Bob's Links and Rants

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Announcing the Who's More Paranoid Than Me? Contest: Manufacturers are planning to put tiny radio-frequency ID tags (RFID) on every item they produce. These 96-bit tags are "somewhere between the size of a grain of sand and a speck of dust" and may cost less than 1 cent to produce. Like UPC's on steroids, these will differentiate between each different item on the shelf, not just every type of item. Everything you buy will be linked to you, assuming you use a credit card, a supermarket "bonus" card, or happen to be wearing or carrying anything that has already been linked to you. Anytime you walk near a scanner your identity and everything you are wearing or carrying will be identified. And scanners will be all over: stores, airports, highways, stadiums. I'm guessing that the only manufactured products that they're not planning on identifying are guns and bullets.

So anyway, the contest is for readers to come up with the scariest scenarios for how these things might be used. E-mail your suggestions to me at Probably every response will be posted, and the winner will have the joy of knowing that he or she didn't come in second.