The NARC in Your Sneakers

From Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools:

Spy Chips

Be(a)ware of how your belongings could track you

spychips-sm.jpg

This book will make you look at every store-bought item you own or debate owning with a curious skepticism that -- after reading the book -- won't seem too unwarranted. It was published two years ago (a cheap paperback came out in the fall), but if you've yet to explore the fascinating, potentially paranoia-inducing, world of RFID and you want the cautionary, consumer-advocate perspective about the Radio Frequency Identification tracking being proposed -- and used! -- by certain companies (for instance, Gillette, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart), I highly recommend this one. I've been meaning to read it for a while and so some of the stories were familiar (i.e. the nightclub in Spain that chips its members), but there were plenty of bits that were new and interesting to me (i.e. all the patents IBM has applied for, including one for an RFID-enabled closet). Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre take a pretty sensationalist tone -- "Big Brother" is mentioned a number of times -- but the scope of the research is impressive (lots of endnotes) and their insight into how this tech could be abused is thought provoking.

-- Steven Leckart

Spy Chips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move
Katherine Albrecht & Liz McIntyre
2006 (paperback), 304 pages
$11
Available from Amazon