Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Erasing the Mark of the Beast

A couple of firms are working on technology that will deactivate RFID spychips, in order to protect consumer privacy. The TagZapper site explains how it works:

Proposed scenario:
A consumer purchases a six-pack of beer at a convenience store.
After exiting the store the consumer uses her TagZapper™ to disable the RFID tags.
At this point the consumer is able to transport and consume her purchase without being monitored by any commercial or government agency.
Which proves, once again, that you gotta fight for your right to party.

I'm not crazy about this example, because pro-RFID types can use it to conjure up specious but emotionally loaded images of teen drinking ("Wouldn't you want to know where your underage daughter is hiding out with that six-pack?").

Needless to say, the Rapture Ready crowd is up in arms over RFID, which they see as a precursor of the Mark of the Beast. TagZapper should be able to sell few million anti-RFID devices to the fundies alone. What's especially interesting to me is the tension that RFID is creating between the pro-business, pro-surveillance Bush Administration, and the perennially paranoid members of its base. Religious and libertarian anti-RFID activists have attacked Wal-Mart and other businesses for using the tags, and have complained that BushCo is actively promoting their use. It seems like a pretty powerful wedge issue for any Democrat who wants to take it on.

Link via Near Near Future.

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