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Embedded Microchips In Virtually Everything

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the minority-report-by-other-means dept.

Privacy 186

Microsoft CRM recommends a long AP article laying out the nightmare scenario of RFID chips in everything tracking not only things but people. The darker possibilities of a technology capable of enabling ubiquitous surveillance are not news to this community, but it's not so common to see them spelled out for a wider audience. "Microchips with antennas embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement to track consumer items and consumers wherever they go. Much of the radio frequency identification technology that enables objects and people to be tagged and tracked wirelessly already exists and potentially intrusive uses of it are being patented, perfected and deployed... [A director at FTI Consulting] said:] 'It's going to be used in unintended ways by third parties — not just the government, but private investigators, marketers, lawyers building a case against you.'"

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Ok, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197972)

So what do you do about it when this starts happening?
How do you put the genie back in the bottle? Live in the hills?

Re:Ok, (5, Funny)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197992)

Tinfoil hats.
Do you think we wear them because they look cool?

Re:Ok, (0, Troll)

MonsterOfTheLake (880659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198160)

It keeps your head warm.

While you're fucking your girlfriend in the ass and then a fuckload of ninjas show up and you have to kick their ass with your gigantic cock!

(Shamelessly stolen from TLGMedia's "A New Bunny")

Re:Ok, (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198558)

Yeah, well, just remember to pull out the microchip(s) before you put it on.

Re:Ok, (0, Offtopic)

sykopomp (1133507) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198688)

I have a friend that uses his passport as his main ID. He showed it to me once: He keeps it wrapped in a couple of layers of tinfoil. It's one of those newfangled RFID passports :P

Re:Ok, (3, Funny)

Kenz0r (900338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198926)

I have a friend that uses his passport as his main ID. He showed it to me once: He keeps it wrapped in a couple of layers of tinfoil. It's one of those newfangled RFID passports :P
Check out the RFID Blocking Passport Billfold at ThinkGeek: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/security/910f/ [thinkgeek.com]

Now you can be paranoid with style!

Re:Ok, (1)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198858)

Oh no...

  tesla coils, and/or microwave ovens and/or RFID-Zapper [events.ccc.de] .

Let the fun and sparks begin :)

Re:Ok, (0)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198004)

Learn to code, how to defeat the technology, how to be smarter then the "smart" devices. All this stuff isn't so scary once you learn how it works and how to disable it.

Re:Ok, (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198058)

Learn to code, how to defeat the technology, how to be smarter then the "smart" devices. All this stuff isn't so scary once you learn how it works and how to disable it.

Yeah, sticking RFID encrusted stuff in the microwave is so very hard.

Maybe you should write up a "RFID for Dummies" book.

Profit!

Re:Ok, (2, Insightful)

theoverlay (1208084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198096)

I agree that rfid is not so scary if you know the details of the implementations. There are many systems already implemented that are a lot tougher to circumvent than these things. The recent Dutch $2B transit system [hitekhome.info] is a great example although I know this article is referring to somewhat different usage scenarios. The knowledge is power as always. http://infiniteadmin.com/ [infiniteadmin.com]

Re:Ok, (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198770)

Yeah, sticking RFID encrusted stuff in the microwave is so very hard.

Doing that to disable the RFID chip in something like an iPod or a cellphone would tend to disable more then just the RFID chip.

Re:Ok, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198282)

The smart thing to do is akknowledge you can't control this. Sure you can microwave the tags YOU CAN SEE. You want to disable them? Do what shoplifters do.Put them in tin foil bags. LOL

Re:Ok, (1)

sankekur (998708) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198026)

tinfoil body suit

Class division (3, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197984)

I expect that all the new "smart devices" will create a class division within developed countries, those who can program and those who can't. We already have part of it with Best Buy and other computer retailers trying to sell you at least $300 in extra hardware/software/support even though you don't need it yet the uninformed take the bait and end up spending money they don't need. Also, the same thing is happening with computer repair and support, if you don't know whats wrong tech support is more than willing to test every combination and then charge you for the privilege of fixing it along with any other thing that /might/ be wrong.

Re:Class division (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198090)

I think eventually it's going to flatten out. The reason is because the human mind can only do so much. I think we are nearing or maybe already past the point where the average person is expected to know too much and things start to break down.

At some point technology is going to need to make a serious shift into to making itself more manageable to the common person. Eventually even the geeks won't be able to manage all the technical information. There's just too much of it.

Re:Class division (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198220)

Clearly not all, but maybe we can get some evolutionary pressure to become smarter. If the average person isn't smart enough to handle day to day life, then the average person will need to become smarter.

Re:Class division (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198092)

I don't see how that translates into a new class division. What you describe is the benefit of being proficient in any field. Likewise, a mechanic could take me for a ride while someone who knows cars won't be so easily fooled. A doctor (or nurse) would be prevent themselves being taken by another health care provider (when they go to the doctor)....

Re:Class division (2, Insightful)

Cosmic AC (1094985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198546)

But computing is pervasive. In the future, more and more things will be controlled by software, rather than by cars or doctors.

Re:Class division (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198110)

>Also, the same thing is happening with computer repair and support, if you don't know whats wrong tech support is more than willing to test every combination and then charge you for the privilege of fixing it along with any other thing that /might/ be wrong.

This is different from cars... how?

If you come in with an unusual problem (outside of simple stuff like "timing belt", "spark plugs", "oil"), and give them a vague description like "Oh, well, you know, I was just driving it and now, well, it doesn't 'go'" and when you're asked "What kind of car do you drive?", you say "Uhhh, a black one", and when asked "Did you try starting it?", you say "Oh, I should do that? I just left it running, it's outside my house right now.", "Have you ever changed the oil?" -- "It needs *THAT*? WTF?!? I want a car, not an oil slick!"

Yeah, you're going to be billed up the ass for the issue then, since the tech has to spend 2 extra hours doing the stuff YOU are supposed to figure out on your own as a car owner (Like brining the car there, what brand of car it is, how old it is, if the oil's been changed, etc, etc).

Be assured, I work tech support, this is about the equivalent of what I get. Yesterday, I had a customer write down Start -> Email because they couldn't remember that's how to get to their email (dead serious). This is normal, and quite honestly, I've had customers who find doing something as simple as that incredibly difficult.

Re:Class division (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198914)

That's nothing new. It happened with cars, washing machines, and I bet horses in the olden days... People will always make use of the ignorance of others. That 'class division' always existed for all things that need maintenance by a professional.

What circumstantial means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198000)

All this means is we'll have to fix the courts so they follow their own laws and stop sending people to jail on coincedental evidence.

Fuzz Busters.. (5, Insightful)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198036)

As soon as RFID chips start appearing in all of our items, the market for devices that destroy them without damaging the article itself will very quickly materialize. Honestly, if I can figure out how to destroy them easily, I may be in on that market.

And then they'll make tougher RFID chips, and we'll make tougher devices to kill them. And this war will escalate just like the Radar vs Radar Detector arms race. What are the cops using now? Negatively modulated phased arrays doppler assisted with frequency hopping? Exactly.

Aero

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (1)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198112)

And then they'll make tougher RFID chips, and we'll make tougher devices to kill them. And this war will escalate just like the Radar vs Radar Detector arms race. What are the cops using now? Negatively modulated phased arrays doppler assisted with frequency hopping? Exactly.
This is fine in the principle of large devices for a small target group. But if you have to make the change across the entire retail/government/other sector to read and use these chips AND the cost goes up proportionally then at some point the war -could- be won. Or, like shoplifting, the costs^W savings can be passed on to consumers.

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198138)

if someone decides to give you those devices or the parts to make them or the information needed.Radar detector is one thing .Can you get a radar jammer?No you're not allowed to have one .I assume a smart guy likee you has made one anyway.

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (1)

theoverlay (1208084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198382)

How many cops actually know what they're using? I see there being more of a market for competitors to use each other's rfid implementations against them (as in espionage and sabotage) rather than a market for flat out destruction of devices. http://infiniteadmin.com/ [infiniteadmin.com]

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198442)

the market for devices that destroy them without damaging the article itself will very quickly materialize.
And if it doesn't, I'm buying stock in hammers.

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22199184)

Although disabling the RFID tags might help, it might not do much good. If only one percent of the population consistently disables all of the RFID tags they carry then it will be relatively easy to just correlate the sensor detections of people who don't have any readable tags. That probably wouldn't work on the side walks of New York City, but on roads or less heavily used side walks you could probably still be tracked. Also if you're one of the few with no tags then you might get some extra scrutiny. Also tags might be set to remain silent for the first 100 scans or so and then activate only occasionally to defeat your attempts to find and destroy them.

Re:Fuzz Busters.. (1)

iJusten (1198359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22199278)

I don't know much about how RFIDs work, but I would hazard a guess a quick run thru the microwave should do the trick...particularly if we are talking about clothes and not gadgets.

FUD (4, Insightful)

JRHelgeson (576325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198044)

The RFID chips have a transmission range of 3cm, thats one freakin' inch. If you have a large antenna, you can get 30cm range (1 foot).
Half the people I know use a key card to access/unlock doors at work. Those things have an RFID chip in them. How close do you have to hold those up to the reader? Yup, 3cm.

If you had a 6' satellite dish mounted on the back of a truck, you could theoretically blast out a signal strong enough to activate the RFID receiver and get it to reflect back a signal to the dish, but the weakness of the return signal is so minute that you still would not be able to hear the return signal past 10' away.

Sorry, but does the government really care if you have any more "hot pockets" in your freezer? These articles are more about scare tactics than reality.

Now, a concern that has been brought up is programmable RFID chips. If your can of Campbell's Tomato soup had a programmable RFID tag then a customer could program it with self replicating code and place it back on the shelf. Then, when the store took inventory and scanned the shelf, the "infected" can of soup would receive the energy pulse and reply not with the information the reader is looking for, but with a reprogramming signal that would "reprogram" the cans of soup around it with the self replicating code. Could you imagine a whole WalMart being quarantined due to an RFID worm outbreak?

It isn't really possible, the return signal from an RFID chip isn't even strong enough to power up an RFID chip next to it, but it is nevertheless fun to think about.

Read my /. journal article on RFID chips and the need to adopt them.

Joel Helgeson

Re:FUD (1)

hobbesmaster (592205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198178)

Wouldn't you burn out the RFID chip before you could read at more than a few feet? The wires used for the passive antennas in cheap RFIDs cannot take much current.

Re:FUD and not so FUD (5, Insightful)

erexx23 (935832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198210)

I have read that passive tags can be read from 1 inch to 40 feet.
And Active tags can be read up to a mile or more.

The range all has to do with cost and need.
With all tech reducing cost is only a matter of scale and time.

As with all things its also only a matter of time before malevolent use any tool or technology occurs.

So while I agree that Orwellian references to RFID technology are certainly overblown,
Dismissing the need for caution and prudence with any technology can only lead to big problems in the long run.

As you pointed out so well a soup can worm could shut the doors on a supermarket.
I think that this is a simple example of what could be the tip of a greater iceberg once truely talented indiviuals
start taking advantage of an embedded technology that is only bound to evolve.
Once it become part of the system it will be hard to get rid of.

Re:FUD and not so FUD (1)

hobbesmaster (592205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198260)

What kind of passive tags can you read at 40 feet?

Re:FUD and not so FUD (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198378)

A cheap passive tag bonded to a capacitor and an antenna could burst back a signal far away. Never underestimate cheap.

Re:FUD and not so FUD (1)

hobbesmaster (592205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198448)

So, how are you going to integrate this package into a electronic product code for say, a T-shirt or on a soup can? As distance increases you start talking about needing to store larger amounts of energy before you can send it back, which means a higher capacitance. You'll quickly get to electrolytic can packages. The fear in the article is that you'll be tracked based on these items, which means that the rfid has to be small enough to be unobtrusively left in many items on your person. The type of RFIDs that are best for these uses are tiny, flexible, and thus are not capable of "replying" with much energy, hence the very limited ranges.

Re:FUD (0, Troll)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198342)

Hrm. Your post is intelligent, well thought out, and rational.

U MUST B 1 OF DEM!!!!!11!

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198384)

So like every time you walk through a (security) door the rfid chip will not be read?
I thought passive rfid chips especially for the purpose of tracking are already wide spread in shops? Or is that another beast?

Re:FUD (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198432)

No kidding, they're freakin' barcodes! I've used a RFID chip to get into my workplace every day for the last 3 years and it's not giving me cancer and I'm not being trailed by men in black. It's cheaper for the company than hiring a security guard on all 14 floors, and it's handier for me to be able to get into work after hours. It's not some satan technology from hell to enslave us all, it's a fricken' barcode.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198476)

Only the older generation tags have a 3cm range. The modern ones are reliable at 8 feet or more. A high power reader with a very focussed antenna could very easily do 20 feet or better.

The good news is those same tags should be "killed" when purchased and it is very easy for the owner of an object to find out if that object has a tag that was not killed in it.

That said, I haven't found a way to reliably destroy a tag that most consumer items would survive.

Re:FUD (5, Informative)

Sparky McGruff (747313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198516)

Okay, so your one example is that one type of RFID works at about an inch. And you imply that this is the only type of RFID that anyone is concerned with.

So, how the hell is that useful for Wal-Mart, in tagging pallets? Having done inventory in a warehouse before in my mis-spent youth, I can tell you that on a pallet (wrapped in shrink wrap, stacked three high), an RFID tag that only read at one inch (or even six inches) would be completely useless. Pretty much the same usefulness as a bar-code sticker, or a metal tag with an embossed number. Those Wal-mart people must be morons to insist that their suppliers include tags on shipping pallets that cant be read from more than an inch away.

But, since you insist, there must not be any other kind of RFID. I'll go edit the wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] now. It's obviously written by a conspiracy nut.

Passive tags have practical read distances ranging from about 10 cm (4 in.) (ISO 14443) up to a few meters (Electronic Product Code (EPC) and ISO 18000-6), depending on the chosen radio frequency and antenna design/size. Due to their simplicity in design they are also suitable for manufacture with a printing process for the antennas. The lack of an onboard power supply means that the device can be quite small: commercially available products exist that can be embedded in a sticker, or under the skin in the case of low frequency RFID tags.

Re:FUD (1)

El Royo (907295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198680)

Actually, the Gen 2 RFID tags that will be in use by retailers have an ideal range of around 25-30'. With special equipment you can read even farther. Also, RFID tags typically only store data so your worm scenario is entirely unlikely. RFID tags that retailers typically use store only RFID equivalent of a bar-coded UPC. It would take a very poorly written program to take data off an RFID tag and 'run' it. Not to say this can't happen (see SQL injection) but it's so unlikely.

There was an article that was posted with a 'proof of concept' RFID virus. Totally bogus from the outset. They wrote a program that used RFID in non-standard ways, then programmed a non-standard RFID tag that their non-standard program read and then executed the tag information.

Also, in response to an earlier poster the Gen 2 RFID tags already have a built-in kill switch. You can send a command to the tags that will deactivate them. So, coming up with complicated schemes for destroying RFID tags is a bit overblown. Also, I've been led to believe that a couple seconds in the microwave will also deactivate them.

I'm a little dismayed about the fearmongering surrounding RFID. I do think that the implications of technology that can conceivably be used to track people need to be discussed but I think it is possible to do it without being a sensationalist.

Re:FUD (2, Informative)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198768)

Half the people I know use a key card to access/unlock doors at work. Those things have an RFID chip in them. How close do you have to hold those up to the reader? Yup, 3cm.

We must have had RFID-enabled employee badges/pass cards on steroids then. The aircraft service facility I worked at used them, and were required to enter not only the main employee entrance, but also to access doors to various departments. The doors would unlock when someone with an authorized pass/badge would walk within a couple feet.

You could just barely avoid having the doors along a hallway unlock as you passed if you walked along the far wall of the hallway, which would've been about 6 feet. The sensor pads were next to each door. All day long you'd hear "bzzzt...click" as people walked past the door to your department. Annoying at first until one learned to tune it out.

I think the range depends more on the size of the RFID interrogation transceivers' antenna and the sensitivity of the receiver part of the transceivers' front-end (the first signal amplifying stages right after the antenna).

I could easily imagine the tech built into innocuous things like lampposts, store/shop doors, roads and streets, etc. to be able to track an individuals' movements within a city. The range here would only need to be a couple feet, and you wouldn't need to trip a reading on every reader, only a few would still give a basic travel pattern.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:FUD (1)

dacut (243842) | more than 6 years ago | (#22199240)

We must have had RFID-enabled employee badges/pass cards on steroids then. [...] You could just barely avoid having the doors along a hallway unlock as you passed if you walked along the far wall of the hallway, which would've been about 6 feet.

There are older technologies which used large (inches in diameter and tens or hundreds of windings; these are large compared to the millimeter-sized RFID tags being talked about today) inductive coils to both power and communicate with a chip embedded in a card. I had one to enter an office building at a startup in the 90s.

The technology and protocols used are quite different between the two. With the old ones, you couldn't easily have multiple tags present -- the reader would get hopelessly confused trying to decode the interfering signals. The new inventory tracking RFID tags, however, rely on the reader to interrogate tags; it only looks for an "I'm here" signal from any tag as it progressively decodes more bits. There are some interesting exploits for this weakness; my favorite is Rivest's technique which sends the "I'm here" signal for every possible pattern requested by the reader, causing it try to interrogate the entire id space -- a bit like trying to brute force an encryption algorithm.

I call BS on Joel (1)

Terri416 (131871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198874)

You can buy a long range reader TODAY from http://www.iautomate.com/r500sp.html [iautomate.com] for $499.

Range 450 FEET. Note the bit in the web page about tracking PEOPLE.

Check it out. It can be buried in walls and is handy-dandy small. Size 3.3in x 1.6in x 0.7in; weight 1.6 oz. Power requirement 12VDC - 14.5VDC, ±30mA -- it'll run off batteries, no problem.

Let's see .. an eeepc, one of these and you have a very portable long range sniffer hidden in a briefcase.

Google is your friend .. unless you're astroturfing.

Re:FUD (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198976)

The RFID chips have a transmission range of 3cm, thats one freakin' inch. If you have a large antenna, you can get 30cm range (1 foot).

Antenna strip under doormat, RFID tag in shoes from store, feet barely lift off ground when walking, easy tracking.

Re:FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22199216)

"If you had a 6' satellite dish mounted on the back of a truck, you could theoretically blast out a signal strong enough to activate the RFID receiver and get it to reflect back a signal to the dish, but the weakness of the return signal is so minute that you still would not be able to hear the return signal past 10' away."

  i love the way make an evolving (read:all) technology static....the chap above whom wrote about an escalating arms race was on the money.... somebody, someday, maybe even a guy like you or me, will figure out just how to put this massive array of parabolic transceivers onto a handy wallet-sized doo-hickey, thus begin the cycle, and in the mean time, the consumer (maybe a guy like you or me) gets screwed by the evol fraudsters/Kazakhstani mafioso/script-kiddy/clueless & greedy corporation until the "latest" tech comes about to counter-act the bad guys(tm) technology(r).
if there's one thing i've noticed over the 25 years of tinkering with technology - if there is a buck in it somewhere in the process, somebody with the inclination and motivation will want that buck they don't desrve. the crimes haven't evolved, the technology to facilitate that crime has no option than to be invented.

sometimes, in the case of the script-kiddy/infosec researcher, it's just a desire to break things and learn that is the undoing...

have a nice day :)

vote with your wallet (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198052)

I won't buy anything that tracks me, just like i refuse to purchase software the requires it to phone home.

Cell Phone = tracking device (5, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198248)

If you own a cell phone and often carry it with you everywhere you go, you can be tracked. You can even be tracked with your phone turned off. The government has been asking to track people even without sufficient probably cause(and probably doing it illegally since we know about it).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/22/AR2007112201444.html?hpid=topnews [washingtonpost.com]

I believe this was mandated in the 1996 Telecommunications Act for all cellular devices and has been implemented long since.

Re:Cell Phone = tracking device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198466)

Anecdotally, my wife claims that she was in a hurry and obviously speeding when a police car passed her going the opposite direction. She claims that her cell phone boomed out the voice of the police officer ordering her to slow down. You have no idea how happy I am to welcome my wife to the tinfoil hat club.

Re:Cell Phone = tracking device (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198820)

Audio hallucinations are a sign of schizophrenia.

You can't track a cell-phone that is off (2, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198468)

They can't track your phone when it's off. It can't be tracked if it's not emitting a radio signal. Maybe you think off means something other than off?

Re:You can't track a cell-phone that is off (2, Insightful)

novakyu (636495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198534)

They can't track your phone when it's off. It can't be tracked if it's not emitting a radio signal. Maybe you think off means something other than off?
However, they can make it very difficult to turn our phone REALLY OFF. I assume you already know the story about roaming data charge on iPhone [boingboing.net] (which may or may not have been entirely the user's fault). Assuming we can put any stock in anecdote, I had a similar experience with my RAZR (yeah, behind the times, lame):

I had an important meeting with my boss and a few colleagues, so I turned my RAZR off before the meeting. I usually have a bunch of alarms and reminders that go off every couple hours or so. Well, guess what---even though the phone was "off" (as in when you flip the phone on, it doesn't show anything and you can't make an outgoing call (I don't know about incoming call) without pushing the power button for a few seconds), it came back on by itself to blare off a reminder that I had set months ago.

If a phone that's supposedly "off" can do that, why do you think they can't make it so that they can still track you while the phone is "off"? Monitoring battery usage isn't exactly an exact science, and not everyone has access to electronics that can tune to GHz signals that cell phones use (and good luck discriminating it against background noise). For now, we can remove the battery to be doubly sure, but what stops them from installing a "backup battery" that can't be removed short of de-soldering connections?

Re:You can't track a cell-phone that is off (1)

novakyu (636495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198572)

I assume you already know the story about roaming data charge on iPhone (which may or may not have been entirely the user's fault).
Oops. Wrong story. This [newsday.com] is the one I was thinking of.

Re:You can't track a cell-phone that is off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198708)

Just wrap your phone in aluminum foil if you want to make sure not to be tracked while it's "off". Cell phones use microwave frequencies which are easily blocked by metal. Since you've already turned it off, you're clearly not worried about receiving incoming calls.

Re:You can't track a cell-phone that is off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198918)

So is that why the CIA issued a mandate that cell phones were not allowed in secure areas unless you physically removed the battery. The mandate specifically stated that a phone that appeared to be powered off could still be eavesdropped on. Somehow I think they might have an inside scoop on using someones cell phone against them.

Re:You can't track a cell-phone that is off (2)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22199040)

But remember it is a soft switch. There's nothing stopping it from just pretending to be off.

Re:Cell Phone = tracking device (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198494)

if the device is powered off, they can't track you since it can't emit a signal. case closed thanks for playing.

Re:Cell Phone = tracking device (2, Interesting)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198672)

Incorrect. I respectfully beg to differ.
If the wireless device is powered off, if its is battery is removed, and if it is placed *inside a closed Faraday Cage*, would I then agree it can't emit a signal.
Besides, What makes you think that similar techniques to RFID passive pinging reply signals are not already used in current/future cellular devices with their much higher gain omnidirectional transceiver antennas?
Even without the main battery, these devices contain efficient capacitors with stored current and many others have small lithium backup batteries.
There are also other methods of producing a unique identifier reply signal from a timed transmitted volley of tower triangulation "pings".

There was a very real reason for Gene Hackman's character "Brill" to place the cell phone (and other items) belonging to Will Smith's character "Robert Dean" inside a mylar potato chip bag in certain a scene from the movie "Enemy of The State". This was a impromptu very poor man's Faraday Cage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage [wikipedia.org]
NOTE: "Enemy of The State" came out a decade ago in 1998, what does a decade's worth of technological advancements bring us on this topic?

Re:vote with your wallet (2, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198380)

Voting with your wallet is effective only when a large number of people do it. Take Walmart for example - you can easily find lots of people who claim a Walmart has ruined their neighborhood, but as long as thousands of others hand over their cash to get the cheaper goods on offer it doesn't make any difference. If you suffer for your cause, but your suffering has no impact, why make yourself suffer?

RFID is poised to go this way - I don't like it either, but unless it's widely rejected a handful of people protesting it won't make the difference. The best plan for RFID proponents is to make it so widespread so quickly that you have no option but to buy essential goods that are RFID tagged, and once you start doing that, why avoid some goods and not others?

Re:vote with your wallet (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198474)

thats the same mentality that's got your country all messed up with a 2 party polical system - "why bother i can't make an impact no matter how i vote". you all need to stop that nonsense thinking and realise you DO make an impact no matter how small.

Re:vote with your wallet (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198596)

thats the same mentality that's got your country all messed up with a 2 party polical system
I assume you are implying that I am an American. You sir, would be incorrect.

Re:vote with your wallet (2, Insightful)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198514)

If you suffer for your cause, but your suffering has no impact, why make yourself suffer?
I would suffer because it makes a difference to me. This is why the US is sliding into the crap-hole, its because everyone shrugs and says "Well that's just the way it is." Fuck that. And if you are going to be one of those people who doesn't stand up for themselves, well fuck you too. By giving up like that you just made it harder for anyone who does give a damn.

Re:vote with your wallet (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198622)

Oh, I give a damn. I don't use a credit card, I pay cash for almost everything.

At the same time I walk around all day with a cell-phone in my pocket and I expect most everyone here does also. You already know the US government is listening to all of your calls, what makes you think they're not tracking your location and who you associate with also? But you don't disconnect the battery from your cell phone when you're not making calls, do you? Well there you go, you aren't standing up for your privacy!

My point was not that you shouldn't stand up for yourself, it is that there are cases when you don't have a choice, and that if RFID becomes too widespread too quickly none of us may have a realistic choice.

Privacy Already Gone? (3, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198054)

RFID and related technologies will only continue to push us down the path we are already on. There are cameras all the place, we constantly give up our addresses and credit card numbers, and even our grocery discount cards are tracking our purchases. This isn't going to slow down or let up. The trick will be to understand and govern what is in place, not necessarily slow down the technology changes we're seeing.

There's little in the way of choice left regarding the use of this technology. It's too pervasive, in more sense than one.

Over here! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198066)

You can effectively already be tracked via cellphones, electronic transactions, and all the cameras out there, both public and private. Not to mention al the people who see you.

Re:Over here! (5, Funny)

quonsar (61695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198094)

I demand my constitutional right to invisibility!

Will it be a hard sell or a soft sell? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198086)

In light of the obviously undesireable implications of having every detail available to any spook with a scanner, I imagine that we'll start seeing systems designed to detect and neutralize the tags. Given that they are designed to respond to scans they shouldn't be too hard to ferret out(until the RFID equivalent of port knocking comes out, of course). Presumably a variety of little arms races will be kicked off, between the cypherpunks and the feds, the counterfeiters and the corporations, etc.

The more interesting question, though, is what the reaction will look like on a social scale. Will RFID tags be routinely removed at point of sale, the way dye tags are, or will they be aggressively integrated into products in an effort to make them tamperproof? Will people at large see neutralizing RFID tags in items you own as a common, sensible, precaution, like shredding important documents, or will that be seen as the sort of thing that only hackers, criminals, and other shady characters would do?

It will also be interesting to see what sorts of uses the vast amount of ambient information will be put to. Obviously, the usual surveillance and marketing stuff will be pretty thick on the ground; but there might be some rather more curious things as well. I can just imagine the horde of social networking gimmicks that will spring up around the ability to detect the consumer goods carried by those around you. It'll be just like Zune Squirting; but ubiquitous!(Does anybody else miss the days when the future was going to have flying cars and robots?)

Re:Will it be a hard sell or a soft sell? (2, Informative)

Fishead (658061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198244)

I don't know too much about RFID, but I thought the deal was that it is encrypted so that the chip only responds if the code transmitted is correct. Much like my car alarm. This makes it more difficult to "sniff" hidden chips.

As far as removing the unwanted RFID chip, if the RFID transducer is fabricated on top of a PIC microcontroller, and the microcontroller has no added external markings, everything that has a microcontroller could have a hidden RFID chip. This means your key fob for your car, your USB memory stick, your cell phone, your digital camera your... anything with a microcontroller could contain a very non-removable RFID device. Reading the chip IS limited to a few inches, but airports could find this a useful way to track travellers when they put your cell phone through the x-ray. Sorta like an extra passport you didn't know you were carrying?

 

Re:Will it be a hard sell or a soft sell? (1)

Alexx K (1167919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198396)

Will people at large see neutralizing RFID tags in items you own as a common, sensible, precaution, like shredding important documents, or will that be seen as the sort of thing that only hackers, criminals, and other shady characters would do?

Well, knowing the government, I'd say they'll be paid to start up their propaganda machines and convince people that consumers who remove RFID chips are terrorists wishing to hide from the law. A fine and jail sentence will also be handed down to those who are discovered with RFID-less devices.

Of course, I could just be paranoid. You be the judge.

secure facilities (defense contractors, etc) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198124)

Wonder how secure facilities - the ones that won't let you bring in a camera phone or phone at all, and demand a list of all the non-volatile memories in the product you are selling - will handle this.

As that ultimately goes back to the feds, it's possible that the government, with it's own bean-counting directives towards COTS technology, may ultimately provide some kind of limit on what kinds of feature-bug "extras" are including in products.

Can anyone here actually pay attention? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198186)

These things have a read distance of 3 FREAKING CENTIMETERS!
For the metric impaired 3 centimeters = 1.18110236 inches

The only way "they" will be able to track you with RFID is to
PHYSICALLY FOLLOW YOU AROUND HOLDING A READER AN INCH FROM YOUR ASS!!!!
You will LIKELY notice this behavior.

Now, if you wish to be concerned about "them" tracking you, check out
your CELLPHONE. The CELLPHONE PROVIDERS ALREADY keep location records on EVERY PHONE
for at least 60 days "Just In Case". They have no actual business reason to keep those
records, They just do.

How about being concerned about a real threat instead of a stupid made up one?

GGAAAHH!

Re:Can anyone here actually pay attention? (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198234)

I don't know...

I have a pretty big ass.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination. (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198262)

Hmm. How about the threat that there will be RFID tags that are designed to store data every time they're hit by a reader? That doesn't sound that bad, until you start seeing areas that are periodically flooded with reader signals. Now the tag is starting to build up a timestamped list of locations. Now someone brushes up against you on the sidewalk or in a subway, and your tag gives them all the information.

Huh, looks like they don't have to follow you around with a reader an inch away from your ass. Imagine that.

Re:Can anyone here actually pay attention? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198484)

just like global warming. the real threat to our environment comes from deforestation and over fishing, yet everyone is focused on global warming even though it's a total crock of shit.

Re:Can anyone here actually pay attention? (1)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198872)

But at least we know that AT&T won't do anything bad with that information, right?

Re:Can anyone here actually pay attention? (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198956)

Quit shouting, it makes you look like a freaking idiot. Try reading http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/ng.asp?id=52356-long-distance-rfid [foodproductiondaily.com] , and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID [wikipedia.org] for starters. Or google and find the article when a guy build an rfid sniffer that could eavesdrop on an rfid exchange between a reader and chip from 30-meters away. It's not as implausible as you make it sound.

Why bother putting cameras on all the street corners and deal with face recognition software to track people, like England? It's easier to put rfid readers on all the street corners and record all the rfid tags. The credit card companies are starting to put rfid in the credit cards and those would be damn easy to track or copy if you're a thief. Or similar to http cookies, notice the combination of size 11 purple nikes, walmart brand socks, size large fruit of the loom mini-briefs, and trojan condoms in the wallet passing by the scanner.

Meggy Simpson... (0)

drolli (522659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198196)

Now i know how the Cashier scans Meggy without a bar code.

Re:Meggy Simpson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198268)

it's Maggy you insensitive clod, and $847.63 was apparently the esimated average cost of raising a child in 1989 for one month.

Re:Meggy Simpson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198406)

It is Maggie, you insensitive clod!

Sounds pretty scary... (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198224)

Fortunately I have a disguise.

We'll be the ones installing it (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198308)

ubiquitous surveillance are not news to this community

Because a lot us are the ones installing those applications. Some suit with a genius idea will burst in and ask, "Hey, can you install that tracker....thing...what do we need to track our employees?" And they'll want the weekly report in two different formats and ad hoc custom reports, which they'll ask for at 4 pm on Friday afternoon and want you to send them on their Treo.

The smart ones here will make millions selling counter-measures and running wild weasel missions for our clients.

And still no one here will be able to use all that technology to get a date with a real woman.

Microwave (1)

baomike (143457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198314)

does this mean I have to microwave my cloths?

Re:Microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198508)

2 of the biggest misspelled words on slashdot are cloths/CLOTHES and payed/PAID.

I payed for my cloths with a freakin' Mastercard buddy!

Do we even have a Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198414)

Micro-chipping people, yet another infringement on our rights by the gov't. Add it to the ever-growing list of violations:
They violate the 1st Amendment by opening mail, caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't.
Support Dr. Ron Paul and save this great country.
Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title):
America Deceived (book) [iuniverse.com]

Erasers for Everyone (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198416)

Privacy advocates could do a lot of good just giving away RFID erasers for everyone. Not everything with RFID embedded will survive zapping in a microwave.

Sponsor dry cleaners and laundromats to "debug" clothes with RFID found and erased, and give the customers the report.

I could see a great public demo of an RFID reader out in a park or at a busy intersection with a big display superimposing the tag#s over video of the people on whom they're riding. With an eraser and some pamphlets. In fact, that setup could probably sell enough erasers to finance giving away lots more.

Easily blocked (2, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198456)

RFID tags transmit incredibly weak signals. The only power available to them is what the tiny antenna can convert from RF transmitted by the reader. A simple battery-operated transmitter operating at the same output frequency(ies) as the tags can easily interfere with the RFID tags transmission making it impossible for the reader to decode its signal.

Also, reading the tags is really easy (and cheap). I bought a reader for $50 that uses a simple serial interface. I connected it to a PIC microcontroller, wrote some relatively simple software for it, and output IrDA via an IR LED so I can display the data on a Pocket PC.

Dan East

Sure, lets just help Skynet (1)

CycoChuck (102607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198480)

Lets all put tracking chips in us so its easier for Terminators to track us down and kill us after Judgment Day.

the legality... (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198486)

[A director at FTI Consulting] said:] 'It's going to be used in unintended ways by third parties -- not just the government, but private investigators, marketers, lawyers building a case against you.


OK, so a lawyer is going to try and use it against me. Even after all the crap that gets through the legal system (ahem, OJ), I still have faith that the majority of that which is referenced above, would be construed as unlawfully obtained/entrapment/whatever. Especially at the highest court - there's smarter people than you or I there. Agendas perhaps, but the majority have common sense and understand the constitution better than you or I. Note I said majority. That's key.

inch=mile (1)

tomb'67 (1176217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198506)

China invented gunpowder=Hiroshima. Look right, look left, but mostly, look out! I have seen us get used to all kinds of evil. Where do they get those Blackwater kids?

Re:inch=mile (1)

lotrfan7007 (893944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198570)

I suppose it would be useless to tell you that Hiroshima is in Japan.

They're everywhere... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198532)

I found microchips in the bottom of a bag of Doritos!

They are also commonly used as an anti-caking agent in powdered drinks.

RFID chips last 2 seconds in a Microwave Oven... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198538)

...let alone the fury of a 10 second Microwave Oven Massage (MOM).
No RFID, nor like device will ever survive a MOM episode.
Nothing to worry about at all, that is, until after you nuke them! ...and there is allways the 60 minute defrost setting... 8-D

Abusive people already doing this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198548)

I know a girl who recently had an operation to remove a chip put in her hand by an abusive ex partner. People are already doing this stuff, it's just hidden.

Posted anon to protect her privacy.

Faraday Suit (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198654)

I hear metalized mylar is the latest thing in fashion!

Exploit basic weaknesses of the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198710)

So, it looks as if 'they' will be steaming ahead with the tagging of
everything/everyone possible, under the usual commercial interest BS.
If you're against this, the only option available is to legally 'mess'
with the system as much as possible, using any weakness you can find.
(That is, until they make it illegal to mess with the system in any way)

So, what to do, A couple of examples to be going on with

1. EMP: If you're worried about hidden RFID tags in your (non-electronic)
    possessions, invest in building an EMP device and then pulse the living
    hell out of the little darlings..it tends to make them fubar.

    Chapter 25 of "Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius" looks like a place
    to start, or Chapter 12 of "More Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius"
    Bear in mind, these books *are* glorified adverts for the Author's US company
    and supply business (e.g. many of the designs in the books feature components
    that only his company supplies), but they'll still point you in the right
    direction if you have any electronics skills..anyhoo, must get back to
    dismantling this microwave oven...

    I have to add, to those of us in Britain, even though the books pointed to
    above are legally available to purchase here (from amazon.co.uk and others)
    read the wording of Section 57 and 58 of the Terrorism Act, read up on how
    the police are using this act as a 'carte blanche', then wonder how long it'll
    take then to criminalise the deactivation/destruction of RFID tags themselves,
    or, more likely, the possession/construction of an EMP device.

    Seriously, just thinking about this, on a legal point

    who owns the RFID tags in your clothing/goods anyway?

    I point you to the example of 'your' store loyalty card, which probably has
    something like 'Remains the property of escoTay' on it's reverse.

    You purchase the item, but do you purchase/own the RFID tag it contains?.

    IANAL, but, like a loyalty card, it appears the RFID tag *may* remain the property
    of the store/whoever, you damage/tamper with the tag by EMP/Whatever - instant
    possible charge of criminal damage to someone else's property.

2. Database Poisoning: Start a mass media campaign aimed at educating people
    about the dangers of these things, and, Importantly, how to identify and
    remove/disable them, set up 'clearing houses' for the gathering and distribution
    of these liberated tags.

    Once started, then like the 'loyalty card' efforts, set up a national/global
    movement to 'poison' all their databases e.g the old 'glue the RFID tags to
    cockroaches and release them' thing, swapping tags nationally/internationally
    etc.etc.etc..

Think of the possibilities,

checking through their combined RFID scanner logs, the security services software
discovers a "potential terrorist" pattern of activity, and 'Flags that Tag'.

The tag ID has been on at least 10 international flights to dubious destinations
in the past three months, two massage parlours, visited several islamic bookshops,
been in close contact with other 'known' suspicious RFID tags etc etc (you get the
idea).
They do a check in the global master database, it's a can of (insert brand of your
choice) baked beans, ah, Identity theft as well, they can see the newspaper
headlines "Islamic terrorist masquerades as can of baked beans in attempt to try and
destroy our freedom loving way of life (you will believe this, or else..)", they then
get the software to show the latest position of the tag (which lamp post reader it
tripped last), and dispatch their goon squads..

Oh what larks, eh.

RFID can be read at long distances. (1)

bl968 (190792) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198742)

Range is defined as the maximum distance for successful Tag-Reader communication. Read range difference will vary and can be very-short, short, or long.

Very Short Range: approx. up to 60cm (2 ft)
Short Range: approx. up to 5 m (16 ft)
Long Range: approx. 100+ m (320+ ft)

High-frequency (850 MHz to 950 MHz and 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz) systems, offer long read ranges (greater than 90 feet) and high reading speeds. High-frequency systems are used for railroad car tracking and automated toll collection.

Easy to overcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22198836)

As someone mentioned earlier there will be a market for devices that will "brick" the RDIF
chips in products pretty quickly. At the moment I know a few people who have US passports
that put them in a microwaves for 5-10 seconds rendering the chip useless.

As for having RFIDs around you and not being able to control the information they let out
or the presence they bring to attention, a simple device that continually transmits random
id's or ones recorded from your local walmart etc could be just the trick to create an
overload of information processing for any system. These devices can be easily thwarted.
No need to panic at this point in time. More important things to worry about such as the
proposed trusted computing platform.

A possible future solution. (1)

tylersaurus (1221772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22198862)

I read this earlier today and posted this on my blog [tylersaurus.com] . I guess my response is more about if theoretically these "big brother" chips could transmit more than 3cm. Technology seems to have a habit of making things harder, better, faster, stronger... so it is not entirely un-plausible that one day RFID chips will transmit at much longer ranges.

I read an article in the Washington post today concerning the future of everything. [washingtonpost.com] While some might call this crazy talk... I am going to endorse my neurotic/paranoid side and state: Ubiquitous RFID tags(or some similar device) seems to be an almost inevitable and unavoidable future. And this snippet from the article sums things up nicely:

Katherine Albrecht, founder of CASPIAN, an anti-RFID group, says, "Nobody cares about radio tags on crates and pallets. But if we don't keep RFID off of individual consumer items, our stores will one day turn into retail 'zoos' where the customer is always on exhibit."
I agree with Katherine. I hope that Katherine and her friends will be able to stop this monster... sadly I think they will eventually be overpowered by corporate interest.
This situations will not just be contained in store, it will be in every aspect of our lives. While part of me is excited at the idea of cool widgets and the techno magic that accompanies them I am 100% scared crap-less about the complete loss of privacy. So, I have taken it upon myself to offer the best possible solution for dealing with this unavoidable future.

Definition: The ownership of chips. The ownership of a chip is determined by who is in personal possession of the chip. For instance if an item is sitting on a shelf in Wal-Mart, the owner is Wal-Mart. When a customer purchases said item all ownership of that item and the RFID chip is transferred to the customer who will now have complete control of the RFID chip.

1.) All RFID chips must have the following access levels: PUBLIC, PRIVATE and PROTECTED. These access levels can be modified by the chips owner and only by the chips owner. Any attempt to modify a chip that you do not have have ownership of or express permission from the owner to modify should be considered illegal and punishable. I am assuming that it will be easy for people to set permissions on their RFID chip through the use of ubiquitous devices such as their Blackberry/iPhone/(next big thing).

By having permission levels on RFID chips it would potentially eliminate many of the privacy issues while maintaining some of the useful functionality. At the same time if we ever reach a state of ubiquitous RFID tags imagine how easy airport security checks would be! Simply set all of your RFID tags to be public or protected(and give permission to be read by the security scanner) and you can walk right on through. If you have any sort of unsafe item on you it will show up... granted you might be able to sneak in something with out a tag or with a fake tag or a tag that has been tampered with. But that is a different problem, maybe there will be some sort of global authentication system/authority to make sure that the tag matches the item and is not providing false data about that item.

2.) Chip technology must be maintained in the public sector and as open source. This issue so greatly concerns our privacy that the only way anyone should ever feel comfortable about this technology being used in the publics best interest is if it is open source and openly policed(monitored?) by the public. There will never be a company that I would trust to maintain a technology this intrusive and not attempt to use their power over it without devious intent.
There is of course the possibility that companies might still manufacture proprietary impostor chips... but hopefully consumers will have the ability to easily sniff out impostor chips (global authentication of open source chips) and boycott them.

In Conclusion:
If done properly and with the utmost concern for privacy... this could be an awesome technology. Think of being able to combine principals of Object Oriented Programming with real life objects. Just about everything that is manufactured could have a data tag and interact in smart ways with us. We could instantly garnish knowledge about an item with the wave of a Blackberry/iPhone/(next big thing). The idea is still both frightening and amazing to me, but if worse comes to worst we will always still have the option of living free with tin foil hats and micro-waving all of our clothes.

Brainwashing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22199016)

Notable in the comments on this story is what seems to be missing. Deep outrage.

Previous generations of Americans - of all political leanings - would have been deeply offended by the idea that governments, or anyone else for that matter, had the right to snoop into a free citizen's private life unless a judge had determined probable cause, meaning it was likely the person was a criminal where the court would authorize an investigation likely to lead to that citizen losing his freedom or at least some of his property through a court trial and fine.

However, in the last ten years or so, there has been a remarkable change, where what used to be mainstream offense at such an idea is now marginalized as the loony fringe. Television shows have been party to this brainwashing, as they feature law enforcement shows where the federal, state and even local police go into databases and almost instantly know a lot about ones personal life. We watched one the other night where they organized a search party of the locals, and ostensibly to protect the people, took names of each volunteer. Then the TV show has the police and the feds discussing the personal profiles of each volunteer... this one has debt problems, that one has sexual deviancy... none of them convicted criminals, but each forming a detailed profile of that citizen. The show ostensibly was placed in Washington State not East Germany before the wall was torn down.

When I put computer systems into police departments in the 1980's, we were told that the software had to purge and absoletely delete all records on a person arrested if they were not charged, or found not guilty. Hopefully that is still the law. However, what we are seeing with stories like the Microsoft story is a slow process of softening up the public, of dimming public opinion so the ordinary guy in the street figures its normal for the police or corporates to snoop into the private lives of ordinary citizens. This is called a police state folks. Land of the free? Freedom means being left alone until you cross the boundary and break the law. Only in dictatorships, police states and authoritarian regimes do private citizens come under government surveilance.

In such places, life dims.

Reading these sorts of stories, life is dimming now, I fear.

If you are offended by officials or corporations spying on private citizens who have done nothing wrong, you must speak up now, while they are still softening up the rest of us. If you don't think you have the power to do so, look at the open source movement.

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." Samuel Adams

Read the last line again, folks. Then go back and re-read the Microsoft story.

Positive aspects (1)

Casandro (751346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22199274)

Like many other technologies there are also positive aspects.

Think about it, RFIDs need to be made cheaply. Sooner or later we will have printable microcontrollers costing a cent each, including a radio interface and a solar panel.
You could do extremely subversive things with those, like building a wireless meshed network which is virtually untraceable by governments and large cooperations. You would just need to glue your little computers to lamp-posts and they would relay.
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