Unreasonable Surveillance | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 37 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: September 15, 2008

Unreasonable Surveillance

Department: Letters

Sarah Everts' Newscripts article on unwanted surveillance in Barcelona reminded me of 1960, when I was the European editor of C&EN (Aug. 4, page 56). At the time, Generalissimo Francisco Franco still ran a repressive dictatorship in Spain. However, this was not apparent to casual visitors, and the French Société de Chimie Industrielle held its annual meeting there that year.

The late Dick Kenyon, then editor-in-chief of C&EN, came to Europe from Washington, D.C., and I joined him in Barcelona to cover the meeting. He was scheduled to give some sort of a general paper at a section composed chiefly of Americans. We were waiting in a lecture hall at the university, where he was to give the talk, when I noticed him furiously revising his notes. I asked him why, and he said that since we seemed to be under the watchful eye of a bust of the generalissimo mounted on the wall, he thought it best to delete his statement that science and scholarship could only thrive in an atmosphere of freedom.

Albert S. Hester
Ormond Beach, Fla.

I was alarmed by the Newscripts article reporting the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to monitor attendance at conferences. One could ask why this is being done, who is collecting the data, and what will be done with it? Why would someone be interested in my leaving a conference room to visit the washroom? Surreptitious data-gathering of this sort should be declared illegal, as it smacks of monitoring by Big Brother and is an invasion of privacy. How long will it be before we are implanted with RFID tags at birth?

Orval A. Mamer
Montreal

 
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