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By Betty Freauf

April 7, 2004

"It was a bright cold day in April and the clock was striking thirteen," George Orwell said in his book: 1984. George Orwell, whose real name was George Blair, could foresee into the future. The only thing he got wrong was the timing.

I'm an electronic moron so lest I be accused of plagiarizing, I want to state up front much of what I'll be writing about in this article will be information from a carefully transcribed audio tape of a March 20, 2004 Coast to Coast AM radio broadcast with Art Bell and his guests, one being Jim Hanie, President of the American Radio Rely League (ARRL). Art and Jim are both serious Ham operators. The whole program can be accessed through archives.

This Broad Band Over Power Lines (BPL) technology has the potential of making George Orwell's prediction seem like nothing in comparison. Orwell portrayed a world in which the individual was helpless against the will of the superstate with "thought police" and surveillance cameras watching our every move making us believe we are safe and this is to make us happy.

In the early 90s media pundits were still cracking jokes about Orwell's predictions but today large computer systems have begun to represent the all-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother with mini-cameras the size of a pinhead and hundreds of databases entangled in a web of surveillance enveloping everything from bank accounts to e-mail.

The New York Times on March 1, 2004 reported our capital of Washington, D.C. has become a city of barricades, fences, surveillance cameras, and radiation detectors. The roofs of the office buildings have anti-aircraft missiles on them and soldiers armed to the teeth are everywhere. We seem to be a nation that is waiting for another astronomical attack.

And with this new BPL technology, even those who refuse computers and internet access will experience the invasion of privacy and a totalitarian Hell beyond even what George Orwell's fertile imagination could have ever imagined.

And now, imagine every single electrical outlet in your home or your business serving as a conduit to report every move you make to some corporation or government entity. Farmer Jones miles out of town may not have cable television or a phone because it isn't economically viable but there is a good chance he has electricity.

Our televisions already have a chip in them allowing the networks to know what we're watching, when we watch it and when we turn the set off. Imagine being able to eliminate your paper grocery list because your refrigerator with an appropriate chip could report your needed grocery items to some corporate headquarters and it could be delivered to your door. Ed Thomas from the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) talked about that recently in an interview. Could manufacturers be waiting in the wings to chip other appliances? And what about that chip in Farmer Jones' truck which records the speed which he is traveling, whether he has his seat belt on, his location, and other pertinent information that may be valuable in case of an accident. Will all our habits -- good and bad -- be monitored and cataloged?

Are you beginning to get the picture? Over the years such "safety" issues as seat belts being required and child safety seats have been gradually enacted subjecting us a little bit at a time to accept Big Brother thinking for us because we are no longer capable of being responsible or being able to think for ourselves. You've heard the story about the frog in the pan of cold water with the heat gradually being turned up?

What if you were told this BPL is not science fiction but that it is already being deployed in 30 cities on a trial experimental basis?

While a number of other countries, including the electronically astute Japanese, have already tried this and discarded the idea, this is unfolding across America and you probably have never heard about it. Other countries are Austria and the Netherlands, which said it is nightmare and they regret getting involved with it.

There are over 18,000 frequencies assignments by the federal government between two and 30 megahertz. But not only will someone be able to track our every movement and word, the downside is that the interference caused by BPL will affect cell phones, Ham operators, citizen's bands (C.Bs), small remote controlled airplanes that dads and boys fly for entertainment, some cordless telephones, and television channels from two through six will be in trouble.

Military communications and radar will be knocked off the air waves. Air plane pilots switch to high frequency a few miles out and they wouldn't be able to communicate. Ships at sea contact the mainline in cases of emergency through short wave radio.

It will virtually destroy the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) ability to communicate in emergencies and the ability of some medical service people to talk to teach other during emergencies. If we have another 9-11 attack, as we most surely will we are being told, or a major earthquake, fires or some other unexpected calamity, FEMA and other emergency services would not be able to respond.

The highway patrol and many rural police and fire departments still use frequencies down in the range that would be affected and they should be asking themselves do they have enough money in their treasuries at City Hall to scrap the current communications systems and buy something up in the 800 megahertz range which the BPL would not affect? Many small volunteer fire departments use 47 megahertz to communicate from City Hall to the fire trucks.

In other words, the entire short wave band will be affected. If giant sun flares knock out the satellite and if we are suddenly without that fragile infrastructure, the only communication is through Ham operators and the BPL would knock them off the air also.

BPL will be on our nation's power lines acting like giant antennas and not only transmitting but also receiving and because they aren't shielded like our TV cables, it will cause great interference with all short wave communications and it looks as though this proposal is being steam rolled through with little public input.

The agency behind this invasion of privacy is none other than the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and our nation's very largest power companies. Although the FCC is taking public comments they don't seem overly concerned about the dangers. Engineers at the FCC, who recognize how devastating BPL could be to our fragile communications, shake their heads. They seem to be overwhelmed by upper level management and other sources.

Could this be another Manhattan Project where everything is compartmentalized so the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing until the whole program falls into place but what would be the purpose of such deception? Is our federal government partnering with corporate America for profits? Is greed behind this scheme? Could this be another Y2K where millions were spent on computer software to prevent a total meltdown or was the software even needed in the first place? Is there someone planning to make big bucks on BPL? Do CEOs of big power companies have dollar signs for eyeballs? Will this amount to possible revenue to enhance their bottom lines for stockholders?

FEMA is on record as saying implementation of BPL under the present or relaxed emission restrictions would make HF radios unusable so we must ask, do the benefits outweigh the problems? And where is the National Association of Broadcasters on this crucial matter? Where is Homeland Security? Where is the FBI? When the bombs went off at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City emergency services had to revert to basics using point to point communications (like walkie talkies) and BPL will stop them from working.

Art Bell concluded the interview by stating the F.C.C. seems to be the cheerleaders right now and people should start by writing their congress people and their senators and say P-l-e-a-s-e review the BPL before we are blindsighted as happens so often to Americans.

One caller to the program said short-wave radio seems to be the last bastion of free, open and uncensored communications and a wireless, communication infrastructure does not rely on cell phone towers, repeaters or satellites. In addition, Ham radio operators save lives. Who knows, the life they save may be your own when we have our next crisis in America.

The ARRL is devoting a tremendous amount of its resources to educate and make sure Congressional people are fully aware of what is going on and I hope in some small way this article will help in that effort. Facts are sometimes easier to remember when they see them in print rather than hearing them on a radio program.

And now I'd like to end with some humor which arrived in an e-mail just before I sent this article into outer space.

You know you are in the year 2004 when:

1. You just tried to enter your password on the microwave.
2. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
3. You call your son's beeper to let him know it's time to eat. He e-mails you back from his bedroom, "What's for dinner?"
4. Your daughter sells Girl Scout Cookies via her Web site.
5. You chat several times a day with a stranger from South Africa but you haven't spoken with your next door neighbor yet this year.
6. You check the ingredients on a can of chicken noodle soup to see if it contains Echinacea.
7. Your grandmother asks you to send her a JPEG file of your newborn so she can create a screen saver.
8. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.
9. Every commercial on television has a Web site address at the bottom of the screen.
10. You buy a computer and six months later it is out of date and now sells for half the price you paid.
11. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 years of your life, is cause for panic and turning around to go get it.
12. Using real money, instead of credit or debit, to make a purchase would be a hassle and takes planning.
13. Cleaning up the dining room means getting the fast food bags out of the back seat of your car.
14. Your reason for not staying in touch with family is that they do not have e-mail addresses.
15. You consider second-day delivery painfully slow.
16. Your dining room table is now your flat filing cabinet.
17. Your idea of being organized is multiple-coloured Post-it notes.
18. You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.
19. You get an extra phone line so you can get phone calls.
20. You disconnect from the Internet and get this awful feeling as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one.
21. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

� 2004 Betty Freauf - All Rights Reserved

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Betty is a former Oregon Republican Party activist having served as state party secretary, county chairman, 5th congressional vice chairman and then elected chairman, and a precinct worker for many years. Betty is a researcher, freelance journalist and a regular contributor to  New E-Mail: [email protected]








"Our televisions already have a chip in them allowing the networks to know what we're watching, when we watch it and when we turn the set off."