RFID

Posted: August 1, 2008 in Articles, Timeless
Tags: ,

RFID

Radio frequency identification (RFID) denotes the technology that enables objects to be identified without contact and without their RFID tags being visable. The list of areas that have already embraced RFID technology is substantial, including ski passes, remote controls for vehicle locking systems, anti-theft protection in department stores, logistics processes for retail objects such as pallets, containers, clothing, and idenification for domestic and slaughter animals. In many market sectors, RFID technology is set to replace bar codes. In supermarkets, however, where consumer articles are concerned, the bar code will continue to dominate for many years. (Source: Technology, Systems and Applications)

What’s it’s being used for:

-Hospitals

-Inventory on high maintaince parts. Example: Aircraft parts.

-Manufacturing facilities

-Biochips

-“Sunpass” or “E-Pass” auto tags for automatic highway tolls

-Warehouse, shipping and logistics

-“Save on labor costs”

-Fleet vehicles

-Theft protection

From the Spychips site:
WHAT IS RFID?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification, a technology that uses tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to track items at a distance. RFID “spy chips” have been hidden in the packaging of Gillette razor products and in other products you might buy at a local Wal-Mart, Target, or Tesco – and they are already being used to spy on people.

Each tiny chip is hooked up to an antenna that picks up electromagnetic energy beamed at it from a reader device. When it picks up the energy, the chip sends back its unique identification number to the reader device, allowing the item to be remotely identified. Spy chips can beam back information anywhere from a couple of inches to up to 20 or 30 feet away.

Shown at left is a magnified image of actual tag found in Gillette Mach3 razor blades.Note: The chip appears as the tiny black square component. The coil of wires surrounding the chip is the antenna, which transmits your information to a reader device, which can be located anywhere!

Some of the world’s largest product manufacturers have been plotting behind closed doors since 1999 to develop and commercialize this technology. If they are not opposed, their plan is to use these remote-readable spy chips to replace the bar code.

RFID tags are NOT an “improved bar code” as the proponents of the technology would like you to believe. RFID technology differs from bar codes in three important ways:

1. With today’s bar code technology, every can of Coke has the same UPC or bar code number as every other can (a can of Coke in Toronto has the same number as a can of Coke in Topeka). With RFID, each individual can of Coke would have a unique ID number which could be linked to the person buying it when they scan a credit card or a frequent shopper card (i.e., an “item registration system”).

2. Unlike a bar code, these chips can be read from a distance, right through your clothes, wallet, backpack or purse — without your knowledge or consent — by anybody with the right reader device. In a way, it gives strangers x-ray vision powers to spy on you, to identify both you and the things you’re wearing and carrying.

3. Unlike the bar code, RFID could be bad for your health. RFID supporters envision a world where RFID reader devices are everywhere – in stores, in floors, in doorways, on airplanes — even in the refrigerators and medicine cabinets of our own homes. In such a world, we and our children would be continually bombarded with electromagnetic energy. Researchers do not know the long-term health effects of chronic exposure to the energy emitted by these reader devices.

Many huge corporations, including Philip Morris, Procter and Gamble, and Wal-Mart, have begun experimenting with RFID spy chip technology. Gillette is leading the pack, and recently placed an order for up to 500 million RFID tags from a company called “Alien Technology” (we kid you not). These big companies envision a day when every single product on the face of the planet is tracked with RFID spy chips!

As consumers we have no way of knowing which packages contain these chips. While some chips are visible inside a package (see our pictures of Gillette spy chips), RFID chips can be well hidden. For example they can be sewn into the seams of clothes, sandwiched between layers of cardboard, molded into plastic or rubber, and integrated into consumer package design.

This technology is rapidly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Now RFID spy chips can even be printed, meaning the dot on a printed letter “i” could be used to track you. In addition, the tell-tale copper antennas commonly seen attached to RFID chips can now be printed with conductive ink, making them nearly imperceptible. Companies are even experimenting with making the product packages themselves serve as antennas.

As you can see, it could soon be virtually impossible for a consumer to know whether a product or package contains an RFID spy chip. For this reason, CASPIAN (the creator of this web site) is proposing federal labeling legislation, the RFID Right to Know Act, which would require complete disclosures on any consumer products containing RFID devices.

We believe the public has an absolute right to know when they are interacting with technology that could affect their health and privacy.

Don’t you?

Join us. Let’s fight this battle before big corporations track our every move.

The Original Spychips Rebuttal, by Nicholas Chavez, President of RFID LTD.:

Spychips wrote their book demonizing RFID. RFID Limited wrote this PDF rebuttal. Like everything in life, there’s two sides to every story; usually you have to analyze both sides to get the real deal. I will say that RFIDL’s rebuttal is probably the most respectable debunking I’ve ever seen, and I highly recommend you read it. Spychips seems to imply that all RFID chips can spy on and track you, here RFIDL responds:

“The reason for why attention is drawn to this quote is that much of the rest of the book is predicted on this incomplete definition of RFID. The book’s insufficient definition begs the question “At WHAT distance may items be tracked, precisely?”

“The Answer is quite simple. Passive-or non-powered-RFID chips smaller than a grain of sand have a read distance of no more than a few millimeters, a very short “distance” by anyone’s definition. For the authors scenario of global tracking to be viable, manufacturers would have to place a active—or powered – RFID or GPS enabled tag about the size of a chalkboard eraser in the consumer product of reference. “

Ok, he does have a good point there, except if the tags on store merchandise only has a range “of no more than a few millimeters”, then how does the sensors go off if the tag isn’t deactivated? It’s simple, the typical tags are much larger than a grain of sand, especially with the attennea wrapping around it, under the adhesive. He seems to ignore this factor. Misleading, but I suspect he is stating this in reference to something the Spytags book must have mentioned at that point.

While he does mislead on this point, it’s not a major issue, assuming the tag is deactivated. Later he makes a good point, that even Spytags eventually mentions on page 72. Typically, the tags will be deactivated, therefore there shouldn’t be a threat afterwards.

Here Chavez presents a case for why there should be no concern about being tracked in our homes:

1. Your home would need to be equipped with multiple, if not dozens of RFID

interrogators, at a cost of several hundred dollars each.

2. These interrogators would then have to be connected to the Internet via your

personal connection or maybe by a wide area wireless broadband, where available.

3. The interrogators would need to transmit the data to the appropriate data buyers or

owners.

4. Presumably, you would have to make the choice to place interrogators in your home

and further decide whether or not to use your Internet connection for the purpose of

sending RFID collected data.

5. You would also have to make the choice to not disable the RFID tags associated with

purchased items, by not using a store’s RFID deactivation kiosk such as the one

referenced by the authors in the METRO “Future Store.”

That’s reassuring, but what about how the satellite’s can track RFID biochips world wide, even underwater? The answer is biochips are “active” chips, battery powered, and now they’re even powered from our muscles. I don’t think you have to worry too much about merchandise tags. Furthermore, I doubt they’re really trying to track every person who bought a 12 pack, and if you pay with cash the computers wouldn’t know who you are anyways.

This technology will become interesting when this printing technology proliferates: “This technology is rapidly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. Now RFID spy chips can even be printed, meaning the dot on a printed letter “i” could be used to track you. In addition, the tell-tale copper antennas commonly seen attached to RFID chips can now be printed with conductive ink, making them nearly imperceptible. Companies are even experimenting with making the product packages themselves serve as antennas.”, and cash is used less and less.

Some systems overview:

Cell phone frequencies : near match.

“Mr. Smith, you had 12 beers on your fridge last night, and now there are only 2. You must have a hangover – you’re fired!”

The biggest concerns would have to be in how well the EPCGlobal Network are tied in with the other records systems. If they really were keeping records, in a central database,

that would be stepping over the line in my opinion. Considering all of the things they could attach to the records, it could cause problems. Your Social Security Number would surely be attached to it, which would probably lead to the rest of your personal information.

People would probably not get hired for a job, say if they go to bars, or buy lots of alcohol or buy cigarette’s. These things wouldn’t necessarily ever affect their job performance, yet people may get skipped for employment if they ever had a bender on their “record”. Not that people really should, but that’s not the companies business. The last thing people need is to be informed they didn’t get hired over a kicked addiction, and then go into relapse. This is just one of the any problems that could plague society if they go overboard, but hey what can we do?

Technical details of the RFID specification:

[PDF] Session Code: II MAKING THE MOVE TO RFID Presenters:
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML

Source of images:

http://pl.csie.ntut.edu.tw/93-2-pdf/0328-1.pdf

plus the above linked PDF’s.

RFID News:

http://www.rfidjournal.com/

http://www.rfidnews.org/

http://www.asc.upenn.edu/usr/kfarrall/rfid/interface1.html

http://www.rfidupdate.com/

http://www.networkworld.com/topics/rfid.html

http://www.rfidlog.com/

In the news:

U.S. to require RFID chips in passports

Privacy groups question RFID use in medicine tracking

FCC Loosens RFID Rule for Homeland Security

Long-distance RFID reader

RFID and privacy: Debate heating up in Washington

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