April 18, 2006

Named the Year's "Best Book on Liberty"

"Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID" has been named winner of the 2006 Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty. The book paints a revealing picture of how organizations plan to use tiny computer chips connected to miniature antennas to track everyday objects -- and even people -- keeping close tabs on people's belongings and whereabouts.

"The Lysander Spooner Awards are our way of honoring and showing our appreciation to the writers, editors, researchers, and publishers who continue to advocate for freedom," said Kathleen Hiserodt, President of Laissez Faire Books, a division of a non-profit educational foundation established in 1972. "'Spychips' is a truly important book. I applaud the authors for bringing this vital information to the public, and I hope the book will mobilize readers to protect their privacy before it is too late."

Hiserodt's organization created the Lysander Spooner Awards in January 2004. The honor is given monthly to books that have made the greatest contribution to the literature of liberty. An annual winner is selected from 4 finalists chosen from the year's entries. The winning author (or authors, in this case) receives a cash prize of $1,500.

Other finalists for the 2006 prize were Thomas Sowell for "Black Rednecks and White Liberals," Geoffrey R. Stone for "Perilous Times," and Phil Valentine for "Tax Revolt."

"Just to be considered in the running with such amazing writers and thinkers is an honor in itself," McIntyre observes. "We hope this recognition will encourage others to read the book and counter attempts by global corporations and their pundits to downplay its importance."

"Spychips" has raised the hackles of companies like Procter & Gamble, Philips, Gillette, and IBM, who were understandably embarrassed to find their plans to track people with RFID technology laid out so vividly in the book's pages. The authors have called for consumers to avoid purchasing products from these and other RFID proponents, a strategy they hope will convince the retail Goliaths to take consumer privacy and civil liberties concerns seriously.

Increased attention to the book and its call for market-based consumer action comes at a particularly bad time for Wal-Mart, seen as the driving force behind broad-scale adoption of RFID. The Associated Press reports that the retail giant is cutting back on inventory in its stores as it "struggles with slowing sales and disappointing profit growth." In addition, Wal-Mart's stock price has fallen 6 percent during the past 12 months.

"Most people assume 'Spychips' is a book about technology, but this award recognizes it for what it really is: a book about liberty," says Albrecht. "It has has become a rallying point for consumers who are fed up with the erosion of their privacy and the encroaching surveillance society. Because RFID is a smoking gun, our book is a wake-up call to focus the energies of what is fast becoming a consumer revolution."

The Spooner Awards are named for the somewhat obscure 19th century jurist and author, Lysander Spooner. Best known for his work in the abolitionist movement, Spooner also earned acclaim for starting the first private postal service in the United States, challenging the government's monopoly on the mails and eventually forcing the Post Office to drastically reduce the price of postage.

Previous annual Spooner award winners include James Bovard for his book "Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil," and Randy Barnett for his book "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty."


"Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID" (Nelson Current) was released in October 2005. Already in its fifth printing, "Spychips" is the winner of the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty and has received wide critical acclaim. Authored by Harvard doctoral researcher Katherine Albrecht and former bank examiner Liz McIntyre, the book is meticulously researched, drawing on patent documents, corporate source materials, conference proceedings, and firsthand interviews to paint a convincing -- and frightening -- picture of the threat posed by RFID.

Despite its hundreds of footnotes and academic-level accuracy, the book remains lively and readable according to critics, who have called it a "techno-thriller" and "a masterpiece of technocriticism."


home | overview | faq | blog | press | get involved | about us

The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.