Group Blog For 1pm class
Friday, April 23, 2004
  RFID--Pictures and Interesting Articles This is an article from Prison Planet.com that shows RFID tags in the new $20 bills. From the authors "What we resent is the fact that the government or a corporation can track our 'cash'. Credit purchases and check purchases have been tracked for years, but cash was not traceble until now..."

Here is a post by John Chamberlain in his online diary that claims the above article is a hoax. He then goes to discuss a hypothetical story of a pick-pocketer with a portable RFID tag reader who finds the "fattest" wallets to steal.

Here is a definition of RFID tags and I've copied the following from that defintion
"RFID systems can be used just about anywhere, from clothing tags to missiles to pet tags to food -- anywhere that a unique identification system is needed. The tag can carry information as simple as a pet owners name and address or the cleaning instruction on a sweater to as complex as instructions on how to assemble a car. Some auto manufacturers use RFID systems to move cars through an assembly line. At each successive stage of production, the RFID tag tells the computers what the next step of automated assembly is."

Here is a picture of an RFID tag.

Jonathan Jones
Sorry if this post seems disjointed. It's purpose is to centralize several links to use for the group presentation. 
Thursday, April 22, 2004
  Rich - Home Security Cameras Going back to the theme of security cameras, lets turn our attention to the following site:

Home Security Cameras

This site sells all the furnishings of home survailance. There are cameras for every sort of condition, wavelength, and purpose. These cameras are made to give the individual citizen the same ability to survey an area from a distance. This is a very powerful ability, because it places the individual in equal control of security with organizations. This may not seem like much, but a security camera represents the ability to recieve raw, uncut information live any time. It has been stated that information is the most powerful thing in the world.
  Grant- Final Wrap-up These technologies test the boundaries of our rights as citizens. It is also important to remember that even though new technologies can be beneficial, in the wrong hands, they could also be detrimental. Also one has to view it from a distanced stance, new technologies in the 40’s and 50’s scared people, but they are fairly well excepted today. When Sputnik, the first satellite, was launched into space, people began to fear this new and relatively unknown technology. Today the idea of a satellite in space is main stream and more than likely won’t spark a sentiment of fear and anxiety. When we walk into a store that has a monitor showing you, people usually don’t think differently except maybe make a mental note that if they misbehave, someone could watch them. Some people believe these technologies are often abused, mainly by the government. The saying “Big Brother is watching you” has come from a fear of tracking technology. Some people fear the government’s power to follow and learn about individuals, and these people sometimes try to isolate themselves as much as possible. Although I recognize its ability to use such technologies to do such things, I also believe that such bureaucratic governments aren’t efficient enough to watch most people of the general public. There are rumors about computers that monitoring all phone calls and Internet transactions, but this only plays into some people’s fantasies. Could this all be true and you have reason to fear, possibly; but for the most part, I don’t think it should be a problem.  
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
  Rich - Helpful Highway Cameras Searching the web, I found a page from the United Kingdom's Department of Transportation about roadside security cameras. They back the use of security cameras on roadsides with real hard numbers. Statistics show, as the site says, that:

deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 35% on roads where speed cameras operate.

the number of vehicles speeding at camera sites dropped by 67%

average speed at all camera sites fell by 10%

These numbers show real, measurable success of the cameras in preventing excessive speeding and wreckless driving. The real interrest in this report, however is how the cameras are strongly refferenced as a deterent, rather than a means of conviction. This supports the theory that I previously posted that the point of security cameras is to establish a panopticon. This evidences more clearly than any example that security cameras can and do work as a panopticon for social control. This is indeed dangerous, but when used properly (like in this case) it can also be a lifesaver- literally.

UK Department of Transportation 
Sunday, April 18, 2004
  Grant- How GPS works We’ve been talking about GPS technology, but we never actually explained what it is or how it works. GPS stands for global positioning system. It originated with the US military developing a navigation system, but it’s now open to the public. There are 27 three to four thousand pound earth-orbiting satellites. They orbit the earth twice a day and there are at least 4 in the visible sky from any point on earth at any time. On each of these satellites there is a very accurate and expensive atomic clock that can keep time to the nanosecond. The clocks’ time is broadcast to earth and to the GPS receivers. The receivers get this data from at least 4 satellites so using it’s own clock, it can tell relative distances from each of the satellites. Each receiver also has the data of the paths of the satellites so at any given time, it knows where they should be. Knowing the satellites position and it’s own distance from each one, it can pinpoint exactly where it is. This is the data that the GPS provides to the user. So the basic parts of the receiver are a clock, a memory bank, an antennae, and a calculator. As far as cost is concerned, it does not have to be too expensive. The less accurate the clock, the less accurate the receiver, but most people don’t need to know within a few feet of where they are, so it’s not a big problem. When talking about smaller and smaller receivers though, the main limitations are the antenna because they have to receive signals from space. Some errors arise when communicating because, the atmosphere can play a part in slowing down the signals and therefore altering the data, plus the waves can bounce off objects there fore increasing the overall travel distance and altering the data. However it is fairly reliable and is updateable from the ground.
Article 1 
  oh, and i also posted the response to grant's article too. i'm terrible about signing my name, sorry.
-john catoe  
  hey, i'm the one that just posted that response.
-john catoe 
  Response: RFID tags This is a response to Jonathan's article on RFID tags.

Just like the magazine cover stunt I wrote about earlier, how long will it take for the knowledge carried by these RFID tags to fall into civilian hands where any joe-smoe can use it to find anyone, and anyone's habits, past, location, etc, they want?

Yeah, the idea of using it for lost luggage makes sense. But when it comes to using it to monitor vehicles, how long will it take for police agencies to take advantage of this and to unknownly issue a ticket for someone who's sped or violated some other unknown law?

The whole idea of these RFID tags in clothing, or under a person's skin, is creepy. Will the government or some agency step in a put a stop to the proliferation of these technologies or will it get out of control?

  Response: Tracking Car Technologies In response to Grant's writeup, I saw a special on 20-20 or Dateline, one of those shows-- they're are the same, about a couple who rented a car and drove it across state lines and were charged, I think, two thousand dollars more than the balance of the rental because they violated the terms of the rental contract. The car rental company used these tracking technologies to track and confirm the fact that they went out of state. This poor eldery couple had no idea. They stayed within the limited of the mileage for their budget, and what made matters worse was that this car rental company was located very close to another state border. Such heavy charges for these infractions is asinine, not to method the methods which the rental car companies use to confirm these violations. Another case of the Man robber the poor and eldery and feeding the rich.  
  Creepy Creepy and oh yeah, Creepy I've got two links to this creepy article, one this here and it's a tid-bit from Slashdot and the other is here and it's an abstract from the NY Times article, you can buy it for a bargain low 3 dollars. And here's a link to Reason magazine just for the hell of it.

The crux of the article is this: on the cover of June's Reason magazine will be a satellite photo of the subscriber's house with advertisements that suit the subscriber's buying patterns also on the cover. Each cover will be personalized for the magazine's 40,000 subscribers.

I can only imagine my reaction if I was walking out to my mailbox one day and discovered that my magazine had a satellite photo of my domicile along with ads for stuff I like-- buy Nutella, the new Neal Stephenson novel comes out in July order now, buy the new Radiohead CD!

I know that the military has had the technology for this for a long time, and I know that they can do crazy stuff with surveillance and stuff-- that doesn't bother me so much. But now a team of civilians can gather such specific information about any given person is disturbing. Can a pedophile gather all this information about his next elementary school child victim? Can a serial killer gather all this information about his next plotted kill? Why allow every citizen to wield such power? 
  Hey, in case anyone didn't know, I did the mapquest.com blog.
-John Catoe 
  RFID Tags in Airports Here is an article, from a Slashdot post that's about RFID Tags being used to track luggage in airports. This acutally sounds like a good solution to the luggage problems in airports.

Jonathan Jones 
Friday, April 16, 2004
  Rich - Panopticons In order to better explain my points about security cameras, I'd like to cover the concept of a panopticon (I may have mentioned this a few posts ago). The concept of a panopticon originated with Jeremy Bentham as a design for control of a building (ie a prison, or factory). His original design looked like this. The concept is based in very complex theories on power relations. In short, the idea is that all power derrives from a difference in information.

Take for instance this original design. The prison guard in the center has the ability to see where all the prisoners are at all times. The prisoners, however, have no way to know whether or not the guard is looking at them. This gives the guard an enormous amount of power, because as far as the prisoners are concerned, they are always under watch. They lack the necesary information to make judgements as to when they are safe from the guards eyes.

This is the power I believe security cameras hold. The owner of the security camera automatically has an information advantage over the person(s) on camera. 
  Response: Camera's at Kroger A real-life example, in response to Rich's thoughts on cameras. I was at the Kroger on Howell Mill road a couple of months ago. I had a question about the price of an item that wasn't marked. I asked someone for help and they got the manager for me. The manager came down from the office and I thanked him for taking time out of his busy day to help me with the price of an item. He then said that it was no problem because he wasn't doing anything anyway, in fact, he was using the kroger security cameras to track a "hot girl" through the store. Presumably, this is not an isolated case. With the increasing number of cameras in an increasing number of places, the potential for abuse is there and the manger at Kroger certainly abused his privilege. If this is not getting "too carried away," I don't know what is.

Jonathan Jones 
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
  RFID Tags, A new wave of tracking RFID tags are the new wave of the future in tracking technology. Click HERE for the definition of RFID. An article on MSNBC outlines some current and potential uses of RFID tags.HERE. In short RFID tags are very small pieces of silicon that can be implanted in just about anything. The biggest potential application is in the retail section. The consumer giant Wal-mart is leading the way and is going to use RFID tags to keep track of the inventory (Link to Slashdot article.) Eventually, there will be RFID readers on all the shelves and can automatically tell when a product is getting low and needs to be reordered, or if an item is stocked incorrectly. On the surface, this is all fine and dandy, who doesn't want Wal-mart or any other store to be able to keep track of their merchandise. However, the tracking implications are extremely great. What if your shirt has an RFID tag in it. Every time you go by a RFID reader, it could know who you were, where you bought the shirt and maybe even more information about you. That's not to say that it will happen though, supposedly after purchasing your clothing, you should have the option of having the RFID tags "killed", yeah right.

Another post on Slashdot discusses a proposed RFID tag system for cars that would reduce road fatalities (Direct link to article. The article outlines how your car would have a RFID tag system that would allow a "reader" to broadcast information at you whenever you drove by the "reader". Some such information would be traffic conditions ahead, possible dangerous weather conditions, and if you're driving too fast for an upcoming situation. The implications of this system are enormous. Whoever is incharge of the system, presumably the government, could do lots of things with the information accumulated from the system. They can track where you go in your car, how fast you go, and things like that. An obvious possible consequence of this is traffic enforcement, particularly speeding. If your car is caught going too fast above the speed limit when you travel by one of these sensors, the government could send you a nice little speeding ticket in the mail, like the autonomous license plate cameras at some intersections.

RFID technology used in the right way could have positive benifits such as a more complete knowledge of a stores inventory, and saving lives on the highway. However, they could just as easily track us and take away our freedoms.

Jonathan Jones 
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
  Grant- People Trackers Ever wonder if someone was watching your every move? Did that ever freak you out? Now imagine that you know that at any time, someone could know where you are and maybe even how you feel? If your heart was racing, your blood pressure went up, or body temperature drops, your parents or maybe the government could know. One company, Bell mobility, has products that can monitor the location of a child for up to 100 meters. There are chips out now that can be implanted in the body and when a reader passes nearby, data can be sent. This could be used as identification or a code to access a person’s bio on a mainframe computer system. These chips can also be used to monitor vitals and when combined with a pager sized GPS and transmitter, it can broadcast the location and physical state of an individual. If we could one day have tiny chips implanted in people to track their whereabouts, who would use this and for what. Professor Kevin Warwick in England had a chip implanted and sensors in his work so he can be tracked while in the building. Would parents have their children implanted so they can track them? Until what age might they stay in? Should ex-convicts and/or sex offenders be required to have them implanted? Also there is a problem of who can monitor these people. If the authorities track the convicts and only parents can track their children, what happens if there is a security breach? Also do store owners and property owners have the right to put up sensors on their property to see who walks by? This technology may cause more problems for it’s potential benefits so may never be used because of these infractions on our rights.
Article 1
Article 2 
  Rich - Corporate Media Monopoly In response to Grant's post about MapQuest, I have a few comments to make about the subject of media buyouts. AOL-Time-Warner, along with 2 other companies (Viacom and Turner) control nearly all communications interrests in the United States. This is beneficial in some manners, in that it allows for much easier production of multimedia (by multimedia I refer to the books made for movies, movies made for books, video games made for TV shows etc.). However, there are nearly infinite MAJOR problems with this degree of media control.

Probably the most troubling problem is that these media companies control much of the news we recieve. Since nearly all of the news channels and shows are run by these same companies, there is no garuntee of unbiased news. If one of the major networks chooses not to run a news article, that event may not even show on news channels in some areas. Another major problem is that of monopoly. With only 3 companies controlling the media, it presents a very strong monopoly in some areas (isnt the fed supposed to prevent this kind of thing?). This allows the media companies to maintain ridiculous prices. Notice that the price of cable TV has not come down at all in the last 30 years. Does it make sense that this technology has not gotten cheaper with age? The reason is quite clearly the monopoly of the media companies, as well as the service monopolies of many of the cable companies.

Sadly, there's not a whole lot we the citizens can do about these large monopolies, short of telling your local congressman to fight media mergers. 
Members: Grant F., Jonathan J., clancy, John C., Richard

03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 /

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