Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blame Canada!

Here's a rare one for all you numismatists out there.

The US Department of Defense is warning its contractors about possible tracking devices contained in Canadian coins. Apparently, some have been discovered with tiny radio transmitters inside:

[The report] said the mysterious coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.

Further details were kept secret, including
who might be tracking American defense contractors or why, how the Pentagon discovered the ruse, how the transmitters might function or even which Canadian currency contained them.

This is quite an interesting story, non? Apparently the suspects include the French, the Chinese and the Russians, who all have espionage operations inside Canada.

My personal theory is that groups in the US opposed to the slow replacement of the iconic dollar bill with an inferior round metal equivalent have planted the "spy coins" to demonstrate the essential un-American nature and potential security risk of coinage as opposed to paper money.

In Britain with the (relatively) recent adoption of the £2 coin, and across Europe with the euro (especially the 2 euro coin), the public have left themselves open to previously unpredicted physical tracking using hollowed-out coinage. These new coins are large enough to conceal tracking devices and given that the CIA has used them, I'd be surprised if MI6 and co hadn't got similar gadgets. ("Now pay attention 007, don't put this one in the jukebox.")

Who knows whether Big Brother is watching us from inside our wallets? We can already be traced by our credit card paper trail - are spy coins the next creeping manifestation of state intrusion into our lives? What with the fluoridation of drinking water and the subsequent sapping and impurification of our precious bodily fluids, I wonder if our freedom means anything today.

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