Sunday, February 12, 2006

So Deep / That You're Nearly a Part of Me 

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z. (and our exalted colleague Avedon Carol): We foresee a day in the not-so-distant future when the government will no longer use illegal wiretaps to spy upon its own citizenry. And won't that be wonderful? Don't answer too quickly:

An Ohio company has embedded silicon chips in two of its employees - the first known case in which US workers have been “tagged” electronically as a way of identifying them.

CityWatcher.com, a private video surveillance company, said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police . . . .

RFID chips – inexpensive radio transmitters that give off a unique identifying signal – have been implanted in pets or attached to goods so they can be tracked in transit.

“There are very serious privacy and civil liberty issues of having people permanently numbered,” said Liz McIntyre, who campaigns against the use of identification technology . . . .

The technology’s defenders say it is acceptable as long as it is not compulsory. But critics say any implanted device could be used to track the “wearer” without their knowledge.

Some of our readers may be unaware that a primitive tracking technology is already in widespread use. The device in question is much bulkier the subcutaneous RFID chip, and less reliable as well, because the trackee must voluntarily carry it everywhere (most people, oddly enough, seem eager to do so). It is popularly known as the cell phone.

In the summer of 2005, courts twice refused DoJ requests that would have compelled service providers to give the feds real-time location data on cell-phone users. Back then, of course, it was still fashionable to imagine that federal law-enforcement officials might give a rat's ass what judges thought.

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