The RFID Micro-chip Problem; No End in Sight
Ever since the passport issue came up, many of us have wondered when this invasion of privacy will end. Well, I'm here to tell you folks that its only beginning, and what is to come will be very intrusive, and invasive to all of our privacy; here in the US, and everywhere else.
First, the State Department has moved up their date from Dec. 31st to Oct. 26th for all passports to be embedded with the RFID chip. (1)I heard that it was to be in Dec. just a month ago, in The Austin American Statesman, and then I saw in the paper that the date moved up. How the guys at The Washington Post had it right the first time, Ill never know, but one can get a passport in one day in most major cities, so I suggest that you do it now, as the Federal Drivers Licenses, with RFIDs are due in 2008, and passports are good for 10 years. I do have good news, however.
California voted down the RFID bill that would've allowed RFIDs in drivers licenses, and other forms of ID just last week in a 29 to 7 vote. The bill next moves to a State Assembly, which voted it down last year. CA. Senator Joe Simitian, (D-Palo Alto) introduced the Identity Information Protection Act of 2005 in Feb. 2005, following public outcry over a Sutter County schools plan to outfit elementary school children with badges containing RFIDs. How this will stand up to the Real-ID Act, the new Federal law that will require states to issue these IDs, will be the real question, as other states are bound to fight this invasion of civil liberties (2)
Corporate giants tout the merits of RFID, as they can install them in products to prevent theft, and also learn about consumers buying habits. They can be installed in clothing, paper products, cabinetry, and just about everything that one can imagine. The issue is whether the tags will be deactivated once they leave the store. Imagine that RFID receivers are installed in airports, seaports, highways, retail stores, exercise equipment, and even pointed at one's home! This is a scary thought, and companies, in an attempt to soothe consumers fears, have argued that items tagged with RFID chips can't be tracked beyond about five feet. There is a major problem with this reasoning; these receivers can be made stronger to receive lesser waves, so their thinking is inept, at best. (3)Eric Blossom, a veteran radio engineer, said it would not be difficult to build a beefier transmitter, and a more sensitive receiver that could make the range far greater. I dont see any problem building a sensitive receiver, Blossom said,. Its well-known technology, particularly if it's a specialty item where you're willing to spend five times as much.(6)
Verichip is the company that makes RFID tags for humans. Supposedly, the idea came around on September 11th, when firefighters were writing their badge numbers on their arms, in case they were found in the rubble. (4)They are now working on a chip that has GPS capacity; this can be a good thing, in case of a missing child, or a bad thing, if your insane ex-husband is in the military, and wants to find you. (4)
Now, Verichip Corp wants to place their RFID chips in all US troops, if they have their way. They just might, as they have some major political clout on their side. Former US Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, is on its Board of Directors. In an interview with the D.C. Examiner, the company's spokeswoman, Nicole Philbin, said that Verichip and the Pentagon are in discussions. These chips would be inserted in the right arm, and the Examiner was assured that any serviceman that didnt want the chip, wouldn't be forced to receive it. (5) The problem with this is what if the enemy has a receiver, and can pick our troops out? What about infection issues; theres also a possibility that the RFID can move through the body, as its the size of a grain of rice. If youve ever had glass in you due to an accident, and I have, it comes out in the darndest places! Could it be the same with RFID? One certainly hopes not.
Liz McIntyre, co-author with Katherine Albrecht of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to track your Every Move with RFID, said that Verichip is a huge threat to public privacy. They're circling like vultures for any opportunity to get into our flesh, McIntyre told the D.C. Examiner. They'll start with people who can't say no, like the elderly, sex offenders, immigrants, and the military..(5) Special Forces, and other elite military forces already have the Verichips installed near their collarbones, according to Randi Rhodes. Then, theyll come knocking on our doors. I have read that they have already implanted about 1000 chips in willing subjects; some are elderly folks with Alzheimers that have wandered off in the past, others are parents that want to be able to find their children in case of kidnapping. The other category is those with health problems; they wanted their chips installed in case they are unable to communicate in a medical emergency. These all sound like good ideas, but when these things are forced on the public, then it is truly an issue of invasion of privacy.
Washington Post Staff Writer-Jonathon Krim;
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