Saturday, February 07, 2009

R-F-I-D made a paranoid out of me!

The idea behind RFID is really cool and has so many fantastic applications. Do you know how easy my job would have been if I could have just pointed a magic wand at the ammo shelves to find out that we were down three boxes of .32ACP, five boxes of 9mm, and a box of .44 Magnum?

All the little tags, blurting out their information on command... What a handy thing for items on the shelf at a retail store to do. Maybe not so much for passports and driver's licenses, though.


og said...

I've been using RFID technology for some time now, and it's impressive stuff. I damned sure don't want it in my license or passport, though.

I also like to wave my magic wand at the shelves of ammo, but that's a good way to get banned from the funstore.

Hey, I made sure no kids were around.

wolfwalker said...

I find it magnificently ironic that this post extols the value of RFID, while the next post up is a cranky libertarian complaint about the powers we keep giving to the government. (At all levels, that is -- did you know that many of the "new" powers that the feds obtained via the Patriot Act were powers that state and local police already had?)

So inventory-tracking RFID chips in boxes of ammo are a wonderful thing, eh? What about RFID chips worked into the grip of a handgun? or the stock of a long gun?

Farm.Dad said...

"What about RFID chips worked into the grip of a handgun?" HK beat you too it as they released a " .gov over run with chips in the backstrap .

I really due to my research on the subject of rfid think this is a case of a tempest in a teapot . There is a move to tag every livestock animal in the usa at birth or near berth with rfid chips that may only be removed at the packing plant . The hold up is standard practice of animal husbandry and the limits of technology . The issue now seems to be that you cannot reliably read cattle confined to single file ( such as being loaded into a semi ) even if you tape the chip to the cow . Such products as beer , razors , ect .. have packaged rifid chips for some time , and retail giants such as Wall mart " put the scanners actually at the display shelves in order to read the chip since they cannot reliably read it via the shopping cart when you leave . Now i agree that the entire basis for the chip is a concern , but nowadays it simply is not an identity theft issue unless someone can scan a choke point . And if your going thro a choke point likely you would have to " show id " anyway to the nice homeland security folk .

karrde said...

RFID has its uses.

However, government tracking of people via RFID looks and behaves too much like the cattle-tracking problem mentioned above.

It's not the technology, it's the people using it.

Stryker said...

Time to get an RFID blocking wallet?

Hecate said...

Do-it-yourself Faraday cage.

Darrell said...

Isn't the proper term a "paranoiac"? ;^)

Roberta X said...

Wolfwalker, you didn't follow the link. I just have that feeling.

Thing about RFID is, it can often be read farther away than you'd believe possible but it cannot reliably be read at any less than near-contact distance. Semi-useful for inventory control, not as useful for people control -- and downright dangerous on passports, etc. Remember that tinfoil we were saving to make hats? Wrap up that super-duper RFID passport in a couple layers and use plenty of overlaps.

An' don't let 'em stick a chip under your skin. Smile an' tell'm you converted to a faith that disallows the implantation of transponders.

(Note to self: found religious faith that views implanted RFID as a sin and requires the faithful to bear arms at all times. Call it Bobbiism).

Joseph said...

Bobbiism also requires that one know Morse code, and keep a ham set for "words from on high"..."high" being perhaps a pirate signal radiated from a tower.

Hey, if there can be a Church of the FSM, why not??

Anonymous said...

Amen to Bobbiism!!!

Tam said...


"What about RFID chips worked into the grip of a handgun? or the stock of a long gun?"

What's wrong with just putting it in the box? Or on the hanging tag?

Jesus, I don't care about it after it leaves the store; I just want to know how many I have on the shelf and how long they've been there.

Hey, I know! Let's smash all the computers because the .gov might use them to keep track of us!

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Actually, there are some branches of the southern baptist faith that have been screaming about the chip implant for years - they view it as the impending "mark of the beast."

Whatever else I may agree or emphatically disagree with them, I agree that people-herding for the convenience of the government is not my idea of a good country.

Can we work this into a tenant of that church of which JMB is a prophet?

wv: acksu. While going Ack! Sue! is not my forte, maybe we can sic the ACLU on this...

TBeck said...

One of my cats is chipped, but I assumed that was part of the electronic monitoring that she agreed to when she was paroled from the slam.

Elizabeth said...

The nice thing about RFID is the chips are fairly fragile. 10 seconds in the microwave, having something too heavy impact them (why hello there, hammer), cutting off the antenna, or making the battery run out due to repeated interrogations will quickly and easily disable them. Best way to disable the passport ones is gently with a hammer. Though the microwave technique is slightly more reliable to kill the chip, it could likely leave scorch marks, and you'd be liable to get caught tampering with a passport. Yes, your passport will still work w/o the RFID chip functioning. As for the rest of your RFID tagged stuff, either get an RFID blocking bag/wallet (ThinkGeek has some nice ones), or disable them all permanently.

Wired blurb on disabling RFID in passports
Schneier on RFID
Another article on defeating/destroying RFID chips

Some RFID is wonderfully useful, see inventory control, door keys, gate keys, even car keys that work by proximity rather than physically in the locking mechanism, or need the RFID in addition to the physical mechanism. But RFID in identification? Hell no, especially not from the government. Purely aside from my anti-surveillance obsessive twitch, the .gov's piss-poor approach to info security and encryption infuriates me.