"The Next Big Privacy Concern: RFID 'Spychips'"
Radio-frequency I.D. (RFID) tags are a convenient way to track items and cut costs for companies. But this technology is increasingly being used to track other things, like security badges — or even people — giving it the potential to cause a horrific erosion of privacy. Tracking people with smart tags, their shopping preferences, their activities, and their personal belongings sounds like something from a sci-fi thriller.
But If you got your panties in a twist over Walmart's decision to track your undies via RFID smart tags, then you'll be doublely concerned at how close we are to cradle-to-grave surveillance.
If your trash is filled with RFID tags, your trash could be exploited by cybercriminals (driving by with a RFID reader). Perhaps consumers should be advised to trash the offending tag before they leave Walmart parking lot? I’m honestly less concerned that cybercriminals will be cataloging an individual’s purchases via their trash than I am about RFID becoming "spychips" — using the RFID technology to track the whereabouts of citizens who have no idea they are being tracked. RFID chips are already embedded into passports and other everyday items. These potential-privacy-decimating spychips can be the size of a dust speck.
But the idea is far from dead. How about if governments started using RFID to issue automated ticket violations? As part of a project called ASSET-Road, VTT Technical Research Center in Finland, has developed RFID license plate tracking. The project began in 2008 and will wrap in June, 2011. VTT attempts to detect traffic congestion but it also achieved the goal of “traffic violations detected in a flash.” And then Arizona-based camera vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) expanded upon that RFID technology by developing automated tailgating tickets as a feature that can soon be added to existing speed camera programs. Now add in this bit of info: There are also drivers licenses that "come equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that can be read right through a wallet, pocket or purse from as far away as 30 feet."
Along similar lines is a company using RFID to track employees. An Indian company, Unity Infraprojects, uses RFID employee tags to keep track of so-called "ghost workers." The only way an employee gets paid is by a combination of RFID evidence and physical presence to collect daily payment.
And there are those taking this idea of tracking people a step further. RFID transponders can be embedded as a subdermal implant, similar to a microchip. Microchips for tracking our beloved pets are now common. Microsoft has HealthVault and Google has Google Health for e-health record management services and both are pushing for RFID medical brace
Between 2007 and 2009, RFID in the guise of VeriChip implants were given to hundreds of Alzheimer’s patients to help identify them and notify caregivers in case of an emergency. Since 2008, RFID infant protection systems have been placed on some infants at birth to prevent them from being abducted from the hospital or from being given to the wrong mother.
A new RFID product, "guarantees that RFID will follow you straight to your grave." The palm-size stone tablet has an RFID tag that talks with mobile phones to direct users to an Internet memorial archive. And such uses for RFID are only the tip of the iceberg. Thing Magic, a company that builds embedded RFID readers, recently launched 100 Uses of RFID.
At this year's HOPE hacker conference, the hackers showed both the good and the bad that comes when a person is attached to an RFID badge. “This badge knows what talks you go to. It knows who you talk to. It knows what places in the conference you go. It knows when you were there,” says Rob Zinkov, of the HOPE badge team. If you use that data to enhance your own conference experience, RFID is good. If someone else uses that data, unbeknownst to you, not good.
Location-aware apps are scary enough, based on GPS with the broad range they offer. But for the most part you still have to sign up for those. RFID is being implemented all around you. It has slowly been moving to mainstream. It can track infants to senior citizens with Alzheimer’s. In between it can track your clothes, your purchases, your car — even you. RFID is on the verge of tracking us all, cradle to the grave.
Not only do we see the step-wise progression of the use of this technology, but the general acceptance by the public is also being conditioned. It also seems obvious that ultimately, a proposal will be made that the only way to provide total security of this technology and to avoid theft, will be to embed the technology/chips just under the skin or perhaps in the form of a tattoo. The rapid rate of growth of this technology is astonishing.
Following the Rapture of the Church, there will be very little resistance to the use of this technology, and little resistance to being "chipped". Only those new believers; those who have come to Christ during the Tribulation, and most likely many Jews will refuse to take the Mark, and those unfortunate people will most likely have to operate within a black-market system in order to purchase necessities simply to survive. It promises to be a horrible time. Thankfully, we won't be here; the Bride of Christ has a much different fate approaching. Maranatha!