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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Stallman Detained for Wearing a Tin-Foil Hat!

Well, almost...

via Jerry Pournelle's mail (again):

"Friday, November 18: Richard Stallman Gets in Trouble with UN Security for Wearing a Tin-Foil Hat" (There's no permalink to the article, so just page down.)

It seems Stallman, who is-to say the least!-an outspoken proponent of privacy and a strong opponent of privacy invasion of any kind, was detained by U.N. security personnel after he spoke, as a U.N. delegate at a conference in Tunisia last week. Seems he had wrapped his RFID-embedded ID badge in tin foil so they couldn't track his whereabouts without his permission (which he'd never give, anyway).

"During his keynote speech at our panel today, Richard gave a moment's talk about the RF ID issue, and passed his roll of aluminum foil around the room for others to use. A number of people in the overcrowded-to-the-max standing-room-only meeting room obligingly shielded their own passes. UN Security was in the room, not only to protect us but because of the crowd issue, and was bound to notice. Richard and I delivered our keynotes, followed by shorter talks by the rest of the panel and then open discussion."

And then...

"...I was busy with the press for two solid hours. So, I didn't see what happened with Richard. But a whole lot of the people in the room did, and stayed with Richard for the entire process.

Apparently, UN Security would not allow Richard to leave the room."

They let him in, all right. Well, he let them scan his ID before entering. But even though he was there as a U.N. rep, carrying a U.N. delgate badge at a U.N. sponsored meeting, apparently because he had thwarted the security guys' measures that would allow them to track him everywhere, they had to act like TSA goons.

Well, duh. Of course they did. As Pournelle is fond of quoting,

"When a stupid man does something he knows is wrong, he always claims it is his duty."