SPANISH-SPEAKING COUNTRIES WARNED ABOUT RFID
By Liz McIntyre & Katherine Albrecht
A Spanish-language version of the award-winning book "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID" is being released today in Latin American countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, and Chile. The inital distribution will be to Christian bookstores, with general distribution to follow later this summer. The controversial work about the downsides of Radio Frequency Identification was originally published in English by American authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a controversial technology that uses tiny microchips to track everyday objects, animals, and even people from a distance. These RFID microchips have earned the nickname "spychips" because each contains a unique identification number, like a Social Security number for things, that can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves.
"It is very important that we get the word out to Latin America," says McIntyre. "The RFID industry has been targeting Hispanic people with this technology, believing they are not as informed about its dangers for privacy and civil liberties. We hope that making 'Spychips' broadly available in Spanish will sound the alarm."
McIntyre points to trials of the technology that have been taking place in Mexico as an example of how Latin Americans have been used as human guinea pigs by U.S. companies to test this new technology. One case in point is the Levi-Strauss company, maker of Levi's and Dockers brand clothing. The company started tagging garments in a franchise store near Mexico City last year and expanded its trials to two stores there earlier this year.
Latin America has also been eyed as a target for human-implantable RFID chips marketed by the VeriChip Corporation. In 2004, employees in the Mexican Attorney General's office were implanted to access secure areas, and recently there has been talk of chipping Latin Americans who wish to work in the United States.
President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia said he would consider chipping Colombian citizens who seek employment in the United States. Reportedly, the VeriChip Corporation has been in talks with Washington about how its chip could be used to register guest workers, verify their identities as they cross the border, and be used for enforcement purposes at the employer level.
"The problem with RFID is that it is tracking technology, plain and simple," Albrecht warns. "The industry is trying to downplay the dangers and create incentives to spread spychips around the world. Once Spanish-speakers read our book and realize big companies and governments want to use this technology to track them in public places and control their movements, we believe they will say 'no' to RFID."
Albrecht adds that she expects many Hispanics will connect implantable RFID technology to biblical prophesies that warn against marking and numbering human beings. "Many people in Latin America are devout Christians who will see this as much more than a privacy and civil liberties concern."
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Liz McIntyre is a consumer privacy expert and author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID. In this explosive book, McIntyre and co-author Katherine Albrecht reveal how organizations like Procter & Gamble, Gillette, Wal-Mart, and even the U.S. Postal Service plan to use tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to track everyday objects-and even people-keeping tabs on everything you own and everywhere you go.
Katherine Albrecht is a privacy advocate and co-author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID. Albrecht has testified on RFID technology before the Federal Trade Commission, the California state legislature, the European Commission, and the Federal Reserve Bank, and she has given over a thousand television, radio and print interviews to news outlets all over the world. Her efforts have been featured on CNN, NPR, the CBS Evening News, Business Week, and the London Times, to name just a few.
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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a controversial technology that uses tiny microchips to track everyday objects, animals, and even people from a distance.