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Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID Hardcover – October 2, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Katherine Albrecht is the founder and director of CASPIAN, an international consumer group. Dubbed the "Erin Brockovich" of RFID by Wired magazine, she is one of the leading voices for privacy in today's fast-changing, high-tech world. Katherine holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

Liz McIntyre is an award-winning investigative writer with a flair for exposing corporate shenanigans and bureaucratic misdeeds. She serves as CASPIAN's communications director and has been the master strategist for many of the organization's most successful media campaigns.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1st edition (October 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595550208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595550200
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Gardner VINE VOICE on September 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book covers, in detail, the existing use of RF technology to violate consumer privacy. RF chips are small and innocuous. RF chips can easily be seen as a benign technology if used appropriately (for example to reduce shoplifting by enhancing loss protection capabilities of retail stores and improved stock management).

The authors have identified numerous examples of multinational companies misusing RF chip technology.

The research behind this book appears both thorough and comprehensive. The use of statements lifted from patents really helps the authors make their case that these chips are likely to be put to use in ways the majority of us would find disturbing if not repugnant.

Negatives: the style of writing is very sensationalist. The mix of editorial comment and research lessons the impact of some of the material presented. The material sometimes lacks context: almost any technology can be abused. Also, in some instances loss of privacy may be a reasonable trade off for improved service/protection.

Also, RF Chips are not a unique risk (add data mining, "smart" chips and even car electronics - e.g. the chip that operates airbags,in some models, will record the impact speed of an accident).

The book draws on examples from around the World. US consumers have more to worry about than Canada, Australia and Europe where there is at least some protection from data protection legislation. US Privacy legislation lags behind (could this possibly be the result of lobbying by corporate political action committees?).

The bottom line is that the authors are right to raise a very loud warning to act on misuse of this technology, before it is too late.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Troy Marketing Associates on January 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This topic is arguably one of the top 2 or 3 most important in the area of Privacy, and certainly a top topic in the business ethics area, although Ms. Albrecht would probably say the term "Business Ethics" is an immediate contradiction in terms.

As a marketing educator, I have placed this book on my syllabus for an E-Commerce course I teach, with the following reservation - it is entirely too celebratory of the author. IMO, this book was written with a self-promotional Erin Brockovich overlay I found off target. Its impact would be greater if it stuck to the facts, which are compelling and striking.

As an ex-Corporate marketer, I found Ms. Albrecht's methodology of tracking company's actual patents (IBM, Motorola, etc.), versus their reactive 'positioning statements', a very useful technique for cutting through the Corporate double-speak, especially when it related to corporate denials of consumer level tracking, when their own patent applications are directly FOR such applications.

As for the content, while some reviewers here poo-poo the 30 to 50 foot range of reading individual product 'spy chips' on clothing using today's technology, I think the range is perfectly adequate for trucks driving by most neighborhoods taking readings off such chips - just as many gas, water and electric meters are read today, as utilities change to RFID devices from manual reading. And the history of technology is that the the ranges and accuracy will improve.

What I take from this book is as follows. RFID, while very useful at the "Supply Chain"/pallet level in increasing distribution efficiency and effectiveness, is very troubling when applied to consumer level packaging.
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72 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Claire Wolfe on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
RFID chips are tiny tracking devices that can be attached to or embedded in nearly anything -- and ultimately will be if industry and governments have their way. They broadcast information about an item and its possessor to any device capable of "pinging" them.

If we don't prevent it, these devices will soon be used to track and control everyone from cradle to grave.

As a privacy activist, I thought I'd been watching RFID implementation closely. But I didn't know the half of what Katherine and Liz reveal in Spychips.

The authors have dug deep into the files of the U.S. patent office. They've attended RFID industry conferences as "moles." They've traveled to Europe and throughout the U.S., uncovering RFID chips -- and disingenuous spin about RFID chips -- in unexpected places.

From this voluminous research and years of activism (Katherine is the founder and head of the privacy group CASPIAN and Liz is its communications director) they've produced a slender, info-packed, and yet highly readable -- and reasonably priced -- hardbound book.

I really must stress, and stress again, that word "readable." Spychips is about a truly frightening topic and a highly technical one, as well. But the book is lucid, concise, witty and at times reads like a novel. Call it a technological thriller.

It is also impeccably factual. You can rely on the info you'll get here. And I hope millions WILL rely on it. If we're to have any hope of preserving privacy and freedom in the future, we must ALL know what Katherine and Liz tell us so eloquently.
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