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<nettime> Re: [IP] Benetton adds RFID tags.
Rick Bradley on Wed, 12 Mar 2003 20:12:11 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Re: [IP] Benetton adds RFID tags.


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[ in response to: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200303/msg00162.html ]

* Dave Farber (dave {AT} farber.net) [030312 10:58]:
> RFID tags have the same privacy issues as SpeedPass, but are much more
> insidious. Most citizens will be unaware that they've been tagged as
> thoroughly as an endangered animal.
> 
> Maybe I should start microwaving my underwear.....

A friend and I were discussing RFID tags a few weeks ago.  Of course the
obvious privacy concerns came up.  Then we started thinking, "Hey, these
tags are supposed to be dirt cheap because the technology has gotten
dirt simple to implement..."

If that's true then, we reasoned, what's to stop us from getting access
to RFID signals?  If /that/ is true then what's to stop us from
recording and replaying RFID signals (after all they're basically just
128-bit or 256-bit integers broadcast at low power when a detector
energizes them)?

Imagine going around with a recorder which detects RFIDs, records every
RFID it encounters, and then replays them.  You could have the system
replay random known RFIDs, replay RFIDs that it has heard recently, have
it wait for ten minutes to start replaying (enough time to be well away
from the area where the "real" RFIDs are), etc. (this purposely ignores
the utility of creating one's own RFIDs wholecloth).

This would wreak havoc with "merchandise control" systems, and other
forms of tracking.  What happens when an organization is trying to track
the location of people by RFIDs in their clothing and there are 5, 10,
or 100 people "wearing" the same clothes in the vicinity?

The RFID Big Brother schemes (and fears) are dependent on an unempowered
populace who are either incapable of using the technology themselves or
cowed into foregoing the RFID technology.  There's no reason for this to
be so.

Rick
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