Media & Technology: Redlight Greenlight 123

Friday, June 24, 2005


Sometime ago someone took my credit and debit cards out of my wallet and put the wallet back. The only reason I found out as soon as I did was because my bank called to question my transactions. It wasn't my usual pattern of spending, nor was it any of my usual places to spend. They asked me to make sure I had them, and much to my surprise, nevermind that I was totally pissed, there, in the wallet, they were not. Thank God they checked in with me. I had to go through the whole rigamarole of filing a report at the police precinct and at my job. None of the stores where the purchases were made had cameras at the cash register. I mean come one, Bloomingdales didn't have one? I had my suspicions who it might have been, which meant that he had to have a woman accomplice. I'm ridiculously pissed that someone else not only invaded my privacy and stole my identity, but was able to use MY CARDS! WHY don't stores check for identification? I asked a cashier and she said it's not worth my life if the card and the carrier don't match. OK. Good looking out. So now I have ASK FOR ID on the back of all of my cards HOPING they ask.

I say all of this because of the "contactless smart card" that resembles a credit card, but has a microchip instead of a magnetic strip. I'm sure you've seen one. Mastercard launched their "PayPass" card last year. Just wave it near (remember I said this) a wireless electronic sensor and it reads your information. Not only can it be used as a credit or debit card, but it can give ID background checks. Another "next wave" of convienient, speedy, flexible technology, this gadget begs at least two questions, "what prevents someone else from using it," and "if I'm just walking near the sensor, will it charge me/read me anyway?" If someone uses it, I'm screwed. If I lose it, I'm screwed because someone will use it.

I know it won't be long before the government approves human microchips, unless that explains the ringing in my ears since I was five.


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