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09/10/2003 Archived Entry: "Wolfe's Extreeeemly Tight Guideline"

Why is this clock so fascinating? I watched it for a full five minutes as tho' in a zen-like trance...

Kudos to Claire Wolfe for today's blog entry and my apologies to her for taking liberties with punctuation. Claire writes, *THERE'S ALREADY A WOLFE'S LAW, so I can't propose one. (And anyway, who needs more laws?) So call this WOLFE'S EXTREEEEMLY TIGHT GUIDELINE: The person with the least to say is the most likely to add you to his mailing list without asking. FIRST COROLLARY: The person who adds you to his mailing list without asking is the most likely to use open cc to expose you to spammers. SECOND COROLLARY: The person who uses open cc to expose you to spammers will invariably, when requested to use bcc, respond, "But I cannnnnn't use bcc if you don't tell me howwwwwwwww." THIRD COROLLARY: The person who adds you to his mailing list without asking is the only mailing-list operator who will invariably, when requested to remove you from his list, scream, "You're nothing but a big phoney who doesn't want to listen to what's really going on in the world!" FOURTH COROLLARY: N number of people will never Get a Clue, even if they live long enough to experience the heat-death of the universe.*

Mary Lou Seymour, who publishes Liberty Action of the Week, has again written eloquently about the threat to privacy posed by RFID (radio frequency identification device) technology, which was discussed in an earlier blog. To condense Mary Lou's current column, which spins off her July 22nd piece "Stop supermarket surveillance cards and RFID technology"... The ultimate goal of those behind RFID is to implant "spy chips" into consumer goods, from shaving cream to ammunition, in order to track and monitor individual consumer usage. As Mary Lou explains, "RFID employs a numbering scheme called EPC (for electronic product code), similar to the UPC bar code now used on products, but with one important difference. Instead of simply assigning a 'product code,' so that the store can track how many widgets it sells, the EPC assigns assigns a unique number to every single item that is manufactured; the number is then transmitted by a RFID tag in or on the product to receivers so that every product can be tracked from 'cradle to grave'." Products in your home can be monitored without your knowledge or consent. Claire Wolfe points out the impliations for gun rights when/if every bullet and all other firearm-related products can be traced by government -- and, of course, those who implant RFID will co-operate with government requests for records. Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) has a list of 103 companies that were listed as sponsors of the MIT Auto-ID Center as of June 25, 2003 including Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, and Best Buy, to name a few.The MIT Auto-ID Center plans to tag all manufactured goods with RFID chips and is preparing to "officially launch" what has been called the "Internet of Things" on September 16, 2003. In response to protests and public dismay, MIT will be holding a "RFID Privacy Workshop" Nov 15, to discuss the "political" ramifications of the RFID technology. To track the progress of this workshop, take a look at the MIT RFID Privacy blog. Mary Lou concludes, "I propose we do everything we can do to slow the progress of spy chip technology, to make the sponsors step back and regroup ... from writing the companies that plan to use the RFID technology and expressing our distaste,(CASPIAN has a "Contact Wal-Mart" link) to boycotting their products, to supporting legislation such as the "RFID Right to Know Act of 2003,"which would mandate labeling of RFID-enabled products so at least you'd know which products had the darn spy chips in them." I have grave doubts whether more legislation will solve anything but I applaud other efforts to block RFID. The technology is particularly frightening in light of an announcement from Hitachi who has "unveiled one of the world's tiniest RFID chips with an internal antenna. The Tokyo-based firm said its new 0.4 by 0.4 mm chip could be embedded in bank notes, gift certificates and other paper documents." This would allow governments to track every single dollar earned and spent by every individual -- total state monitoring and control of the economy down to the penny. Could it get more frightening you ask? It already has. According to ZNet, "The Malaysian government has bought the rights to tiny chips that can embed IDs into currency notes, bullets, passports and even inside human bodies." The government intends to test it as a human ID. Protest RFID now!

And while we're on the subject of fourletter acronyms beginning with R...let's give a good Bronx cheer to the RIAA. NewsMax published a nice satire on the RIAA's campaign to prosecute those who download peer-to-peer music on charges of copyright violation. NewsMax declared "In a hastily organized press conference this afternoon, the Recording Industry Association of America announced plans to issue 500,000 subpoenas to combat what it calls "the largest group of copyright infringers in the world": radio listeners. A spokesperson for the RIAA said that it could no longer overlook the sheer numbers of people who listen to music without paying for it." But it is becoming more difficult to satirize an organization that seriously prosecutes a 12-year-old girl for downloading music from a site to which her parents have subscribed? The little girl became the first of 261 music-lovers being prosecuted/persecuted by RIAA to settle their claim: her mother anted up $2,000 after her daughter "complained of stomach pains and emotional suffering as a result of the RIAA's actions." The victimization of children has not been lost on the politicians to whom RIAA is appealing for support. The Register reports: "During a Senate Judiciary Hearing Tuesday, the RIAA president Cary Sherman faced some tough questions. 'Are you headed to junior high schools to round up the usual suspects?' Sen. Dick Durbin asked, according to the AP." Perhaps sensing a PR disaster, RIAA is responding in two ways. 1) It claims to be targeting "uploaders" -- those who make music files available to others; and, 2) it has announced an amnesty program. Those criminals who turn themselves in to the power-mad, money-grubbing RIAA and who promise never to do it again will be forgiven. More specifically, "In exchange for wiping unauthorized song services and the tunes off the hard drive, and noting such in a notarized letter, the RIAA will agree not to file civil suits. But, if the person is discovered trading songs in the future, the association could come back with criminal charges, which carry even heftier fines." But the damage is done in terms of PR. The general sentiment is now "Screw the RIAA" -- the title of David A. Garrett, Jr.'s article in the Free Speech News.

Best to all,

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