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technology and submission

Technology & submission

Those readers who are not familiar with RFID are encouraged to check out these and this article to get an idea of why this controversial technology is important for us.

Radio Frequency Identification presents us with two menacing advances.

First, it is a stealth technology; invisible, inaudible, neutral to our touch, without any telltale odour and very tasteless. With such a chip in your staff card you would be left to wonder whether there is only an occasional random spot check of your movements, or whether the Insecurity Directorate has decided that you deserve its full attention. But they would know, and also know that you don't know. Civil servants should be treated better than convicted felons serving big time in high security prisons.

Second, RFID is a technology that enables automated surveillance. Images recorded on CCTV, for an example; need to be processed from raw data into "useful" information by human beings. In the brave new world of Radio Frequency Identification the data passes from the chip to the scanner and on into a database without anyone touching a keyboard or clicking a mouse. So saying that RFID is just more of the same is like saying that a modern machine gun which fires 60+ rounds per second is like a musket that fires one round per 60+ seconds, and that pacifists should stop being such cry babies.

One colleague recently brought up the issue of trust between workers and bosses.

A first objection is that trust must be mutual, otherwise it is submission. The fact that it is the bosses who are quietly pushing for more surveillance shows that is an asymmetric relation, at least for now. (If SID had not been getting on people's nerves with its attacks on Big Brother technologies, we might well have received our chips without any public debate at all.) There is a thin, but detectable streak of masochism in workers who accept that the bosses, who make decisions behind closed doors, should be allowed monitor us.

In a few very advanced cases, masochists have stood in line and paid out of their own pockets to have chips implanted under their skin, as though they were cats or dogs. Nothing really new; some ladies earn a comfortable living by fitting maso-boys with dog collars and leading them around on a leash.

A second objection is that there is a nice long list of recent cases in which the bosses of the EU Civil Service made statements which soon proved to be false. Such lapses made international news in 1999 with Madam Cresson's favourite dentist, again in 2003 with the "vast enterprise for looting" that OLAF discovered at ESTAT. We have archived some of the "information" that the bosses published before the 2004 Kinnock Reform; it is an excellent exercise in creative writing. Won't someone nominate them for Nobel Prize in Literature, or the Booker Prize, at least?

SID is not generalizing this into saying that our bosses are a bunch of congenital liars. No. SID listens to them, it reads what they write. Then it checks other, independent sources to get a fuller, clearer picture of what is really going on.

That is not paranoia, just common sense.

Michael Ashbrook
Secretary General of SID

Created by: admin last modification: Friday 12 of September, 2008 [12:49:19 UTC] by admin

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