Get Out Your Tinfoil Hats… Erm, Wallets…

I love conspiracy theories.  Some of them I’ll ascribe some grains of truth to, and some are just fun to read (see David Icke’s reptilian theory).  I figure that just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get me.  One particular item that seemed like a crazy conspiracy theory several years ago is now popping up as a reality: the RFID chip.

RFID stands for radio frequency identification chip.  RFIDs skyrocketed to infamy when various folks out there claimed that RFIDs were/are going to be implanted into people to track their movements, buying habits, etc.  Well, the FDA has approved RFIDs for personal implantation, but I don’t think the trend has caught on yet.  That said, I also don’t believe that it’s totally out of the realm of possibility for someone to suggest that they be used in this manner at some point in the future.

RFIDs are little bitty chips that can be scanned and read from (as of 2005) as far away as about 65-70 feet.  Most of them don’t have their own power supply; they “come to life” when the scanner activates them.  They can be programmed with information like serial numbers, barcodes, or identification for individuals.

As it stands today, RFIDs are used in things like passports (mine is old and doesn’t have one, but my husband’s UK passport does), credit cards (Chase bank uses them), drivers’  licenses, clothes, and other items.  Wait, clothes?! you say, bewildered.  You betcha!  Wal-Mart began a policy starting last year that they chip all of their clothes in all of their stores to prevent shoplifting.  American Apparel apparently does the same thing with their tiny T-shirts.  Europe has been doing it for some time, but the RFIDs are removed upon checkout and reused, which seems sensible enough to me.  Wal-Mart RFIDs are not removed upon purchase.  It seems it would be your job to remove the RFID, assuming you even know it’s there at all.

Many people are becoming increasingly uneasy about RFIDs.  While the technology certainly saves a few seconds and makes things more convenient, people are wondering if the benefits outweigh the risk of identity theft.  If most Wal-Mart items are embedded with RFID chips, someone with a scanner – they aren’t that hard to make, apparently – could theoretically go through your trash and know what you’ve been purchasing.  For items such as IDs and credit cards, the risk is more upfront: someone with a chip reader could access your information and use it do any number of sundry and decidedly inconvenient things.

With passports, drivers’ licenses, and things like the Florida Sun Pass (Florida tollway card), how easy will it be for someone to steal our information?  Do we really want the government or whatever subcontractor they’ve hired to do the job nosing through all of our information?  They say that for states on borders, such as California, where many people cross the border for work and/or pleasure with some degree of frequency, it will make things easier. But again, is it worth the risk for this convenience?  Also, theoretically, RFID chips in passports and such could be activated from just about anywhere. The government could potentially track you at any time.  Is this really what we want?

Of course, in response to the concerns about identity theft, at least one company has popped up that makes RFID scan-proof wallets and passport holders.  They aren’t super-pricy, although I would make no claims about whether or not they work.  Of course, you can also just make your own from aluminum and duct tape.  (I had a duct tape wallet in high school.  It was classy.)   Aluminum?! you cry.  Do I have to be a card-carrying tinfoil-hat-wearer now, Lady?  Well, no.  You could shell out $30-$40 and get the classy leather wallet.  But the aluminum – or copper or any other metal – has the effect of creating a mini Farraday cage.  In other words, it keeps unwanted signals from activating the RFID and reaching your precious information.  And I’m not saying “precious” lightly – anyone who has ever had to deal with identity theft knows what a royal and costly pain in the posterior it can be!

I am in Asia, and I can say now with certainty that RFIDs are being used here.  How do I know?  I found one in my school classroom that had fallen off or been ripped off of a piece of clothing that one of my kids was wearing.  I happened to see that it had “RFID” printed in bold letters on the side.  I snatched it up, brought it home, and took a picture so that all of you readers can see what they look like when they come attached to a clothing label.  They are incredibly tiny, and if you weren’t looking for it, you’d likely never realize it was there.

So what’s my point in writing this article?  Information.  I don’t want to scare anybody.  I’m not insinuating that the government wants to chip everyone, although I also don’t rule that out as a possibility later on down the line.  They are beginning to appear in everyday items, and they do carry a risk factor when used in conjunction with personal ID.  I think everyone should be aware of them, and I think that you should be able to make the decision whether or not you want to frequent a merchant who chips their clothing.  I also think you should be armed with the knowledge of possible risks, especially when traveling in busy airports with unknowns all around you or shopping in giant stores, where you never know who is looking for their next naive target.  As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Here is our little RFID friend (or foe):

This is an RFID chip I found in my school. I assume it came from a clothing item.

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Ron Paul on Jay Leno – Friday, December 17th

Here is the Ron Paul interview on Jay Leno.  I thought it was a very good interview, actually.  Paul gets a good floor to talk about his positions.  This is better than the debates, if you’re interested in hearing more about Dr. Paul.  One thing’s for sure: the crowd loved him!  Very encouraging!

 

Ron Paul Debate Highlights 12/15

For those of you who aren’t devoted “Paulistinians,” sorry – this is another post about the good doctor.  These are the debate highlights from last night’s Iowa Republican debate.  I will readily admit that public speaking is not Ron Paul’s strength, but what he lacks in smooth transitions, he more than makes up for in decent talking points.  They really went after him about Iran, but I think he speaks excellently about war and peace.  Also, if you can’t stand Michele Bachmann – and I am among those who can’t – Ron Paul essentially hands her posterior back to her when she starts in about taking an aggressive stance with Iran.

I thought he did rather well, and he certainly came across as being more assertive than he has in the past, which is a good thing.  It bugs that me that Bachmann gets so much applause for wanting to attack Iran, but I have to remind myself that this is technically a Republican (read: hawk) debate, not a libertarian one.  I have to confess, I generally forget about the other candidates.  I try to block out the mainline Republicans as much as possible, because I think they’re about as useful as tits on a bull.

Even if you aren’t a big Paul supporter, I recommend viewing the video, particularly if the issue of peace is near to your heart.  Ron Paul is the only guy up there talking about bringing our troops home permanently, and that is music to my ears.

Sen. Paul and Judge Napolitano Weigh in on S. 1867 (Nov. 30)

Unfortunately, this video is now a few days out of date, and as we now know, the bill has passed with only seven senators dissenting, including Senator Paul.  Judge Napolitano is one of the only MSM pundits that I can routinely stomach, and it’s nice that he gives a voice to notable libertarians like Senator Paul and his father, Ron Paul, Jeffrey Tucker of the Mises Institute, and other freedom fighters.  Give a listen.  There is no reason why we should be denying anyone – regardless of how guilty they may be in the eyes of the government or the court of popular opinion – the right to due process.

Freedom Watch: Have the Terrorists Won?

The American People Have Been Thrown Under the Bus

According to alternative news sources – because I haven’t seen this on any major news corporations, so far – the Senate has passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act.  You know, the one I wrote about earlier this week that allows the president to order Americans to be arrested anywhere in the world and held without justification or due process?  The one that kills that Bill of Rights and makes the president into a dictator?  Oh, yeah, that one.  IT PASSED THE SENATE BY A MAJORITY OF 93-7.  An amendment to block the measures from being used against Americans was voted down.  Do you know what that means?  Ninety-three of our senators either don’t understand how damaging this is to the Bill of Rights or don’t give a damn.  And that is downright terrifying.

This bill gives the president dictatorial powers.  America is no longer a free republic.  We are heading headlong down the path to subservience to a government gone completely mad with power.  I, for one, refuse to sit around and watch this happen.  I want nothing more than to come home from overseas, but I refuse to live in a country where my rights are being abridged daily by the police state.

Thomas Jefferson once said that the tree of liberty occasionally needs watering with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  My friends, I think the time has arrived!

“Senate Passes Controversial Defense Bill” – The New American
“Battlefield US: Americans face arrest as war criminals under army state law” – RT
“US Senate has just passed bill that effectively ends the Bill of Rights in America” – Salem-News

Update: 

These folks are the only seven dissenting Senators.  Think I might call them the Magnificent Seven!  The vote record number is 218, and you may find the information on Senate.gov.  The corresponding house bill is HR 1540.  Keep your eyes open, folks!  They’re going to pass this right under our noses, if they can!

Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Lee (R-UT)
Merkley (D-OR)
Paul (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Rubio (R-FL)
Wyden (D-OR)

Kill This Bill: S. 1867

The Senate has cooked up yet another harebrained bill that is going to cost Americans more of the precious little liberty we have left.  S. 1867, or the National Defense Authorization Act, includes two clauses, 1031 and 1032, which effectively extend the battlefield of the “war on terror” to the homeland.  Section 1031 allows for American citizens to be detained and arrested by the military, sent to prisons on foreign soil, and held indefinitely without due process.  Habeas corpus, anyone?

This bill, drafted by John McCain (gag) and Carl Levin, effectively gives the president powers to target anyone, foreign or American, for immediate arrest and imprisonment at the hands of the US military.  This may be done in the USA or abroad.  That person may then be sent to a detention center, foreign or domestic, and held there without due process and without being informed of the reasons for his or her captivity.  This is nothing less than dictatorial power.  It is unconstitutional and cannot be justified for any reason.

There is a reason that our Constitution guarantees our rights.  Everyone, regardless of how guilty he or she may appear, is entitled the benefit of the doubt.  Innocent until proven guilty.  Otherwise, the police and government would be able to engage in witch hunts, wherein anyone could be a target for any reason.  This would effectively sow the seeds for a police state.

For those people who think, “That’s not me.  What would the government ever want with me?” the answer is that they can change their minds about that every day, and everyone is suspect.  It’s a very slippery slope upon which to tread.  The Department of Homeland Security lists the following actions as potentially suspicious and/or linked to terrorist activity: buying gold; paying for items with cash; owning guns; giving to charity, and; using a watch or binoculars.  I honestly think that describes half of the Midwest.

Several senators have come out against this bill, including Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Rand Paul (R-KY).  Senator Paul drafted legislation to eliminate sections 1031 and 1032, but it was voted down 70-30.  The bill itself has not yet come to vote, although President Obama has promised to veto it, should it arrive on his desk.  I generally doubt everything that Obama says, but if he does keep his word on this one, I will think substantially more of him than I did previously.

In any case, I encourage everyone to contact their senators immediately.  Here is a link for you to find your Senate representatives.  Let them know what you think.  Let them know that you’re pissed and you vote.  Please take the time to do this.  It is incredibly important.

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