While doing a little last minute Christmas shopping last week, I noticed a book called Spychips. The subtitle of the book is "How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID." The book goes on to explain, in tones meant to chill and frighten, that "plans and efforts are being made now by global corporations and the U.S government to turn this advanced technology, these spychips, into a way to track our daily activities-and keep us all on Big Brother's short leash."
This probably makes for exciting reading and will no doubt spawn dozens of conspiracy theories, but the real threat to privacy isn't overt technologies like RFID, but more subtle efforts. I read a story in The Independent describing how cameras and video recognition software can be combined to track the movements of every driver:
Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.
Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyze any journey a driver has made over several years.
Britain already has the cameras in place. The UK is one of the most surveilled countries in the world. Software exists that can read vehicle license plates clearly at up to 70 MPH. Throw in a little IT and you've got a system that would have given Joseph Stalin goosebumps.