>RFID and Freedom

>I just saw this Duracell commercial that freaked me out. I did a little research this morning and found out it has been out for a while, but I don’t watch much television.

In case you don’t either, here’s the commercial.

The product being advertised in the commercial is the long-lasting battery, but it was the tracking device that bothered me. I immediately thought about RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Ever hear of it? When I worked at the sign shop, we sold a sign to a company not far from here that produces these devices for use in animals and (yes, true) human beings. That was my first exposure to RFIDs.

(The particular product they mention in the commercial does not have a component embedded in the skin as something like the Verachip does, but it is actually less effective because of that. A small tag is simply clipped on the child’s clothing somewhere but could be easily removed. A Verachip is—ick—inserted under the skin.)

Now, I’ll admit that the RFID technology makes perfect sense in terms of people (and animal) tracking, information storage, even financial management. Imagine a world where you never have to worry again about cash, credit cards or even your identity being stolen—a cashless society devoid of counterfeit currency or even illegal drug and arms sales—heck, the government could finally manage to control that, couldn’t they? Imagine a world where no one could grab your kid and carry them off without you knowing exactly where they went. A world where I have a severe allergy to penicillin and take a load of medications and am wheeled unconscious to a hospital—but I can still be cared for properly. A world where escaped criminals can easily be found because they, too, are tagged permanently.

Sounds like pretty good benefits. Logical. Reasonable. Organized even. I love logical, reasonable and organized…

But, then the bigger picture creeps in. Complete loss of privacy comes immediately to mind with a loss of control sneaking in right behind it.

I’ll no longer determine what information I share or when I’ll spend my money, and it’s the money end that bothers me the most.

I don’t get to wait to pay the electric bill (deciding to pay the late fees because I want to buy a new pair of sneakers). Bills come due, and I can’t kid myself into thinking the funds won’t be immediately withdrawn from my electronic financial account. They will be. Just like my house payment is now.

Hey, I owe them! I should pay them, right? That’s not a bad thing! What about all those people who don’t pay their bills now? That would sure fix their wagons, wouldn’t it? Would help fix the whole financial debacle the United States is in right now. You don’t have it…you can’t spend it.

Problem is, I’m talking about freedom—my choice to decide. It’s gone. When people control how *my money* is spent, I just lost it. Poof.

Maybe some would say it should be gone. I can’t be trusted to make the right choice. I’ll pick the sneakers—can’t have me doing that. I owe, and I should pay. And I will be paying, just not of my own responsible volition anymore. And look at the added benefit: we won’t need laws anymore to handle this. The payments are automatically taken care of. The IRS won’t audit you and fine you anymore…they have your money. They took it when it came due.

But, I pay my bills. So, my real concern is this: somebody is in control of all this information now that I’ve been “chipped”. One day, they decide to “turn off” my chip’s buying power? For a good reason? Maybe or maybe not.

Maybe a law comes down that said I’m no longer allowed to drive my foreign car. It’s hurting our economy, and I need to turn in my little Civic and buy American-made! I don’t want to—I like my Honda. Besides that, I bought that car legally, and it belongs to me! It was my free choice to do so!

Problem is, it’s the law now. Fair or not…it’s the law. But, I’m still driving it around, getting 40 mpg and running like new for more than 85,000 miles while my old Ford Mustang never made it to 50,000 miles. (Outside the purposes of this scenario, I will say that I’d give my right arm to have my Mustang back…mileage and mechanical problems be damned.)

So, I’m driving my Honda and need gas one day and poof! My chip power is off, and I can’t do squat with my money. Can’t buy gas. Can’t buy anything, actually. Not even a Diet Coke.

And now…oops, know what else? I can’t eat either. Freedom to choose is gone because “they” turned my chip off, took control of my money and left me and my Honda on the side of the road. Bad news is…I’m hungry.

I refuse to give up my Honda. Just not going to do it—it’s not right they made the law, and I’m hard at work to get that law changed. Meanwhile, I’m starving.

So, I decide I want to trade some of the junk in my house for food since I can’t buy it anymore, and guess what? They can find me. Quickly, too—awesome GPS tracking. And they can stop me because trading for food isn’t allowed. You buy it, or you don’t get it.

NOW, THE KEY QUESTION: Who’s “they”? Are “they” trustworthy? Do “they” have my best interests at heart? Do “they” always make fair laws? Since I’m not quite sure who “they” are yet, I have a hard time trusting “them” with all my money, my personal information, and my whereabouts.

Let’s assume for a second that “they” are a wonderful, fabulous, caring group. They always make the right decisions, are always fair and just, and always know what’s best for me.

Hell, people, I don’t even always make the right decisions and know what’s best for me…you think I’m going to trust someone else to do that?

It’s about freedom and responsibility. And privacy. And control. I’m a human being on this planet, and I want all those things. They are mine now, and I want to keep them. I want the freedom to make wrong choices and screw up. I don’t need anyone else controlling how I spend my money or knowing all my personal information or knowing where I am at any given moment.

While I can completely see the logic and “reasonableness” behind RFID technology, I’m here to tell you that it is evil. It’s insidious and coated in “reason” but it’s evil. Anything that takes away my freedom to choose (and face the consequences of my own choices) is just plain evil.

This is something that isn’t going away. I can promise you that. It makes too much sense in so many ways…until you start to think about it from the other side. The system we have isn’t perfect, but it does still allow the freedom of choice (and provides for the repercussions to those choices). RFID technology and the like is NOT the solution. It’s a logical, reasonable trap.


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