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CA Bill Limits Skin Implantation of RFID Chips 275

twitter writes with a link to a ZDNet blog entry about a piece of legislation submitted to the California state senate. Drafted by Democratic Senator Joe Simitian, its purpose is to ensure that employers cannot require the implantation of RFID chips as part of employment. It is meeting with scorn from the American Electronics Association. "'Our bottom line is we're opposed to anything that demonizes RFIDs,' she said. 'The technology has been in existence for more than 50 years. It's in more than 1.2 billion ID credentials worldwide. ... We've not seen a single showing of ID theft or harm,' said Roxanne Gould, vice president for California government relations for the American Electronics Association, a high-tech industry group."
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CA Bill Limits Skin Implantation of RFID Chips

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  • RTFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vombatus ( 777631 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:53AM (#19632785)
    How can I be guilty of not reading the fine article, when there is no fine article to be read?
  • by johnrpenner ( 40054 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:57AM (#19632799) Homepage

    Doesn't mean you can't have your RFID -- it just means they can't REQUIRE you to have it.

    and that's a good thing.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:01AM (#19632817)
    Note to Ms Gould: There's a difference between a tag you wear at work, and something semi-permanently implanted in your body.
  • Not yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CriminalNerd ( 882826 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:12AM (#19632863)

    It's in more than 1.2 billion ID credentials worldwide. ... We've not seen a single showing of ID theft or harm,' said Roxanne Gould

    In my humble opinion, just because something did not happen yet does not mean that it will not happen in the future

    And the summary missing a link to the ZDNet blog.
  • like ID tattoos? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:15AM (#19632875)
    Employers are requiring a medical procedure as a condition of employment. How about tattooing the employee ID, or neutering the staff to make them more docile, although that would be redundant for any employee that accepted the chip in the first place.

    This is not primarily about the RFID security. It is about mutilating the staff to save the employer the cost of installing and using a less Nazi-slave-like security system. Seems to me that any doctors that perform the procedure should have their license removed. The tags are hardly justifiable as cosmetic surgery providing any self-image benefit, since the tags aren't supposed to be visible.
  • by Knara ( 9377 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:34AM (#19632953)
    No, the "market" won't fix itself, at least not in the direction of individual liberty. The "market" will migrate towards all the companies requiring it, and then you don't get to choose anymore. I for one would rather not have to sleep in a Faraday cage in order to sleep soundly.
  • Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aero2600-5 ( 797736 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:55AM (#19633025)
    Why is it always California that's always ahead of the rest of the country? The best time to take care of a problem is before it starts. Everyone here in the IT business has probably heard of it. It's called preventative maintenace . California has started applying it to politics, and I applaud them for it.

    I've never been to California, and I know that it's not perfect, but a good portion of their newer laws make a ton of sense, and should probably be implemented nationwide.

    What's sad is that when a government body passes a law that is good for it's people, it's news.

  • by aero2600-5 ( 797736 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @02:59AM (#19633043)

    Or how about for our troops on the combat field

    This is a bad idea for the same reason that it's a bad idea to be chipping our own citizens:

    What happens when people who weren't intended to be reading these chips start using them to track and find the chipped?

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FredDC ( 1048502 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:03AM (#19633051)
    We've not seen a single showing of ID theft or harm

    Read as:

    We all stand around here with our eyes closed and our hands over our ears shouting BLABLABLABLABLA.......

    Ignorance is bliss!
  • Re:RTFA? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:05AM (#19633059)
    How can I be guilty of not reading the fine article, when there is no fine article to be read?

    Makes no difference -- if the dizzy bitch can't tell the difference between rfid in a credit card and employer-mandated implantation of rfid chips, probably "for homeland security and for the children", she has nothing to say worth hearing.

    I must note that I'm also opposed to anything that demonizes my dick, especially whan chicks are around.

  • by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:07AM (#19633069)

    I am willing to make that trade off for the career I want.
    Being willing to implant an RFID does not mean that you'll get to have the career you want. Perhaps you'll work there for only a month or two and be laid off because of an airline's financial insolvency. Then you can get a new RFID from the next business.

    The problem with implanted RFID is that most people underestimate their future costs as a result of an employer implanting the chip. It costs considerably more to remove an RFID, in money and personal risk, and the employer makes no provision to pay for this. Over a lifetime of jobs, once all employers require RFIDs, how many of these chips will need to be implanted? Assume that every time you change employers or even locations for the same employer you'll need new chip implanted. Every time a system is cracked (your individual chip or the outdated technology of the original chip) you'll need another chip implanted. If your company is bought by another company, implant a new chip. Technology changes constantly and employment terms for one entity are becoming increasingly shorter than in the past. Once employers do it, everyone else will want a chip under your skin for credit cards, or even customer memberships. You may have, literally, hundreds of opportunities to be re-chipped. How many chips can you realistically implant in your arm? Will you be forced to remove some of them because they compete with other technology? (The RFID used for toll booths in Maryland and Delaware are incompatible so I have to put one in the glove box to pass through the other because their systems interfere and cannot read their own ID if the other ID is also present.)

    How many of these concerns do you think a person who is asked to install a chip has actually considered before they get implanted? The long term issues of chipping and the future costs which will be borne by the person being chipped and they are woefully uninformed. This lack of information availability is exactly what allows larger players in a market to abuse the smaller players. When a company knows the dangers but the employees or customers do not, they can shift future costs to them because they lack this information. The market is notoriously bad at affixing future costs to those who caused the problem (from cancer risks of smoking to pollution of locales to bad economic decisions.)
  • Its not RFID... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DTemp ( 1086779 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:13AM (#19633095)
    It's not the RFID tags the senator is going after... its employers being able to fire anyone who doesn't want a CHIP EMBEDDED IN THEIR SKIN by the company they work for. I think RFID technology is great, and I completely support this bill.

    This is another case of an industry group going crazy to protect what they perceive to be their interests, when in fact its no challenge to the technology at all, its a challenge to having an employer being able to modify your body.
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:19AM (#19633117)
    Most people do not have the choice to decide whether they wish to work, or with whom they wish to work for, therefore at least a certain amount of legal protection has to be maintained. This is especially true when most of the wealth (and power) is distributed to only a small minority of the population.

    Considering the fact that power corrupts and companies tend towards the lowest common denominator when it comes to moral issues like workers rights and just plane ordinary dignity, it is not unreasonable to have a law that requires employers not to treat their workers too much like cattle. If people really did have a choice of not to work for bad companies, I'm sure they would. Until that day comes, we will need legislation protecting us from our employers.
  • Re:Not yet (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:25AM (#19633155)
    Roxanee went out of her way to specify that, "We've not seen a single showing of ID theft or harm [in 50 years during most of which the technology was used mostly by the military]."
    • Remind me again how you go about proving a negative?
    • Correlate all this against the federal requirements that keep credit card companies and banks from making their customers personally responsible for fraud and/or ID theft.
    • Now, tell me why I shouldn't fear the repercussions from traveling the world with a chip in my scrotum that identifies me as a WASP from a country that promotes it's own agenda of Global IndUStry with so little regard for rule of law, quality of life, humanitarian concerns or the future... beyond the next 4 quarterly financial reports.
    Thanks... I'll take your answer of the air.
  • Auschwitz 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:35AM (#19633201) Homepage Journal
    Another note to Ms. Gould: I don't think it's the possibility of the RFID tag not working or being stolen that worries the CA lawmaker. I am pretty sure it's the implantation that's the worry.
    For one thing, no employer should ever have the right to demand the violation of an employee's body.
    Another issue is that this is too damn close to a slave collar. "Property of ACME Inc."
    And finally, the RFID tag doesn't stop working once the work day is over, but works 24/7/365.

    The problem I see with a ban is that the ban is likely going to be too narrow if it mentions RFID. Unless it's a ban against any permanent or semi-permanent marking of employees, it's going to be worse than nothing, as the wrong judge might rule that since RFIDs were banned, but tattoos were not mentioned, it means that tattoos are implicitly allowed.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:38AM (#19633213)
    We just pay our employees that allow us to chip them 10 cents an hour more. And for some odd reason, whenever we lay people off, the ones not tagged are the first ones to get sacked.

    Pure coincidence, of course.
  • by Tanuki64 ( 989726 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @03:47AM (#19633257)
    Look at the parents statement. What I meant was that laws, which does not strictly forbid RFID implantation, are worthless. A law, which just says that an employer cannot require an implantation is even worse than worthless. It gives a semblance of protection, but does in effect nothing at all. For exactly the same reasons you gave.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:16AM (#19633375)

    For one thing, no employer should ever have the right to demand the violation of an employee's body.
    Only a fool would consent to it.

    Does this really need to be legislated? Eh, no I don't think so.

  • by Tanuki64 ( 989726 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:22AM (#19633393)

    Does this really need to be legislated? Eh, no I don't think so.
    No, of course this does not need to be legislated. Just like with compulsory drug tests, the market will regulate itself. Just like nobody wanted to take the drug tests and work for companies, which required them, the RFID implantations won't happen because no company would find employees who would accept them.
  • by simong ( 32944 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @04:28AM (#19633415) Homepage
    is that cal.gov are having to legislate on this because some HR person has seriously considered it...
  • Re:RFID rsucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NickFortune ( 613926 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @05:19AM (#19633611) Homepage Journal

    Roxanne Gould, Spokesweasel for the American Electronics Association says 'Our bottom line is we're opposed to anything that demonizes RFIDs'

    Actually, I found that part of it refreshingly honest. What she's saying is tantamount to something like this:

    We don't care a hoot about the moral or ethical aspects. We don't even care if RFID are a good idea in any context, neither do we care if they happen to be an astonishingly one. All we care about is that industry buys more RFID chips, and that's what we will say in any and every debate.

    The nice thing about that is that it means their opinion on any subject can be dismissed out of hand. It's like a binary signal that's always set to one; it carries no data. We already know what they're going to say, whatever the question ("RFID tags are GOOD!") and we know why ("because it make us MONEY!").

    It's just rare to see one of these industry pressure groups quite so willing to disqualify themselves from the debate.

  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @05:33AM (#19633655)
    Employers are requiring a medical procedure as a condition of employment. How about tattooing the employee ID, or neutering the staff to make them more docile

    There are also privacy implications in that this identifies the them as an employee even when they are not at work. (It may even be useful to criminals such as burglers.) Would requiring a barcode tatoo (on a piece of skin not usually covered by clothing) be legal currently?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @06:09AM (#19633777) Homepage
    Actually it is one step away from technology that is far worse. Once you can force the implanting of digital ROM why not digital RAM an implanted device that records you activities for downloading later. This is a important piece of legislation in order to cut off even worse technology, a politician that is surprisingly looking ahead.

    Often this kind of legislation has to be extended to barring the technology altogether as corporations or government departments will try to work around the legislative ban forbidding compulsion by the use of various extortion techniques, reduced pay, promotion restrictions, implied threats of dismissal, unlikely employment.

    Why wait for the abuses, ban questionable applications of technology to start with.

    Just think of the benefits for the weasel in chief, he wont have to wait for you to make a phone call so that the NSA can record you calls, he can just download you sound recording chip when ever you walk past a phone for any questionable anti-republican statements.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @06:41AM (#19633897) Homepage Journal
    Like with drug tests, it's the weakest that will have the least opportunity to say "no". If the choice is whether to submit to an RFID implant or not be able to put food on the table, it's hard to say no.
    Legislation that hinders companies from exploiting their employees is not a bad thing. The free forces only go so far, and protect only those in a position to say "no". That's not everyone, even if it's you.
  • by UncleGizmo ( 462001 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @07:04AM (#19633947)
    Ahhh, classic /. logic on display...

    "this has never happened to me, therefore your logic is silly for suggesting it could happen. Further, I am far too talented and independent to ever work somewhere that would do such a thing."

    Good for you that your company doesn't demand it. However, that really wasn't parent poster's point, was it? Rather, it was that something we previously assumed would never be required as a condition for employment now is. And there are quite a few large, successful companies (ones that likely employ employees as talented as you) that do.

    Better to raise the issue now, discuss it in public and get the word out that some industries are actually opposing the proposed legislation. Given the tenor of privacy issues in the US and UK, it's not such a bad idea to try and deal with this now.

  • Not too long ago (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Floritard ( 1058660 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @09:07AM (#19634597)
    there was an article on here of the opinion that we no longer complete projects before they ship. That new dvd player you just bought requires a firmware upgrade right out of the box type stuff. With that sort of mentality about today's electronics are we really anywhere near ready to start putting them into our bodies in the first place? Just look what mere hobbyist hackers are doing to any new DRM that comes along. From an engineering/security standpoint, unless you can find a real robust method of firmware upgrade or failing that make it real cheap to perform the upgrade medical operation, possibly quite regularly, would this even be a practical solution? I'm not sure I have that kind of confidence in our current engineering abilities. Flying cars seemed pretty inevitable at one time too.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @09:42AM (#19634949) Journal
    No, it isn't that easy. For instance, unless you come in america illegally, it will take quite a bit of time to get the appropriate paperwork and such to come in legally and find work. Now, visiting is another story, and I don't think most other countries are that far off. But you cannot just up and find another country.
  • by sohare ( 1032056 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:10AM (#19636115)
    Oddly enough, if forced implants ever came to pass one could probably use this logic to avoid participation. Religious sects get so much leeway, in the U.S. at least, it's almost sickening. Yet if you have a rational, well thought out philosophy based in humanism it's not worth a damn. Yet another strike against thinking for yourself.
  • by mario_grgic ( 515333 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:45AM (#19636631)
    To the people who believe in Jesus Christ and the book of revelation, it is indeed a valid objection.
  • by Bob-taro ( 996889 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @11:53AM (#19636747)
    From Revelation:

    11Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

    18This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.
    I've heard many interpretations of this, but the bottom line is, many Christians will resist to the death any attempt to be "marked" or "implanted" because of this passage. I don't see forced RFID implants happening in this country any time soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 25, 2007 @01:05PM (#19637751)
    Not when you have a One World religion. The Christianity argument will no longer be valid.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur