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Embedded Microchips In Virtually Everything 186

Posted by kdawson
from the minority-report-by-other-means dept.
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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Embedded Microchips In Virtually Everything

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  • by Fishead (658061) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @01:17AM (#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:FUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sparky McGruff (747313) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @02:33AM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday January 27, 2008 @03:52AM (#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

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