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You Need Not Be Paranoid To Fear RFID

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the tales-of-horror dept.

Privacy 509

An anonymous reader writes "A story at the Boston Globe covers extensive privacy abuses involving RFID." From the article: "Why is this so scary? Because so many of us pay for our purchases with credit or debit cards, which contain our names, addresses, and other sensitive information. Now imagine a store with RFID chips embedded in every product. At checkout time, the digital code in each item is associated with our credit card data. From now on, that particular pair of shoes or carton of cigarettes is associated with you. Even if you throw them away, the RFID chips will survive. Indeed, Albrecht and McIntyre learned that the phone company BellSouth Corp. had applied for a patent on a system for scanning RFID tags in trash, and using the data to study the shopping patterns of individual consumers." I think they may be going a little overboard with their stance, but it's always interesting to talk about.

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509 comments

Just put them in your microwave (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755299)

Whenever you purchase something, just fry the RFID chip by putting the stuff for 15 seconds in your microwave. Problem solved.

(Or just use cash).

Re:Just put them in your microwave (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755306)

Except, if you want to buy something with cash, you have to carry that cash around with you, which means risking it being taken violently from you by a displaced New Orleans resident. It's quite a conundrum.

Re:Just put them in your microwave (1)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755322)

Good point on SOMEONE taking it violently, not just some unfortunate from the Big Easy,

Re:Just put them in your microwave (1)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755344)

oh yeah, what about the 99.999% of people from New Orleans that wouldn't do that ?
Bear in mind they most likely don't have RFID on their list of immediate concerns

Re:Just put them in your microwave (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755319)

The only problem I see here is that not everything is microwave safe.

How do oyu microwave your brand new microwave?

What happens when your steel toe capped boots go in there?

Will the fabric on your GFs dress screw up if you you zap it?

Will the DVD you just bought be playable or writable?

thats just a few thoughts, but microwaving should be safe... YMMV

Re:Just put them in your microwave (5, Funny)

Joakim A (313708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755335)

> How do oyu microwave your brand new microwave?
Simple, buy a new micro that fits inside your old one.

> Will the DVD you just bought be playable or writable?
I doubt that the micro can do either.

Re:Just put them in your microwave (5, Funny)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755367)

How do you microwave your brand new microwave?

Or, as the Roman poet Juvenal might have said, Quis microwavet ipsos microwaves?

Re:Just put them in your microwave (4, Interesting)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755376)

since the rfid chips are all still based on common electronic circuits and microchips, you should just emit a strong enough emp signal at it, and it's fried ... and at least dvd disks and cd-roms should survive it quite well ... ( i wouldnt try it on the microwave :p )

when they make rfid based paying cards ... then emitting an emp signal at a store full of rfid card users could mean a lot of fun at the cashier :)

note that you dont need a nuclear bomb to create an emp wave, even smaller tools can do it, like the one linked to here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Explosively_pumped_fl ux_compression_generator [wikipedia.org]

passive rfid chips are especially vulnerable to this because they by themselves rely on the signal energy to respond at all.

Re:Just put them in your microwave (5, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755391)

(Or just use cash).

and when the notes have RFID chips in them???

Re:Just put them in your microwave (3, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755436)

Use coins. I already do anyway. The authorities must think I have a massive gambling habit, but really I'm just going into amusement arcades to change serial-numbered notes for unnumbered coins. Coins, being made of metal, cannot have RFID devices embedded in them. Radio waves will not travel through anything that conducts electricity {this is a fundamental limitation of the universe and cannot be overcome by invention}. If you are really paranoid, you can test each coin for conductivity in several places using a simple home-built device {a store-bought AVO may have been rigged}.

Re:Just put them in your microwave (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755451)

You're in the UK aren't you? You're in a place where the people actually see the use of coins that are worth more than a few pence.

Here in America...they've tried several times to come out with a dollar coin, only to have it fail time and again. Even when they try to change the color of the dollar coin so it's not confused with a quarter, people still balk at it. People want their paper money here.

Re:Just put them in your microwave (2, Funny)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755461)

If you are really paranoid, you can test each coin for conductivity in several places using a simple home-built device {a store-bought AVO may have been rigged}

wow... and I thought I was being paranoid...

but... (-1, Offtopic)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755300)

I WANT to be paranoid.

Re:but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755447)

Don't worry, you are. We monitor your paranoia level 24/7 and will inform you through our "special circuit" when we detect that your paranoia level is dropping. Plus, although its not part of our "investigation", all of us here feel you aren't wiping your bum properly.

The course of action here is obvious... (4, Funny)

raehl (609729) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755301)

Patent tin-foil garbage bags.

Re:The course of action here is obvious... (1)

DutchSter (150891) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755321)

...or I guess I'll have to resume the environmentally unfriendly practice of using the incinerator in the basement of my house. Don't think anyone's used that thing in 20 years beyond a place to shove their cigarette butts during parties!

I bet the fumes from the tags will be great for all involved!

No way! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755416)

That would infringe on my patent for tin-foil panchos!

You Need Not Be Paranoid To Fear RFID... (2, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755311)

You Need Not Be Paranoid To Fear RFID...

...but it helps?

Are you out of your mind????? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755315)

Don't you realise this is essential to stop terrorism????? Think of the children for a change instead of these stupid "rights" or whatever they're called.

Patent War Chest (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755324)

The Good News:
1) BellSouth is a huge company that can't figure out what to do about PTSN loses, much less how to deploy RFID scanners.
2) This is just a patent to be added to their war chest. Every large company is likely to be sued, so they need methods to fight back. Patents are often the most cost effective manner, since getting them is cheaper than mounting any defense against of a real lawsuit.

I see a market.. (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755327)

...for RFID-killers. Shouldn't need more than a watt or so at the right frequency to kill the chip.

-jcr

Re:I see a market.. (1)

Joakim A (313708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755347)

Yepp, and scanners and transmitters. How long will it be before we all can scan each other, steal the RFID code and do some serious RFID spoofing? The possibilities are endless :)

Re:I see a market.. (2, Informative)

cronotk (896650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755448)

A geran computer magazine (c't) has built some kind of scanner which can determine if the scanned product in the supermarket has a RFID-chip "implanted".
AFAIK were they trying to disable the chip with that device, too, but I don't know if they succeeded with this :)

DMCA voilation?? (5, Insightful)

doublem (118724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755429)

Since RFID tags are so useful to corporations, I see any "RFID Killer" being classified as illegal as soon as it hiss the market.

After all, it could be used to steal items from a store, or interfere with the RFID chips that people DON'T want deactivated!!!

It'll be classified as a burglary tool or something worse in short order, if there aren't aspects of such a devise that aren't already illegal.

Re:DMCA voilation?? (1)

The Wooden Badger (540258) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755454)

Of course we Slashdot types will soon see an article about a homebrew RFID killer. I wonder if my dad's old VHS erasing electromagnet would do anything? I wouldn't think that it could be considered a burglary tool considering weight and dimensions, let alone the 120V AC plug that hangs from it. It's a powerful magnet, but is it powerful enough?

Re:DMCA voilation?? (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755482)

Since RFID tags are so useful to corporations, I see any "RFID Killer" being classified as illegal as soon as it hiss the market.

Well, I don't have quite such a pessimistic outlook. It would probably be illegal to zap an RFID tag in a store, because until you buy it, it's not yours. Once you own it though, you're entitled to fry the RFID, rip off the tags that say "do not remove this tag", etc.

-jcr

Physical counteraction (4, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755329)

Surely this is nothing a drill*/pair of scissors/giving up smoking/strong high-frequency magnetic field couldn't solve. After all, it's your RFID chip. So destroy it!

*You probably shouldn't try this if the chip is on a condom.

Condoms?!? (4, Funny)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755368)

*You probably shouldn't try this if the chip is on a condom.

Duh, just wait until after your done with it ;)

Actually, now that I think about it, I could see an interesting market for personal rfid scanners. You can sell it to women to take on first (or 2nd or 3rd) dates and it can scan for the product id's for condoms. That way they can catch a bit of a glimpse of what types of intentions (or hopes, or in the case of most /.'ers, dreams) their date has :)

Re:Condoms?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755372)

Uh oh, I was still wearing mine.

Re:Condoms?!? (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755377)

Duh, just wait until after your done with it ;)

Easier said than done. Even if I could be bothered, in a post-coital daze, to get out my Black & Decker and mangle the chip, the resulting noise and mess would hose the mood something proper. And as for waiting until morning and rummaging through the bin — no way!

You don't have to be paranoid - but it helps (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755333)

Already the scenes from 2002s movie Minority Report, where your retinas are scanned and "personalised" advertising is beamed at you, seems quaint. Now we know you'll be RFID scanned, and up-sold on the shoes you're wearing, as the brand, size and age of your shoes will be instantly known. And cash won't help, because RFID chips will be in that too.

Shopping patterns (4, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755340)

What's so bad about studying them?

Like with Google ads, if I have to live with ads, I much prefer directed ones with at least some research behind them than undirected ones. In other words -- in this case with shoes, if they wished to send me ads by mail, I'd rather only get ads for men in my age than women and kids.

Of course, connecting these studies to other databases from other companies could make it very wrong, but that's another problem I think need other laws (unless there aren't any already -- IANAL).

And at least where I live, there are already laws against storing personally identifiable data in a database, such as your social security number. I guess age, gender, and other purely statistical data don't fall under this law, and I don't see a compelling reason to why it should. Is it really such a big deal?

Re:Shopping patterns (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755381)

Like with Google ads, if I have to live with ads, I much prefer directed ones with at least some research behind them than undirected ones.

Google doesn't connect me with my credit card number and name. It also does this up front, not going around to your house and going through your garbage.

Although it seems simple to me, pay cash, don't give any stores your name, phone number or postcode. If they insist, lie or stop shopping there.

Re:Shopping patterns (1)

tuxette (731067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755437)

What's so bad about studying them?

My gripe is their having to sneak around to get information they could simply ask me for. And usually, all this sneaking around leads to the collection of wrong information and we're all stuck with advertising that really isn't geared towards who we really are after all...

What ever happened to the straightforward and honest approach to getting shopping habits demographic information?

Some things you might want to keep private. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755508)

What's so bad about studying them[shopping patterns]?

Here's a short list of things that you might not want everyone knowing:

  1. Your drinking habits.
  2. Your method of birth control.
  3. Medications especially for things like anti-depressants or treatments for STDs.
  4. The books you read.

All of these things can be used against you by your employer or insurance company.

You only think you want targeted ads. Imagine your wife getting ads for the wrong brand of tampon at just the right time. That's how invasive and awful your phone company's snooping can be. The grocery store comes close right now. The targeting works as intended and is as annoying as hell because the stupid coupons are always for the wrong brand.

Finally, ask yourself what snooping through your garbage has to do with phone service. Is this why federal, state and local laws protect incumbent phone providers from competition? BellSouth, thank you for a new low.

Calm Down: You're Being Paranoid (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755345)

Come on, people, think about it. RFID on everything? It's not going to happen. The statistical data gained would be horribly inaccurate because nobody would ever know whether or not you're actually the one wearing the shoes. For instance, what if they were a gift for somebody 3,000 miles away?

Re:Calm Down: You're Being Paranoid (1)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755380)

The statistical data gained would be horribly inaccurate because nobody would ever know whether or not you're actually the one wearing the shoes.

They don't need to know that you're the one wearing them. They just want to know that you're the type of person they can sell more of them to. One off purchases are one thing, but if they establish a pattern they can use it to predict what you might like. It's not rocket science.

Re:Calm Down: You're Being Paranoid (1)

Hammer (14284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755468)

So, the RFID tag just help the police identify me as the likely killer ... 3000 miles away from my location...
Who? Me? Paranoid? Naaah :-)

Ubiquity (5, Interesting)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755350)

Looking at the way the **AA are carpet-bombing all and sundry with outree requests in support of their business model - in the hope that the odd one will stick - once RFID tech is used widly, I foresee a future where first major brands, then other retailers and law enforcement will be making similar requests, more or less "because it's technically possible".

=> EULA when you buy a Ralph Lauren shirt, making it illegal to disable the tag?
=> Extra tax if you nuke your trash before putting it by the roadside? ("WallMart has a right to know!")
=> Automatic searches at the airport when a scan of your luggage turns results that deviate from the norm?
=> A new "coming of age" rutual, whereby you have your mandatory kiddy-goes-to-school tag removed when you turn 18 21?

Generally, who cares? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755353)

I mean really. Right now, anyone can go through my garbage and recyclabes and see:

- what my spending habits are like (empty product boxes along with the other trash)
- what my diet is like
- what my consumption rate is
- what my interests are (above mentioned product boxes, tossed junk mail, etc)
- what my personal timeline is like (how much trash is developed at various times)
- samples of my dna (various personal care item cast offs, hair, finger nails, etc)
- samples of my finger prints

and lord knows what else. Really, all we're really talking about here for the average person is that they can do several of the above without getting really messy and stinky.

Re:Generally, who cares? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755463)

Today you need to *go through* that garbage to get the information. It's a manual, long and expensive process.

With RFID, the process is completely automatized and takes less than half a second. You can integrate a reader in the garbage collection chain (or even in the garbage collection trucks) and get all that information at an industrial scale -- i.e. big-brotherize everyone.

Generally, who cares? Well I do.

Re:Generally, who cares? (1, Informative)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755466)

My trash bin sits on my property, and the only person who has any right to step onto my property and take are the folks who work for my garbage service. So that means that anyone else who tries this is going to be looking down the barrel of a 12-gauge, trying to explain to me what they think they're doing if they want to live long enough to get charged with trespassing and hauled off by the local sheriff.

I feel for the folks who *have* to put their bins on the curb, when they could just move them a few feet back onto their drive or lawn and make it legally impossible for anyone to touch their trash except for the garbage service. Of course, I also realize that in the current political climate some Washington hack sucking Homeland Security dick would probably pass a law making this illegal if it became common practice.

Max

Re:Generally, who cares? (1)

VagaStorm (691999) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755480)

They can, but they don't caus it's to costly.

What we're realy are talking about is making it practicly posible on a large scale. Could simply be automated with a scaner in the garbage truck....

Re:Generally, who cares? (2, Insightful)

Alef (605149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755484)

Yes, you can do that, but it is messy and takes a lot of time. With RFID tags you could do it without even having to open the trash bag, and the whole process could be automated and performed at a massive scale, and that makes the information cheap.

I'm not saying anyone would actually do that, but it is certainly feasible from a technological point of view.

It has always been possible to gather personal information about someone, if you have sufficient resources. Secret services all over the world do it routinely. The scary part is that such information could soon be available to anyone (large corporations anyway) for a couple of bucks.

Associated credit cards with products? (0, Flamebait)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755357)

Associating credit cards with unique indentifiers that represent a product?! THIS IS SHOCING!

Barcodes are on most products nowadays. Why is this so scary? Because so many of us pay for our purchases with credit or debit cards, which contain our names, addresses, and other sensitive information. Now imagine a store with barcodes embedded in every product. At checkout time, the digital code in each item is associated with our credit card data. From now on, that particular pair of shoes or carton of cigarettes is associated with you.

Just shocking.... Just shocking...

Re:Associated credit cards with products? (1)

not_a_product_id (604278) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755373)

At checkout time, the digital code in each item is associated with our credit card data

Yeah, when you checkout. Once you leave the shop you will remove the tag and there is no longer any association between you and that pair of boots

Re:Associated credit cards with products? (3, Insightful)

Joakim A (313708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755374)

No, because
Barcodes do not identify the individual item.
Barcodes cannot be remotely scanned without the owner noticing.
Barcodes are usually on the packaging material and not on the product.

Re:Associated credit cards with products? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755405)

poor analogy as the RFID tag identifies a particular product and the bar code only identifies a product line.

A RFID product could potentially always be traced back to you because of this.

Yeah, rivetting subject... (5, Funny)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755359)

but it's always interesting to talk about.

I think you may be confusing RFID with womens beach volleyball.

Re:Yeah, rivetting subject... (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755398)

Eh? When was the last time you talked about women's beach volleyball?

Re:Yeah, rivetting subject... (1)

richy freeway (623503) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755413)

Hmmm, I did mention to a friend that they weren't holding it on our local beach this year. Wasn't exactly a conversation though. :D

Re:Yeah, rivetting subject... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755465)

Answer: Monday October 10, @10:53AM.

I hate to break it to you... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755361)

...but this already happens WITHOUT RFID. I work for a marketing company (who will remain nameless, and hence why I'm posting as an AC) who's work is partly geared toward this sort of work. You go to a store. You pay with a credit card. It stores your CC # (in an undecryptable hash format of course) and what items you bought. It looks for patterns and even gives competitors a chance to gain your marketshare. If Pepsi wants Coke marketshare they can pay us to print a coupon for the guy who buys Coke everytime he goes to the grocery store. We don't need RFID for someone to be monitoring our purchases.

Re:I hate to break it to you... (2, Interesting)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755475)

But now: you go to a store, you pay with cash, and the f**kers can still snoop on your spending habits by scanning the RFID tags in your trash, without even getting their hands dirty.

FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755363)

RFID tags are just barcodes that work in the RF spectrum instead of the light spectrum. They are no more powerful than the barcode on your Mountain Dew. The only difference between RFID and a barcode is that it doesn't require line of sight to read it. RFIDs don't have batteries, processors, memory, or radios in them (otherwise they would cost about $10 each, and have a shelf-life of a couple of weeks). They are antennas which remodulate and encode a tag into RF aimed at them.

They cannot monitor you, record your credit card number, or beam information to the home office. The article is ascribing super voodoo magic to a simple antenna.

I thought this was some kind of tech-savy geek site.

Re:FUD (4, Informative)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755402)

Er...no. The RFID tag can carry a unique code for every individual item, not the same code for every item of that type (as a barcode does). That means YOUR new shirt has a different code to all those others on the rail.

We've been over this before (3, Insightful)

dougman (908) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755366)

Sure - in theory all that's possible. However, when the world's largest retailer (Wal-Mart) will be disabling them at checkout [com.com] you can bet others will follow. The market will take care of itself. Look - people thought barcodes were going to do the same thing and now you wouldn't do without 'em (everything from UPS to all the food in your kitchen).

Personally I would like to have it in some items. Books and DVD's could be quickly added to my delicious library [delicious-monster.com] (currently I scan the barcode), I could manage the inventory in my kitchen much better (which would integrate well with recipe software) and it would be great if I could just put my wine on the racks in my cellar and not have to track it manually.

Take off your tinfoil hat and put on your thinking cap. Let's figure out how to take advantage of a great technology and figure out how to make it safe.

Need a portable tag shredder (4, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755369)

Don't leave that empty pack of smokes at the bar. They'll show up at the crime scene later.

Re:Need a portable tag shredder (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755493)

Does that portable tag shredder erase fingerprints, too, or is that a job for your tin-foil washcloth?

Mistaken Identity! (5, Interesting)

ami-in-hamburg (917802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755375)

Ok, you buy a second hand jacket. I wouldn't, but a lot of people do. The tag has been connected with a child rapist by the FBI. You go to the train station. You get scanned.

Suddenly, 15 FBI agents slam your face into the dirty floor and take you away for questioning in hand cuffs. You submit to a DNA test (no, not like the CSI TV show, it really does take a long time). It will take days if not weeks to prove they got the wrong person !!! In the meantime, there is no way they are going to let you out.

Since perception is reality, you lose your job, your wife, your friends, etc...etc... because you're a deviant child molester. I mean, you must be, the evening news said you're a suspected deviant so it must be true.

Perhaps a little bit extreme for an example but not out of the range of RFID possibility.

Re:Mistaken Identity! (5, Funny)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755443)

>>It will take days if not weeks to prove they got the wrong person !!!>>

Crimety, you're right! If only people would carry their name and photo on a little piece of plastic inside their wallet, with a copy of the same information backed up on a network law enforcement had access to, then we wouldn't have to wait a week to prove our identities! We could just show the card!

Re:Mistaken Identity! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755486)

This whole thread is bullshit! it's based on the nonsense in the original post that said something like "your cc no. will be written to the RFID tag and forever be associated w/ that product." what a load of crap! Do you REALLY think something like that will fly? RFID is a self-broadcasting barcode. it speeds things up b/c an RFID reader can scan a wholebuncha items just by close proximity to the items rather than physically pointing each barcode at a laser. yes RFID tags enable each item to have a unique s/n rather than just the generic UPC code that barcodes allow. if there is anywhere that that unique s/n will be forever ass'd w/ your cc. no. it is in the retailer's Db, NOT on the individual RFID chip itself. Once the retailer has sold you a pair of $12 indonesian shoes why in the hell would they want to maintain the individual s/n for that item? i don't think so. most likely they are only interested in the generic identification that you purchased a size 10, brown, pointy-toe slip on. they will aggregate this info to determine buying PATTERNS in general. that's how they make money. no one is going to be making money by tracking your ratty-assed shoe after it's been to the goodwill store. therefore IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN. you can take the tin-foil hats off now.

Re:Mistaken Identity! (1)

Dominic (3849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755492)

Well it could be like car registration - when you sell something it's up to *you* to register the fact on some sort of Web site or form. I can't see a problem with this, and it means that if someone I sell my car to goes and kills someone with it then it's not my problem.

Question for those engenieers in the room... (1, Redundant)

bogado (25959) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755378)

I believe that law alone is not going to stop abusive aplications of this RFID technology. There will be police interest to investigate who passed throw some place where a crime had happend. There will be the marketing department in every major store, that will want to collect information on whitch places on the mega-store you're spending time on. There will be many people intersted in sliping an RFID without your knowlwdge, stalkers, private investigators, police, anti-terrorist people, terrorists, the list is likely to be endless.

So is there a cheappo way to detect this things reliably? How can one be shure that there isn't a NSA designed ship in that shoe you just bought? Ok, maybe a little too paranoid, but if the technology gets to be used every where, there will be time when a user that is worried will forget to disable one or a few of the RFIDs in his cristmas shopping, or maybe auntie tillie did not disable any of theirs, including your present. How can I know that some item of mine is not broadcasting his presence to anyone who happens to know how to activate the chip?

Re:Question for those engenieers in the room... (1, Funny)

LordFnord (843048) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755467)

> How can one be shure that there isn't a NSA designed ship in that shoe you just bought?

I have just cut my shoes into little pieces with a pair of scissors and a Stanley knife. I can categorically state there is no chip in there, NSA-designed or otherwise.

BTW, does anyone know a good shoe shop? I need to buy a new pair.

every product will be unique? (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755386)

I'm confused, I thought that RFIDs are just a wireless barcode systems with a large address space. Is that address space large enough to give every single thing we purchase for the next century its own MAC address?

Re:every product will be unique? (1)

markus_baertschi (259069) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755450)

Yes the address space is large enough. This is one important point. It allows Walmart to track products individually instead of anonymously (In store 123 we have can 234, 543 and 567 of milk instead of in store 123 we have 3 cans of milk). If you have a product recall or a similar occurrence, this makes finding the items much easier and faster.

The second part is the wireless stuff. This makes scanning stuff easier and faster, you don't have to point a scanner at a barcode any longer. Just having a wireless reader in the vicinity is sufficient.

Markus

Shoplifters have already worked this out (3, Interesting)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755387)

Shoplifters in Manchester, England, put small high-value items into a metal biscuit tin lined with aluminium foil (a bit of overkill there) which is supposed to screen the RFID tags from the sensors by the door. I saw it on a documentary about junkies last week - it's common for the police to find these tins in their houses along with the usual drug paraphernalia.

Re:Shoplifters have already worked this out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755415)

foil lined pockets and bags... no need to mess with small metal tins, just slip it into the pocket and go... if you want to create some confusion while you slip out, just slip a tagged item into the hood of someones jacket and wait for them to set the alarm off

Re:Shoplifters have already worked this out (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755442)

Would like like a biscuit with your tea, Constable.

you'd have to be stupid to trust RFID+people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755393)

The problem starts when there are RFID readers placed throughout a city and you are a person of interest. All your pursuers have to do is scan for the RFID signatures of all the items you own and bingo they know where you are. Also what about RFID cloning? You are walking down the street, someone in an apartment window with a modified RFID reader is sending out a loud SYN signal and your work ID card bounces back the ACK signal and now your id is out there. We live in a world where criminals can setup a similar looking banking website and fool people into giving them their passwords, you really think RFID is going to make things safer?

I can see it now... (1, Funny)

Joakim A (313708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755397)

Dressed like a bum, walking down fifth avenue transmitting RFID codes of the latest Armani and YSL apparel using the new RFID addon to my PDA.. You are so pwned! or something..

Oh, the irony (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755399)

Indeed, Albrecht and McIntyre learned that the phone company BellSouth Corp. had applied for a patent on a system for scanning RFID tags in trash, and using the data to study the shopping patterns of individual consumers.

I seem to remember that, back in the day, a large portion of the information used in phone phreaking was gathered through dumpster diving for internal manuals at Ma Bell. I guess turnabout really is fair play.

RID-RIFD (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755408)

"There are countless applications for RFID, and viewed in isolation, some are downright appealing. It would be nice for the medicine cabinet to send you an e-mail -- ''Time to buy more Viagra." But what if it's also sending that data to consumer marketing companies, eager to bombard you with unwanted advertising? Worse yet, what if they're sending the data to government investigators, or to hackers who've figured out how to break into the system?"

If you need an RFID chip to tell you that you need more Viagra, I mean...why even bother?

What we need is a device to disable all personal privacy intrusions:
RID-RFID - RFID Intelligent Destruction for RFID - An RFID tag disruptor that scans and destroys the electronic configurations to RFID devices. Not recommended for minors and those who need to be reminded to take their Viagra.

caribou (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755410)

...scanning RFID tags in trash...

What's the practical pickup range for a scanner? If the tags indeed become ubiquitous, and immortal by default... it could spur an unprecented data-mining industry, even without a priori personal data. E,g,, just watching how people move through Grand Central Station, or the Midwest, will be fascinating and exploitable.

Re:caribou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755506)

High, if the scanner is correctly isolated from human presence. The more energy you use in the scan, the farther you reach.

Unwanted Advertising? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755418)

Don't they get it? The whole point of trying to track information about the kind of things people want to buy is to take the "unwanted" out of advertising. Do you think that they want annoy you and bombard you with useless information? Of course not, that wastes your time and their money, no one wants that. Sure you should be able to opt out of this kind of service, but it's strange to try to pull some kind of sinister motivation out of it. Obviously, they would sell you the device that monitors your garbage because you want this service. It's not like they're planning on covertly installing these devices in everyones garbage. I mean, is it so hard to understand why someone would want to know when they're out of something and should go buy more?

Re:Unwanted Advertising? (3, Insightful)

tuxette (731067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755456)

I mean, is it so hard to understand why someone would want to know when they're out of something and should go buy more?

I (and lots of others) have no problems remembering to pick up a liter or two of milk on the way home from work, and this is without having to have some chip installed in my refrigerator, recycling bin, garbage can, whatever...

the point (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755446)

the point is, why the fuck should we have to go to all the trouble of frying chips just to stop people aquiring my information without my consent.

Sounds pretty paranoid to me (1)

ChrisRijk (1818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755452)

Seriously, if companies or government agencies were thinking of tracking every piece of good sold, companies that supply the computer hardware/software for all that would be deleriously happy... and the bill would be insane. Just imagine tracking every single good sold every year in just the US - that's like 1 trillion items per year. That's one insane database you're talking about.

Putting readers at store entrances isn't going to be very reliable either. For a start, RFID on clothes isn't going to work very well I think - current tags are pretty big and even if they're shrunk a lot they won't be invisible and wouldn't necessarily survive daily wear and tear. Then there's simply the technical problem of handling multiple people coming in/out of a shop at the same time. RFID vendors are having enough trouble getting RFID to work reliably on the outside of containers coming down a conveyor belt. Putting RFID on each seperate good (instead of just the containers today) is some way away, last I heard.

Besides, if you're THAT worried... you can always pay with cash. And keep all your trash inside until handing it directly over to the bin men. Oh, and don't carry a mobile phone or similarly networked device when you go out. And don't drive a car/similar since the license plate can be read and tracked.

About RFID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755455)

Just a quick though...
US Army has started to incorporate RFID chips in every item... Just to make it quicker to inverntorize anything. (Shipments, crates, lockers...)
All I wonder 'bout is: how long before there is a "cantenna" like reader for these chips, incorporatet perhaps in a sniper scope...
A sniper can now look up the signals, and pick his targest based on age of uniform, and type of gear... (hm, sidearm only, all new fatigues... might just be an officer...)

Re:About RFID (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755525)

Gack, people, for the love of little apples: your uniform doesn't say "I'm a new uniform". Your uniform says "My ID number is 3452859823402034". For the sniper to know 3452859823402034 is a US Army uniform they have to have a satellite uplink or something to the army's inventory system -- and if Osama has on-demand access to the Army's inventory tracking system we're screwed regardless of whether there are RFIDs or not.

This is the same scenario with interception on the street, from your garbage, when walking into a competing store -- without access to the underlying database all RFID gets you is an expensive way to generate poorly randomized numbers.

Chilling effect (4, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755472)

From TFA:
His organization has a code of ethics ... So how about putting these principles into law? ... any regulation "would have a chilling effect that would put us back years"

In other words, the RFID maker claims to have a code of ethics, but doesn't want to be held to that code.
That smells to me like his code of ethics is going straight out of the window the instant it suits him.

Need an RFID targeter/remover (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755487)

It all makes sense now. That's what Trinity was using on Neo in the backseat of the car.

Why are they different than barcodes? (1)

AnonymousYellowBelly (913452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755489)

Are RFIDs always unique? Do they identify a particular product or a particular ITEM? Or are they 'unique' only in batches? If they are not unique to a particular shoe box there's no difference to the current situation if you use a store's fidelity card or pay by credit card. So don't be paranoid about the future and be paranoid NOW. Or like me, pay cash and go on with your life.

Now, I see interesting uses for RFIDs implanted on /. trolls =D Computers could be programmed to zap with 10kV those bastard's genitals anytime they go near a PC, or when they post here.

Mr. Simpson ......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755490)

the RFID proves these Gloves DO belong to you! You bought them at Walmart the day before the murder with your credit card # 1234-5678-9123-4567. Mr. Jury Foreman how does the Jury find? GUILTY!

"false positives"? (1)

tuxette (731067) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755498)

The trackers could be attached to every can of beer in the case, and allow marketers to track the boozing habits of the purchasers.

If I bought a few cases of beer, it doesn't necessarily say anything about my boozing habits. I could very well be a teetotaler who doesn't mind that others drink, and that I'm buying a bunch of beer for a party.

Dating scene (1)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755504)

Come to think of it, it would impact the dating scene some ...
 
(holds up handheld scanner) BZZZT!
(starts channeling Frank N. Furter) What charming UNderwear you have!
 
... well no. All the scanner would really have to do is pop up a total.
 
ca-CHING$$ ... this person is wearing clothes valued at U$ 975.-, is carrying U$ 231.- in cash, and three major credit cards ... all valid ... with a purchase of baby food last week ... WARNING! NEGATIVE DATING MATERIAL! BAIL OUT! NEGATIVE DATING MATERIAL!

Some good sides (1)

Dominic (3849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755518)

A lot of people have privacy concerns, and that's fair enough. However, there is an upside to this system. Think of all the junk that people don't recycle properly or just throw onto the street. Well, now those people can be tracked-down and fined. At last we may see an end to litter and dumped TV sets at the side of the road.

I think the system could work quite well. There needs to be some easy way of registering that you sell something to someone else (who has to authorise the change obviously), or recycling centres and other official disposal agents can transfer items. Otherwise your item can be linked to you and it's your responsibility. If they can do this while satisfying privacy concerns then I'd be 100% behind the scheme.

no need to be paranoid? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755520)

No need to be paranoid? Then why say things like "now imagine..." and talk about going through trash? It's all stuff that could be done, in theory.

So why doesn't this just qualify as paranoia? It's *possible* that my phone at home is bugged, that there is a video camera in my bathroom, and that someone sneaks into my house during the day to put mind controlling substances in my food. But just because something could happen, doesn't mean that it's happening...or even that it's legal (which this wouldn't be). "Paranoia" isn't exempt simply because something is possible...

Being able to trace the buyer is the best feature! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755521)

The best part of RFID tags is that roadside trash can then be scanned and the rotten disgusting litterer can then fined and jailed! I hope they get embedded into everything, including fast food bags, soda cans, and beer bottles AND that they require showing valid ID to purchase everything so that what they do with their trash can be tracked.

Nothing pisses me off more than seeing someone deliberately thow trash out of their car. It should be legal to shoot them on site.

What does the RFID chip store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13755522)

I'm curious. Does the RFID chip store a unique number per chip or is it like a bar code where there's a number per product?

The reason why I ask is if I buy something in shop A with an RFID chip in, then go into shop B that happens to sell the same item, will the security people in shop B try to stop me as I exit, telling me I haven't paid for said item?

If it's a unique number per chip, how can shop B gain any information from me walking in and out of their shop other than I bought an item with tag AABE1234AF? They won't know what shop A associated that tag with.

Just how stupid people are here... (1)

msormune (808119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13755530)

Uhhh...so every trash in YOUR OWN FUCKING TRASH CAN may have a rfid chip associated to you? On a side note, why would I care about this? I pay virtually everything with plastic. So just about everything I buy already leaves a trace. I don't even care about that, and I doubt no ordinary person does. I guess we don't live in constant fear.
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