« August 2006 | Main | October 2006 »

September 30, 2006

Chip in baby's tummy starts car

No sooner did I post the wacky "dog eats chip, starts car" story below than I ran across this one. Apparently back in 2002, a baby's mom pressed him against the steering wheel to start her car after he ate the "pill-sized" radio frequency transponder in her car key.

Here's the story:

Baby swallows hard and gets behind the wheel to drive Mum home

A mother who was stranded when her teething baby ate a vital part of the car key managed to start the engine by pressing the child to the steering wheel.

One-year-old Oscar Webster swallowed a pill-sized radio transponder - a coded electronic chip security device - while playing with her keys in the back of the car.

His mother, Amanda, 34, thought her car had broken down, so she called the motoring organisation, the RAC.

When patrolman Keith Scott turned up to help in the west London street, he thought that the battery was flat. "Then I noticed that part of the key was missing. So we looked around the car. Oscar's mother had let him play with the keys ...

"All of a sudden it dawned on me. Mrs Webster told me that he had been sucking the key and we realised he might have swallowed part of it."

Assuming that the transponder would still operate, Mr Scott suggested placing Oscar close to the steering column as his mother inserted the key. "She sat him on her lap and made sure that his tummy was pressed up against the wheel. She turned the key and the car started."

Transponders were first inserted in car keys in the mid-1990s. Usually the device is hidden in the plastic handle. But in some models it takes the form of a cylinder under a detachable cap.

Oscar was none the worse for the experience and, when nature took its course, the chip was recovered still in working order...

Source: The Telegraph, London. December 4 2002

I can't help but notice how both of these stories euphemistically refer to "nature taking its course." I might not have wanted that chip back when the baby was through with it. Yecch.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 1:37 PM | Comments (0)

Dog starts car - the RFID way

This RFID story is almost too weird to be true. In fact, if it didn't come from the BBC, I probably wouldn't believe it .

Dog starts car after eating chip

A breakdown patrol man who came to the rescue of a woman motorist has managed to get her car started using her dog.

Juliette Piesley, 39, had changed the battery in her electronic key fob but was then unable to start her car.

When AA patrolman Kevin Gorman arrived at the scene in Addlestone, Surrey, he found its immobiliser chip was missing.

Ms Piesley said her dog George had eaten something, and realising it was the chip, he put the dog in the front seat and started the car with the key.

Mr Gorman said: "I was glad to get the car started for the member.

"They will now have to take George [the dog] with them in the car until things take their natural course.

"It is the first time that I have had to get a dog to help me to start a car."

Source: BBC News, Tuesday, 26 September 2006

I can't help wondering what will happen once "things take their natural course." Of course, if the owner isn't comfortable digging through excrement to extract a slightly used RFID tag, she could just pop the poop into a baggie and use *that* to start her car. "Oh, that? It's not really a bag of dog poo, it's my car's RFID immibilizer chip. Can't you tell?"

It would be ironically appropriate, since security researchers at Johns Hopkins who hacked a car immobilizer chip have a hard time distinguishing RFID from a pile of poo themselves.

(Thanks to Synonym for the link.)

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 12:42 AM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2006

Brain may explain feeling of being followed


If you ever get the creepy feeling you're being watched, join the crowd. Virtually everywhere we go nowadays, we are subjected to the watchful gaze of surveillance cameras and other ways of tracking our activities and movements. But what if you could never get away from that sense of surveillance, even on a walk in the woods or in the privacy of your own home?

Researchers in Switzerland have found that electrically stimulating a part of the brain can induce a feeling of continual surveillance. Here's New Scientist's report:

Ever had the feeling you're being followed? Neuroscientists have accidentally induced this creepy feeling in a woman with epilepsy while electrically stimulating the left side of her brain.

The woman described how a shadowy man clasped her in his arms when she hugged her knees, and tried to pull cards out of her hands as she read them (Nature, vol 443, p 287). Olaf Blanke at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, and his colleagues realised that the "man" was in fact mimicking her own actions.

They believe the stimulated area, which is known to process information about where our body is, may be affected in psychiatric patients who suffer feelings of paranoia, persecution and alien control.

Source: New Scientist magazine, 20 September 2006, page 16

This could help explain the many people who believe their movements and thoughts are controlled or observed through the use of brain implants. (See entry below.)

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Feeling like you're being watched


If our email and phone calls are any indication, thousands of people around the country are convinced they have been implanted with some form of computer chip that can control them or listens to their thoughts.

Frankly, the jury is out for me on this whole issue. I believe that most people who "hear voices" or think someone is controlling them are suffering from schizophrenia (those are the hallmark symptoms), while other cases are not as easy to dismiss.

Regardless, the fact is I deal with RFID for commercial and inventory purposes, and I have never heard of an implant that could do the things people claim to be experiencing. The VeriChip implant, for instance, has no ability to control a person's thoughts, movements, etc. nor can it emit or transmit sounds. Plus, its read range is too short for someone to access it remotely. It can't even pinpoint a person's location from more than a few feet away. While it's true that Liz and I did run across some creepy patents for implants (detailed in Chapter 14 of Spychips) it is extremely unlikely these have been surreptitiously implanted into people involved in everyday disputes.

I will admit that I feel a pang of guilt when I dismiss these accounts. These people are either (a) in trouble and in need of psychiatric or emotional help, which I am not able to provide, or (b) experiencing a real phenomenon that is almost too horrible to contemplate. (OR they could be totally pulling our legs, which is another possibility.) But it is hard to look away when a fellow human appears so clearly to be suffering.

Assuming there is no such thing as a mind control implant, the accounts appearing in our in-boxes (and across the internet) raise disturbing questions about our society. Is our ubiquitous surveillance technology creating a surge in neurosis and mental illness? Research suggests that people do tend to get paranoid if they believe they have no way of knowing when they are being watched. Perhaps the rise in CCTV cameras, database profiling, and guerilla marketing is making us all a little nuts, and some people express it more overtly than others.

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 9:00 AM | Comments (7)

September 22, 2006

RFID Risky; Could Expose Company Secrets, says Forrester

reader reading tags.jpg
Consumers aren't the only ones who need to be concerned about the privacy and security downsides of RFID technology. A new report by Forrester Research is warning companies that "RFID is not mature enough yet to protect your company secrets," notes Evan Schuman, Retail Technology Editor for eWeek.com.

Forrester's report cites risks that include surreptitious modification of RFID data on tags and attackers monkeying around with data transmissions.

Read more at Schuman's StorefrontBackTalk:


- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

700 Club discusses human implants

I was interviewed for a CBN feature piece on the VeriChip human implant that aired this Monday on the 700 Club.

CBN's conclusion? "For most people, the time of human implants has not yet come."
We entirely agree.


Here's a condensed transcript of the segment:
Human Implants: Are We Ready?

You can view the video here:
CBN MediaCenter (It's the fourth story on the right)

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2006

Robert Scott Bell interviews Congressional Candidate Michael Badnarik and Me about RFID

robert scott bell show group photo.jpg

Robert Scott Bell will be interviewing me and Congressional Candidate Michael Badnarik about RFID chips, national REAL ID, and NAIS Sunday, September 10, 2006 somewhere between 2 PM and 3 PM Eastern Time.

Each week Robert Scott Bell empowers his listeners with healing principles that can aid in physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, economic and, yes, even political healing! Robert Scott Bell tackles the tough issues and shows no fear when confronting government and corporate bullies who would stand in the way of health freedom.
The Robert Scott Bell Radio Show website: http://rsbell.com/radio/index.php

Michael Badnarik is the Libertarian candidate for Texas Congressional District 10 and author of "Good To Be King: The Foundation of Our Constitutional Freedom." In 2004 he won the nomination as the Libertarian presidential candidate and was on the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia. He received over 400,000 votes in the general election.
Michael Badnarik's website: http://www.badnarik.org/

The Robert Scott Bell Show is syndicated by the Talk Radio Network to over 90 radio stations across the country, and Bell's programs are archived at his website so members can listen on demand.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 4:52 PM | Comments (0)