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I received a comment from a german mediastudent who is as concerned with privacy as perhaps many more of us should be, and told me about his reaction to his new RFID tagged passport he got for his coming trip to Mexico. He raised questions about the safety of this technology, and told me how he went about it to ensure that his data was safe. He found a company that sells aluminium covers especially made for passports to protect your data from unathorized access; as reported from this german newsfeed.
He also posts a scary reference to what he feels is: “a society which dictators would dream of”, in his hands..
See his blog here > (in german).
Although I`ve talked to older adults today regarding privacy issues, it seems that most of the people actively concerned with privacy issues today are younger people; it is more common among today`s elderly to accept to a greater extent the regulations and restrictions laid down by the government, but will the boomer generation feel the same?
Based on what I`ve heard and read, I would say they are as concerned about their privacy as younger people are; they are, after all, the ones who have tought us about the freedoms we enjoy today.
(This is a small article about the law giving you insight into your files in the Norwegian Police Sikkerhetstjenste that`s been recorded from the 1970`s until today. It was recently revoked. The norwegians who has been under surveillance include protesters from the leftwing movement in the early 70`s. )
Most of my concepts now represent a critical, and perhaps a bit pessimistic, view of the future involving RFID, Wireless technology and the other side of all the useful applications they will bring; our being subjects to technology and the apparent possibility to use it for more and more surveillance of our lives. This approach represents my scepticism and my honest opinion that we need to seriously ask some critical questions to the development of this technology. Perhaps it`s naive; there are too many forces at work to ensure the implementation of RFID in as many applications and services as possible to stop it, and that is not my goal or desire either. But I do think that we need to stay very alert when designing for these types of technology, and the way in which we implement them, and with regard to my own project; when I explain the concept to today`s adults and elders, they mostly respond in the same way as I do; with great scepticism.
That is why I now try and create some critical concepts as well as “supporting” concepts, because they reflect this natural scepticism. “We are used to a certain degree of freedom, and we want to keep it that way. We certainly don`t want any less.” Scenarios like that of Wal-Mart, where you will be identified at the entrance and tracked throughout the shopping mall may seem like a small thing to some, but if this becomes the standard everyday life for us, it will surely become unbearable pretty soon.
The privilige and freedom to be “invisible” from the all-seeing eye of the network of sensors, readers and cameras will be harder and harder to obtain, perhaps only obtainable for the wealthy and priviliged, whereas those of us who need to stay connected for whatever economic or social reasons will have to subcome to being visible.
I`ve made some simple icons to illustrate the feeling of a surrender to, and struggle against, the surveillance that RFID can bring.