One of life’s guilty pleasures is watching reruns of the various iterations of “Law & Order.” Actually, it’s difficult to avoid watching them, given the profusion of versions that have dominated series-TV for lo these many years.
I particularly enjoy seeing unexpected casting decisions. For example, standup comic/TV host/voiceover-artist Bob Saget playing a techno-nerd who poisons the wife of the man who is having an affair with his wife. His character was so obsessed with tracking his wife’s whereabouts he secretly embedded a tiny RFID in her shoulder.
That came to mind when I read that European citizens will be getting a chance to shape policy on the use of RFIDs, sometimes called “smart tags.”
RFIDs, which stands for radio frequency identification, are tiny sensors that store data about whatever they’re attached to by linking a piece of computer memory with a radio transmitter. Saget’s character used the device to track his wife’s travels. More commonly, they’re used to track and inventory merchandise, although their use is increasingly found in keeping track of pets.
The European Commission is setting up a group made up of a large cross-section of the population of member nations to discuss how the tags should be used. Some people think they’ll be a common, benign tool in business before long. Others think they may not be confined to “Law & Order” episodes, instead being used secretively by governments to track people.
Don’t be shocked if the idea catches on here, assuming it hasn’t already happened in secret. In that event, even wandering through the people-packed maze that is Crossgates Mall or the dense vegetation of Thatcher Park wouldn’t help you escape prying eyes.
Whatever the uses wind up being, it’s a fascinating move when a multi-national organization such as The European Commission opens up the discussion to the public at large. That’s a good use of democracy. It fills me with warm feelings. Or, perhaps that’s because of the weather forecast that tells me we’re in for a continuing series of mid-70s days right into next week.
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