RFID Invades the Capital-Mar. 07, 2005 PT
WASHINGTON — A new smartcard, the type privacy advocates fear because it combines biometric data with radio tags, will soon be one of the most common ID cards in Washington.
Department of Homeland Security workers in May will begin using the new ID card, called the DAC to gain access to secure areas, log on to government computers and even pay their Metro subway fares.
I am very concerned about the advances of the RFID, VeriChip and Biometric Technology. Make no mistake this is Big Brother in the flesh and in everything else.
The DAC, which stands for Department of Homeland Security Access Card, will carry a digital copy of its bearer’s fingerprint and other personally identifiable information. It will use radio-frequency identification and Bluetooth technologies to communicate with reader devices at the department’s offices.
RFID Cards Get Spin Treatment
Conspiracy theorists and civil libertarians, fear not. The U.S. government will not use radio-frequency identification tags in the passports it issues to millions of Americans in the coming years.
Instead, the government will use “contactless chips.”
The distinction is part of an effort by the Department of Homeland Security and one of its RFID suppliers, Philips Semiconductors, to brand RFID tags in identification documents as “proximity chips,” “contactless chips” or “contactless integrated circuits” — anything but “RFID.”
The Homeland Security Department is playing word games to dodge the privacy debate raging over RFID tags, which will eventually replace bar-code labels on consumer goods, said privacy rights advocates this week.
An RFID tag is a microchip attached to an antenna, which transmits unique information to a reader device that can be anywhere from a few inches to several feet away. The technology, with its many names (“contactless chips” has been around for some time), is used in security access cards, E-ZPass automatic toll-paying devices and ski-lift tickets.
Computer scientists and data-encryption experts, the editors of an RFID industry journal — even the makers of the contactless chips themselves — all agree that the Homeland Security Department is using RFID technology.
But the Homeland Security Department is very carefully avoiding use of the term “RFID.” The department, along with Philips, is also backing a trade group that is branding ID documents with RFID tags as “contactless smartcards.”
“We’d prefer,” said Joseph Broghamer, Homeland Security’s director of authentication technologies, “that the terms ‘RFID,’ or even ‘RF,’ not be used at all (when referring to the RFID-tagged smartcards). Let’s get ‘RF’ out of it altogether.”
The Homeland Security Department this spring will begin issuing RFID-tagged employee ID cards (which include fingerprint records) to tens of thousands of its employees. Homeland Security’s employee ID card has “contactless” technology to speed workers’ access to secure areas, said Broghamer. He also wants to replace conventional reader devices, because their metal contacts break down after repeated use.
The department is also evaluating technology pitches from several RFID tag manufacturers, including Philips, for an RFID-tagged passport containing biometric data. The government’s plan will earn billions of dollars for the RFID suppliers while helping security officials track individuals more effectively by detecting their ID documents’ radio signals in airport terminals, or wherever reader devices are present.
The Homeland Security Department and Philips said they worry that the public will confuse the RFID tags in ID documents with those used by retailers, such as Wal-Mart, to track consumer goods. Contactless chips, said Broghamer, are more sophisticated than retail RFID tags, because they can carry more information and can better protect sensitive personal information.
But there is another problem with the “RFID” name: Many people associate the term with radio chips “that blab personal information indiscriminately” to any reader device, said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Privacy rights groups such as the EFF, the American Civil Liberties Union and CASPIAN have for years argued that RFID tags on consumer goods could be used to spy on individuals.
That is why Homeland Security is engaging in doublespeak, to dupe Americans into accepting RFID tags on their passports, said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program.
“It’s a frightening, Orwellian use of the language,” said Steinhardt, referring to the “contactless” branding effort. Steinhardt called the RFID tags the Homeland Security Department is using, which have faster processors and more storage capacity than retail tags, “RFID on steroids.”
Government agents will use reader devices to track individuals wherever they use their RFID-tagged identification documents, Steinhardt and Tien said.
“They can call it a contactless chip,” said Tien, “but it is still RFID. And it shares virtually all of the same vulnerabilities.”
What information is in the Biometric, RFID or VeriChip you ask?
Biometric chips will be capable of storing all the following information:
Name, date of birth, expiry date
Copy of handwritten signature
Digital photo of face
Additional personal details, such as address, profession, etc
Additional document details, such as issuing authority, date of issue, etc
Emergency contact information
Automatic border clearance details
I’m sure this list could easily be expanded to include one’s medical, DNA, biological hereditary roots etc.,
They say that we will at first have a choice to be chipped but eventually it will be mandatory so that we can travel, bank, and “belong and have access to the Group” or workplace etc.,
And this update to Chipped Cell Phones.
Biometric Cell Phones Coming – But US Will Be Last
By Jack M. Germain
Part of the ECT News Network
10/30/04 1:30 AM PT
Steve Mansfield, vice president of marketing with AuthenTec, estimates that new biometric features will be built into mobile phones in China during the first half of next year. These same features will hit the European market during the second half of 2005. “The U.S. will see those same features by the end of 2006,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Educate yourself people. This is our future. Yes, the Chip has some viable uses but the real USE is to CONTROL!!