[extropy-chat] RFID smartcard passports and driver's licences

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 6 23:27:51 UTC 2005

--- Hal Finney <hal at finney.org> wrote:
> megao at sasktel.net writes:
> > The ramp up is on to make passports mandatory to travel from Canada
> to 
> > USA and Vice Versa in 1-2 years.
> >
> > Are there any projects  in development  suggesting use of  RFID 
> > integrated  personal  ID smartcards?
> RFID has been used for many years in personal ID smartcards.  These
> are used for access control at universities and corporations.  Some
> places also use them to operate vending machines and make purchases,
> I think.

Virtually ANY customer loyalty program card today has an RFID in it. We
need wallets made from steel mesh cloth to provide shielding for our
cards from casual scanners. War-walking will be the new form of
identity theft in the near future, walking past people on  a busy
street with your card-scanner enabled PDA ripping peoples identities
without their knowledge...

Furthermore, most shoes sold today have an RFID in the heel. All NIKE
sneakers do. More and more clothes have them in the seams, to comply
with Walmart vendor requirements. Most stores already have the
equipment (not the software) to scan everyone coming into the store to
see what RFIDs they have on them to make a judgement as to whether that
person is someone the store wants for a customer.
> These RFID chips are generally shorter range than the new generation
> which is more controversial.  You have to wave the card near a
> sensor.

This is entirely dependent upon the strength of the pulse that is
beamed at it and the capability of the antenna receiving the response.
Such cards are readable from longer distance. It is only the readers
used in stores that are intentionally weak in order to imply the sense
of privacy. I could, for example, carry a large coil of wire over my
shoulder, under my jacket, which would be tuned to the frequency range
of RFID, and would read the cards of anyone walking within 10-15 feet
of me.

> The newer RFID chips can be read from many feet away and will be used
> for remote sensing of products in warehouses, and possibly many other
> applications.
> > A card might be programmed to log the users activities while out of
> the 
> > country and download to the customs
> > on exit.  The card might try to log RFID scanners  and nearness to
> other 
> > personal smartcards.
> RFID chips are unpowered until brought into the vicinity of the
> reader.
> So they can't do too much monitoring of routine activities.  The main
> thing they could store is a record of when and how they had been
> activated in the past.

Not even that. They are rather stupid in that way, and are
intentionally designed to be stupid so that the posessor can never
figure out even with technical assistance how frequently they are being

I highly recommend you join Katherine Albrecht's group newsletter
CASPIAN if you want to keep up on the RFID threat to privacy.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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