents underestimate the value of the information content they collect. While they relish an end to lost library cards and damaged barcodes, they fail to acknowledge that an individual's fingerprint cannot be changed if stolen. As a result, if someone's fingerprint were copied/stolen, in a society heavily reliant on biometric readers, that individual would in effect have had his or her identity stolen...a man, working from a latent fingerprint, was able to fool a biometric reader with a fake finger made of gelatin ("Gummi bears"). Since we leave fingerprints on almost everything we touch, a highly biometric-dependent society would consist of citizens who left their "passwords" on everything they handled. [http://www.ualberta.ca/~sandraa/cla/biometrics.pdf]

The End of the First Amendment and Freedom

During the last weekend of July, 2004, I attended the Veterans For Peace national convention in Boston.  The convention ended as the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was beginning.  Pro-peace veterans and thousands of other people were gathering to protest a variety of important issues throughout the week.  Fortress Boston gave the protesters a closed-off piece of urban landscape a block or so away from the Fleet Center.  The area, a concentration camp cage with fenced-in walls contained  razor wire on top.  The site, flooded during a recent downpour, being the urban gulag reserved for United States citizens and their expression of free speech.  The protesters were to be crammed into a 28,000 square foot area.  It was  dark, and out-of-sight, but not out of surveillance.  Protestors demonstrated throughout the week at the DNC, but avoided the cage.  What a shame that all these people, the protesters and the delegates, could not be subcutaneously outfitted with souped-up RFID tags.  What a let down for the fascist mind that a giant screen in the Pentagon cannot yet display the identification, social security number, drivers license, location, residence, retina scan, finger print, conversation, voice print, mood, view of and view from any and all  microchip-embedded "citizens".  

How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized. (1984, George Orwell, Chapter 1, Part 1)

How far away is a  world where high-tech homing devices can target anyone through  sophisticated laser, microwave, chemical and other weaponry guided by RFID tags and allied super-technology?  Imagine embedded microchip devices capable of inflicting pain or injecting incapacitating doses of mood altering and paralyzing agents.  Imagine a society where such technology is embedded at birth to "protect and defend" the citizen throughout their life.  The possibilities and implications are staggering.  And of course, we need to understand that Big Brother always knows  what is best.  We need to accept Big Brother's "protection" technology in a world where Immanuel Goldstein is everywhere.  We are taught and programmed to believe that, like Goldstein, any resistance is futile.  Immanuel Goldstein is a character in George Orwell's novel 1984 who is rumored to lead The Brotherhood in a perpetual revolt against Big Brother.  Goldstein is a fabrication created by Big Brother to instill fear and acquiescence. 

Goldstein has a broader purpose to Big Brother.  Not only is Goldstein the face of the "enemy'", a "person" to hate, more tangible than "Eurasia" or "Oceania"; Goldstein is also a tease of hope and possibility.  He is someone rebels may secretly admire, a hero, a special person who is sticking it to "Big Brother".  The reason to allow Goldstein to seem really to be getting away with a little is that the spirit-crushing (when a potential rebel finds that Immanuel Goldstein fails) is even greater than that of a person who only thought of it as "enemy". (JeanneE Hand-Boniakowski)  

Scarlet Letter Neurosis

What will the emerging RFID tagging and associated technologies do to the collective psyche and well being of the nation?  What effect does perpetual spying technology at a time of orchestrated perpetual war have on the population?  The goal of war is not victory, but the continuation of war, perpetual fear being the motivation for our accepting, embracing and protecting Big Brother in our heart and mind.  We may never be alone.  Our most intimate moments from grief to procreation will be accessible.  Our excretory functions and eating habits are technologically as easily accessible and monitored as are our  expressions of the constitutional rights of assembly and free speech.  There is the possibility that free speech in such a society may become antiquated and irrelevant.  Since we are all worthy of surveillance in such a world, we will all be presumed guilty of something by virtue of our existence.  People exist, therefore they must be tracked.  Big Brother's digital scarlet letter will be upon us all.  It will shame and degrades us all, and we know it.

An RFID tagged world is bound to add to the collective neurosis of a society already plagued by depression.  Just who the hell am I?  Where do I fit in?  How is my world view affected when privacy no longer exists?  What is the purpose of privacy?  Society is entering into an increased era of psychopathology where RFID tags further foster collective schizophrenia.  The cackle of voices we sense are packets streaming over the Internet and throughout the electromagnetic spectrum.  Such a super high tech spied upon society cannot help but create a super alienated populace where we suspect everyone of everything and in turn are suspected.  As "good citizens" fearing and loving God and Big Brother we will willingly  accept the prying, spying and intrusions.  We will become all too eager to be watched and to watch each other.  We will all be deputized agents, permanent members of the Committees in Defense of the Homeland.  Security over freedom.  Vigilance over liberty.  We have found Immanuel Goldstein and discovered that he is us.  

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. (1984)

2004 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

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