What does a Texas school district have in common with Macy's new shoe department? Both use Radio Frequency Identification, aptly nicknamed "spychips." Texas embeds them in students' ID cards; Macy's inserts them in thousands of shoes. Whether pinpointing grade-schoolers' whereabouts or shoppers' spending habits, each chip has a unique ID number, giving corporations and government agencies new ways to monitor individuals' behavior.
In Spying on Democracy, Heidi Boghosian documents the disturbing increase in surveillance of ordinary citizens. Many Americans might not realize the extent to which our government actively acquires personal information from telecommunications companies and other corporations about individuals who engage in lawful and constitutionally protected activities. Spying reveals how technology is used to categorize and monitor people based on their activities, their associations, their movements, their purchases, and their perceived political beliefs. Corporations and government intelligence agencies mine data from sources as diverse as unmanned drones and video surveillance cameras, iris scans and medical records, all while accessing and combing websites, e-mail lists, phone records, and social media sites to create databases about "persons of interest." If the trend is permitted to continue, we will soon live in a society where nothing is confidential, no information is really secure, and our civil liberties are under constant surveillance and control.
Continue reading “Spying on Democracy: A Short History of Government/Corporate Collusion in the Cyber Age (City Lights Open Media)”