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A brave new world...

When it comes to politics, I have two voices inside me - my inner Commie and my inner Libertarian. They fight things out continuously and quite frequently disagree, thus on some issues I will waffle back and forth a fair bit depending on which voice currently has my ear, however on most things they come to peaceful settlement after a time.

And then there are times when both voices scream in unison so loudly that I have to react in some way, and commonly that means it's time to write something down or call Flash or Briguy.

A week ago I wrote about what I thought was an absolutely retarded idea being contemplated by the US Senate (I know, it's unheard of!) - injecting RFIDs into "guest workers" so they could easily keep track of their possessions employees and make sure they weren't off getting health care or a fair wage. In a comment to that article, Dan indicated that RFIDs are of great interest to the business sector as well as fascists, and this got me thinking about little antennas and transistors.

In today's Globe & Mail there is an article about just how useful and lovely these little RFIDs are for keeping track of documents and poker chips and whatnot. That "whatnot" got me thinking, documents and poker chips being of no interest to me, and it perked up the ears of both my inner Libertarian, who doesn't like giving up information without being asked for it, and my inner Commie, who knows that when business-types get this excited about something it is not going to be cheaper or good for me, no matter what they say. They agreed that it is probably okay for a company to sell me something with a RFID that prevents me from walking out without paying (if that's what they feel they need to do), but that is where it should end; when I walk out the door.

Naturally, my inner Libertarian asks "what guarantees are there that this is going to end when I walk out the door?" (A paranoic, is he.) As it turns out, there is absolutely nothing either legal or technical, that prevents these things from being activated at any time, provided the antenna is functional and still connected to the little chip.

Just think of the uses! In addition to putting them on items, you could put them into a card, say a debit or "loyalty" card, which could be scanned as you walk about the store and perhaps the sales clerk could fire up their little database and see if you're worth serving. Or maybe they could quickly look up a history of your past purchases and they could "spontaneously" suggest an item or upgrade that you might be interested in and voila, you are out a few more bucks.

A brave new world it is, indeed my friend.

So how do you get rid of, or disable these things? The first step is finding the little bugger, which might not always be easy because they can be shimmed in between sheets of paper, or even built into the soles of shoes. If it is accessible, these guys (who have a whole lot of information on the subject) suggest the best thing to do is to cut the connection between the transmitter and the antenna or microwaving it. Since they are usually mounted on a paper backing however, microwaving might be a good way to start a fire, so this should be the last resort. I wonder if it could be nuked in water? It is unfortunately not possible to kill them by hitting them with a magnet.

We can rest a little easier owing to the fact that if there is one thing we can rely on it is that there will be people out there that love nothing more than figuring out how to bust stuff. Here at Global Guerrillas, you will find an interesting discussion on how to create a portable HERF (high energy radio frequency) unit out of a cheap camera that can be used to blast these things.

A localized EMP in your hand - how cool is that? Just have to keep it away from the laptop and the pacemaker and we'll be fine.

If hitting them with a magnet won't work how about hitting them with a hammer?It's low-tech yes but some times the old ways are the best.

That's a great idea...Especially if you tell gullible people that the Guv'mint has put trackers in their foreheads...Hours of fun, and you get out lots of frustration!

The hammer is a good idea if you've managed to get them out of the thing they are in. If they are in a shoe insole, this might not be too easy.

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