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You Need Not Be Paranoid To Fear RFID 509

Posted by Zonk
from the tales-of-horror dept.
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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You Need Not Be Paranoid To Fear RFID

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:34AM (#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).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:41AM (#13755319) Homepage Journal
      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
    • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:08AM (#13755391)
      (Or just use cash).

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

      • 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 pl
        • 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.
          • by BVis (267028) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:24AM (#13755675)
            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.
            The attempts at dollar coins have failed in the US because of several reasons:

            • Non-removal of one dollar bills from circulation (at the bank level)
            • Poor design of the coins themselves (too easily mistaken for a quarter, etc). This could be fixed by following the model of the UK one pound coin: it's about the same size as a US nickel but twice as thick, much easier to recognize in your pocket and in the cash drawer. Unfortunately this leads to:
            • Resistance from the vending machine industry (machines would need to be retooled to accept a coin significantly different from the ones currently in use)
            • The perception by the great unwashed that coins aren't "real money", lack of education about the new currency (think of the oft-repeated Taco Bell two dollar bill story); this goes hand in hand with Americans' fanatical opposition to being educated.

            It's just another case of Americans' short-sightedness, where the fact that some inconvenience in the short term would lead to significant benefits in the long term (in this case, lowered US currency production expenses, in non-trivial amounts) is completely irrelevant, and stating otherwise supports terrorism | Communism | Socialism | the Liberals | the hippies | $randomUnAmericanGroup.
            • I recently had occasion to spend several hundred two-dollar bills in my day-to-day transactions, and it's made this question of why unconventional coin and currency haven't succeeded quite clear. In my experience, people almost uniformly love these rare items.

              The reason they don't achieve widespread use is because merchants pull them out of circulation, rather than giving them out as change. Why do they do this? Perceived inconvenience, the idea that employees will mistake their value, etc. The sol

        • 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...

        • by hummassa (157160) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:00AM (#13755562) Homepage Journal
          Coins will be made of plastic (the rfid being the way of authenticating them) before 2020.
    • If you're going to use cash, beware of this [eetimes.com]
  • Patent tin-foil garbage bags.
    • ...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! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That would infringe on my patent for tin-foil panchos!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:39AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:44AM (#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.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:45AM (#13755327) Journal
    ...for RFID-killers. Shouldn't need more than a watt or so at the right frequency to kill the chip.

    -jcr
    • You beat me to it! I forsee the latest gadget on the street being a short range EMP generator.
    • DMCA voilation?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doublem (118724) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:20AM (#13755429) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • 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?
      • Can't be DMCA violation. You are making it HARDER to decrypt :-)
      • by jcr (53032)
        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
        • by The Monster (227884) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:23AM (#13755667) Homepage
          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.
          Ever hear of 'paraphernalia' laws? Tommy Chong went to prison for selling pipes that could be used to smoke marijuana. This is typical of how new laws are often made: A law is passed to criminalize activity based on a correlation to an existing illegal activity as a means to make the latter easier to enforce. After some time passes, the process repeats, with a new class of behavior criminalized to make it easier to enforce the prior law.

          Soon we'll see laws against making 'precursors' to 'circumvention devices'; just you watch it happen.

  • by ettlz (639203) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:45AM (#13755329) Journal

    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?!? (Score:5, Funny)

      by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:56AM (#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 :)
      • by ettlz (639203)
        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!

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:46AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:48AM (#13755340) Journal
    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?
    • by aussie_a (778472)
      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.
    • 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?

    • by twitter (104583) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:48AM (#13755508) Homepage Journal
      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.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:36AM (#13755753)
        Parent post is right on. 20 years ago, political operatives wanted SC nominee Robert Bork's video rental records. 10 years ago, everybody wanted to know who didn't pay tax on their nanny's salary. Last month, the New York Times wanted SC nominee Roberts' children's adoption records, just in case the children might have been illegally offered to him and thus be a sensational story. The threshold of who is snooping continues to move downward; the pool of who might incidentally want that information and have the means to get it continues to increase; and the threshold of privacy they want to invade continues to move inward. And it won't respectfully stop when it reaches your comfort level.

        In the near future, your neighbor, the blogger, might just decide you need to be put in your place by posting what his Acme RFID-Max SuperScanner can find next time you're away. And the Internet Wayback machine and Google may ensure that it is never difficult to retrieve or forgotten.

        The best way to secure sensitive data is to NOT enable its collection in the first place. Unless you actually want a society where everyone is afraid to deviate from the community's blandest common denominator.

    • Re:Shopping patterns (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Illserve (56215)
      It is a big deal, because directed advertising is more profitable.

      And because it's more profitable there will be more of it.

      So given the choice of less undirected advertising and more directed advertising, I'll take the former.

      Also, directed advertising is harder to ignore. The more they know about how your brain works the better they'll be able to create ads that draw your attention to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:49AM (#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?
    • 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.

    • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday October 10, 2005 @09:34AM (#13756062) Journal
      Oh look, an Anonymous Coward who has absolutely no concept of statistics. Modded up to +3 too. Impressive and/or sad.

      RFID on EVERYTHING means that anomalies like that become less and less significant. Cross-reference enough data and you can spot patterns without having the faintest idea why they're there. (There's actually a famous psychiatric test based on this principle, though the name escapes me. Basically, it's a bunch of crazyass questions designed to give the shrink a statistical probability that you're suffering from a mental disease. The individual answers themselves are irrelevant; only the statistical whole counts. Thus, the potential for an individual to purposefully alter his answers is in effect built into the final percentages--there's really no way to cheat.)

      You've missed the point completely. How often do you send shoes to someone living 3,000 miles away? Do you think Nike or Reebok care about the handful of people who've done such a thing? Marketing people only care about the fat, juicy center of the bell curve. Yeah, there are also those niche markets at the edges, but the instant you change your focus to that niche, then it becomes the center of the bell curve.

      On the whole this isn't all terribly evil so long as it's used for relatively non-obnoxious advertisements, but the potential for abuse by insurance agencies, banks, law enforcement, etc. is very, very high. If you're not in the statistical norm for the targeted advertisement, who cares? You ignore the ad. But if you're far out of the statistical norm for "law abiding citizen" and the local PD finds out, you can bet your ass you'll be hounded until the day you die (or move to a saner country.) It won't matter if you're an exception; it won't matter if there's only a 55% chance you're a criminal. They'll do it because it's efficient. It'll be like racial profiling except it will apply to every single minority conceivable, from Yanni fans to gays to diehard otakus to atheists. Your difficultly in the world will be inversely related to your conformity. Stray too far out of the norm and your insurance rates will skyrocket, you credit rating will plunge, and cops will look at you that much harder next time they've got an unsolved crime on their hands.

      It's not bizzare; it's not even inherently evil. Living by statistics is just an efficient way of doing things. The problem is that greater efficiency is bought with something far more precious; individuality. For now, I can ignore the ads, but for heaven's sake let's not get complacent.
  • Ubiquity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the bluebrain (443451) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:51AM (#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?
    • Re:Ubiquity (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dajak (662256)
      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".

      That makes sense. The most basic tests for legislative drafting we use here in the Netherlands are: 1) it is possible to comply efficiently (= without d
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:51AM (#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.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • 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 fee
      • by ifwm (687373)
        "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"

        Or they could simply drag your bin onto public property and take their time.

        Or they could dump your bin out and take the trash with them.

        I know you don't sit in your yard guarding your trash all day.
    • by Alef (605149)
      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

    • I mean really. Right now, anyone can follow me around all day and see:

      - what my spending habits are like
      - what my diet is like
      - what my consumption rate is
      - what my interests are
      - what my personal timeline is like
      - samples of my dna
      - samples of my finger prints

      The point is, people don't do these things because it's not worth it. Now it is.
  • by richy freeway (623503) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:53AM (#13755359)
    but it's always interesting to talk about.

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:54AM (#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.
  • by dougman (908) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:56AM (#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.

    • "Books and DVD's could be quickly added to my delicious library (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.


      I wear my thinking cap under my tinfoil hat
    • Kind of works for a while, then they embed RFID scanners into your DVD players and use it to "Protect" their content. Each time you play that DVD your "connected" DVD player authorizes your use after suitable charges are made to your CC account. Or it just refuses to play on your friend's DVD player if you loan it to them as it has already been authorized to play only on your DVD player.
  • by smchris (464899) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:59AM (#13755369)
    Don't leave that empty pack of smokes at the bar. They'll show up at the crime scene later.
  • Mistaken Identity! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ami-in-hamburg (917802) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:03AM (#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.
  • 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 lis
  • 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?
    • 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

  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:06AM (#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.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:10AM (#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.

  • "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 V
  • ...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.

  • 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 g
  • Ehh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mkirsten (685241)
    So here's another business idea:

    The RFID-shredder®, "Increasing the entropy since 2006"

  • the point (Score:2, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436)
    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.
  • 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 ver
    • "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."

      The whole problem with your scenario is that you are visualizing a single gargantuan database of RFID data. This is totally unworkable. Instead, think about each retail store, each manufacturer, and each service provider maintaining their own RFID datasets, and then making such data available to whichever marketing company (or government) pays th
  • Chilling effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by badfish99 (826052) on Monday October 10, 2005 @07:36AM (#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.

  • 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.

  • 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
  • by o0SupaCB0o (905823) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:02AM (#13755570)
    They don't need RFID to collect anymore information than they already.

    I've seen the amount of information they collect at these POS systems. You use a credit/debit card, your card encodes your zip code, first name, last name. Your purchase is collected already by scanning the item into the register.

    Your info is then sent to the 3 credit bueraus and your infor is merged with those large databasese. If you give your email to the retailer, your email is attached to your credit report. Through those credit reports the credit bueraus then sends back your address to the retailer and all other information the retailer can afford.

    Your information is already available in catalog dealers, your internet info is available at experian online (yup experian started an internet division). How much you make and how much own is already available at experian, transunion and can't remember the last one.

    The retailer already got the information they need, RFID is just a way to track inventory, really no joke. RFID does not add any additional information that the retail/catalog industry does not already have. Oh yea, they used to be able to get large amount of info through the DMV before 9/11.

    Experian will sell your info to ANYBODY at the right price, private detective already have this ability, without license. Now the funny thing is the only person that has a hard time getting your info, is yourself! Oh yea don't get me started on the 2 files they keep, one public one that you see, and one that is hidden, that keeps every single transactions you've made in your life. the law says some items fall off the report, but the hiden one is available to anybody with money and can make your life horrible. There are no laws saying that your bank need to tell you they based their decision on this second file. So you think your report is clean, but the hidden one says otherwise. Oh yea that second one contains all your purchase habbits too.

    God where's my hat? I can't see an after market of people scanning garbage from a particular locale/district etc. The marketing drones already have this information. Retailers routinely sell their lists to each other. Catelogs company give them to each other as "gifts". Or worse TRADED like comodity. You people are not paranoid enough!
    • by Knight2K (102749) on Monday October 10, 2005 @08:21AM (#13755659) Homepage
      If your two file theory is true, then I think the easiest way to solve this is: mandate by law that the 'second file' (obviously some different legal terminology could be used here) be available to the consumer for free. These companies are obviously making a lot of money off the residue of our consumer lives, so this wouldn't affect their revenue stream. But I would love to have a record of every transaction I make, if only because I'm not the world's greatest bookkeeper. Then I would see some actual value from providing this information to retailers, rather than feeling f*&ked over when asked for it.

      And if people become upset about how much information truly is stored, then public outcry may see some changes made. As long as the information collection is effectively invisible, then it will be difficult to get the public excited about this.
    • They don't need RFID to collect anymore information than they already.

      I've seen the amount of information they collect at these POS systems. You use a credit/debit card, your card encodes your zip code, first name, last name. Your purchase is collected already by scanning the item into the register.

      Your info is then sent to the 3 credit bueraus and your infor is merged with those large databasese. If you give your email to the retailer, your email is attached to your credit report. Through those credit repo
      • Costco (and probably every "membership" store of any sort) keeps a complete record of everything you ever bought there -- you can still return stuff for a refund even if you don't have the receipt, because they can instantly look up your purchase history to see if you bought the item there or not.

        My VISA card sends me a year-end statement that itemizes *every* time I used the card for the past year.

        So those are two that I know for a fact keep my complete purchase history for at least a year. (And I can pull
  • by Dark Fire (14267) <clasmc@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @10:11AM (#13756275)
    Theft and Burglary have just gotten easier with the aid of RFID technology. Now you can find out what is in someone's home or business just by driving by the building! No need to waste your time trying to profile homes and select the most profitable targets. Just drive through the neighborhood and make out your Christmas list. Point and click profiling. Brought to you by IBM.
  • by Rick Zeman (15628) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:29AM (#13756875)
    But (no shit) she's already releasing a sequel:

    The Spychips Threat : Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Computer Tracking

    An updated version of the authors' previous Spychips, this book explores the inherent dangers of RFID (which stands for Radio Frequency Identification and is a technology that uses tiny computer chips to track consumer items and consumers) and shows how this powerful new technology actually fits into the schema of many evangelicals' interpretation of biblical prophecy. Compiling massive amounts of research with firsthand knowledge, Spychips explains how RFID works, reveals the history and future of the mater planners' strategies to imbed these trackers on everything (from postage stamps to shoes to people themselves), and ties in these ominous new devices to current Christian thought about the coming New World Order.

    From:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1595 550216/ref=pd_sim_b_1/104-0662104-7062340?_encodin g=UTF8&v=glance [amazon.com]
  • by NecrosisLabs (125672) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:38AM (#13756948)
    ..trashcan.

    I'm trying not to be paranoid about this stuff, and I understand the need for companies to make a buck, but this stuff just gives me the willies.

    I also have a dream about those "loyalty" cards that are used to track shopping habits, it goes like this:

    At the common areas in a public place (office, gym, whatever) there is a fishbowl filled with these loyalty cards. You need to go grocery shopping, so you go over, and pull out one for the store that you need, tossing in the one that is already in your wallet. You shop, and get the "discount" (as opposed to my perspective that I resent having to pay a premium to retain my privacy). Next week, you happen to be somewhere else before you go shopping. Toss in that last card, grab a new one! This would really do a number on their datamining accuracy.

    I'm aware that some people use these cards for check validation and suchlike. This would only work for those who have them for the discount.

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