Finished reading: Our Data, Ourselves by Jacqueline D. Lipton 📚

I abandoned this book after a few chapters. I wasn’t sure how much I really wanted to read a book about technology and data where the author claims on page 10 that

“RFID can be monitored at a distance. You do not need a digital reader in the proximity of the device to locate and ‘read’ its information. RFID microchips are implanted in livestock and pets to help find them if they are lost. They are implanted into digital devices, notably automobiles, to find them if they become stolen or lost, or simply to track them for work or other purposes.”

This is… somewhere between blatantly wrong and misunderstood. RFID is used for these things (microchips in animals, automobile assembly lines, books at a library) but it’s used over very short distances, and is entirely passive (the tag is not powered). Someone has apparently managed to read a passport from about 10 metres using special equipment, but that’s far from standard usage. I don’t think you can just “find” an RFID tag in the wild with any reader. You can use one to identify a found animal, or which automobile is passing a sensor in a factory, or which book is being checked out, but there’s definitely some strong notion of “proximity” involved, as far as I’m aware (please correct me if I’m wrong). I believe RFID is used in automated highway toll collection, but it involves significant power, likely not passively.

That left a bad enough taste in my (mind)mouth that I wasn’t particularly open to reading in great depth about (very specifically) American law

This book focuses on the American position on individual privacy

especially with the note that

our powerful First Amendment protections of free speech-that is, speech free from government interference-have been regarded as limiting laws that restrict what we can say about each other.

I can only read so many “Someone vs Someone” names of legal precedents and US-specific names of agencies, court jurisdictions, etc. before giving up. This may be of more interest to someone in the US interested in specific legal aspects, but it’s not for me.