“Can a microscopic tag be implanted in a person’s body to track his every movement? There’s actual discussion about that. You will rule on that – mark my words – before your tenure is over.”
– Sen. Joseph Biden, to Judge John Roberts at Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Sept. 12, 2005
Imagine a world of no more privacy, where hidden radio frequency scanners will be constantly pointed at you, wirelessly reading microchips embedded in your clothing, shoes, bank cards and even your own flesh.
It’s the ultimate in “Big Brother,” and according to the explosive new book “SPYCHIPS: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID,” companies including Wal-Mart, Target, Gillette, Procter & Gamble Co., Kraft, IBM and even the U.S. government have all invested in making such a scenario a reality within the next decade.
Welcome to the world of Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, where tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand will track everyday objects – and even people – keeping tabs on everything you own and everywhere you go.
While it sounds far-fetched and futuristic, it’s already here and documented in “SPYCHIPS,” written by Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. These two privacy advocates have uncovered extraordinarily detailed plans to use this new technology to watch U.S. citizens.
Revelations in the book include IBM’s blueprint for a “Person Tracking Unit” that scans the RFID tags on unwitting members of the public as they move through retail stores, airports, train stations, elevators, libraries, theaters and even public restrooms. They intend to follow your every move.
Nokia is developing an RFID-reader cell phone that could be used to scan people and inventory their belongings as they walk past on the street. Bank of America has cooked up a “Crowd Identification Device” to scan RFID tags on the things people are wearing and carrying to pinpoint, identify and bombard them with targeted audio advertising messages. There is even an RFID armband that delivers a dose of paralyzing medication or an electroshock to subdue individuals.
These are just a few of the patents and patent applications revealed in “SPYCHIPS” that major corporations and the U.S. government have planned. The book chronicles efforts to keep these plans a secret, revealing the contents of confidential industry documents and outlining plans to “pacify” the public, co-opt public officials and develop spin to ensure the adoption of the RFID infrastructure.
The book also discusses the industry’s more underhanded tactics, like a foiled plot by the Grocery Manufacturers of America to mount a smear campaign against author Katherine Albrecht. As the authors were researching the book, illegal efforts were made by unknown persons to gather intelligence on them, including siphoning telephone records and targeting bank records. Someone even contacted their friends and family to probe for information, the authors say.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested in what global corporations are calling the hottest new technology since the bar code – and billions more are in the balance. Wal-Mart’s top suppliers are already on board with RFID tracking, and high-level former government officials like Tommy Thompson and Tom Ridge have joined the boards of major RFID companies. In fact, Thompson, former secretary of health and human services, now sits on the board of the VeriChip human implant company and has publicly suggested RFID implants for us all.
“Spychips could strip away our last shreds of privacy and usher in a nightmare world of total surveillance – to keep us all on Big Brother’s very short leash,” say the authors.