5 Ways You're Secretly Being Monitored

#2. RFID Chips

So you're in your local Wal-Mart perusing the razor blades and such on the off chance that at some point you might actually need to shave. You decide, "Ah, fuck it" and go ahead and buy yourself a Mach 3 because you think it'll look good on your shelf at home in the even more off chance that a girl stops by. This can't possibly have shit to do with Big Brother watching you, right?

Little Did You Know...

Among manufacturing giants and superstores, RFID chips are all the rage. But what's an RFID chip? Radio frequency identification chips are microscopic devices that can be implanted into pretty much any and everything you buy, from the wrapper on your Snickers bar to the bottle of hooch you brown bag it with on Friday afternoons.

The purpose of these RFID chips is to allow retailers to keep track of what products have been sold as opposed to what has been shoplifted and sold for crank money on eBay. So if you feel like boosting a copy of the latest High School Musical soundtrack (for your little sister, of course), keep in mind that it can be tracked and your humiliating taste in music will be made public in the police blotter.

Now, supposedly, RFID chips will become inactive after you've left the store when they're turned off at the cash register. That's provided you remember to tell the cashier to turn the chip off, thereby extending the checkout process by approximately 17 hours. Forget to do that, and the tag could potentially be tracked anywhere.

And the best part? There's no way of knowing what products have RFID chips and which don't. Thank God we get our porn online, where... oh, wait. ECHELON.

#1. The Total Information Awareness Program

You've got a busy day ahead of you! After you send a few emails and max out your credit card ordering the Gilmore Girls season three DVD, you still have to head to an ATM to get some cash for your night on the town, which basically consists of drinking yourself stupid and passing out alone. Right about now you're probably asking yourself, "All right, Cracked, during which of these activities was someone spying on me?"

The answer is... all of them. Well, except passing out alone, unless you've got a roommate, in which case a photo of your face adorned with Sharpie drawn penises is probably being uploaded to Buzzfeed as we speak.

Little Did You Know...

The Total Information Awareness Project tracks your daily electronic transactions looking for patterns to emerge. This helps the government determine whether you're just a run-of-the-mill porn loving pervert or a porn loving pervert terrorist!

And what dastardly technology does the Pentagon rely on to watch its citizens? Well, you're using it right now. Pretty much everything you do, from the Pussycat Dolls songs you buy to the chest waxing bills you pay to the demoralizing dating profile you fill out, is now done online. These giant networks of computers all connected to the World Wide Web make it a whole lot easier for the feds to watch every little thing you do.

DARPA, the government agency that created the Total Information Awareness Project, is fully aware that in the hands of human analysts, the access to all of these records could very easily be abused. So, some parameters have been proposed that would put the power to red flag someone in the hands of the machines.

See, that was the problem in Orwell's book. There, it was evil humans tracking your every move. It's not so bad knowing it's a series of unfeeling, completely impartial computer networks.


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