I’ve been mulling over John Robb’s description of the (very cool) RFID zapper the Chaos Computer Club demoed at their conference. He calls them “the German branch (privacy activists) of the global guerrilla innovation network.” He also states that “In order to correctly route and track items from inception to purchase, these chips are attached to packaging and increasingly the products themselves.” This is true, but misleading. RFID chips are actively designed to survive industrial level washing and drying in clothing. They are being actively, and expensively, designed to track items after purchase, and there is the motivation for the Germans. They’re innovating on behalf of those of us who don’t like being surreptitiously tracked.
What does this have to do with the global guerrilla? Well, bad choices (like track after purchase) mean that the technologies we need to defend ourselves end up being useful to bad guys. This is nothing new. The car you drive is useful to a bank robber. The digital camera you use is useful for capturing and sharing pictures of potential targets. The assertion that these folks are innovating on behalf of guerrillas is, prima facie, ridiculous. People designing for guerrillas don’t show their wares at conferences open to the public and press.