Orwell denied: Bill to stop employers from sticking RFIDs under workers' skin

Orwell denied: Bill to stop employers from sticking RFIDs under workers' skin

Summary: In an attempt to forestall the arrival of 1984, a California state senator has introduced a bill to ban employers from inserting identification devices under the skin of employees, reports the Associated Press.Democratic Sen.

TOPICS: Government US
In an attempt to forestall the arrival of 1984, a California state senator has introduced a bill to ban employers from inserting identification devices under the skin of employees, reports the Associated Press. Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian has several proposals to ban employers or anyone else from requiring a person to have radio frequency identification devices implanted. The Senator expressed concerns that information provided by RFIDs could easily be stolen with an inexpensive monitor or track people's movements.
"When people understand the vulnerability of the technology and the absolute lack of any privacy protections or limits on information that can be broadcast, they understand why it's a legitimate source of concern," he said. The use of implanted RFIDs makes "you think we really are in a world we never could have imagined," he said.

The devices are used to transmit identifying information via radio signals in badges, passports, driver's licenses and on bodies. But is the senator reading a little too much sci-fi?

Other measures in the works ban the use of RFIDs in driver's licenses and student identification badges before 2011, setting privacy-protection standards for RFIDs, and requiring companies that issue ID cards containing RFIDs to disclose the personal information being stored and it is being protected.

Critics of the measures say the focus should be on preventing inappropriate use of RFIDs, not preventing the use of the technology.

Roxanne Gould, vice president for California government relations for the American Electronics Association, a high-tech industry group, said Simitian is taking the wrong approach, although her organization hasn't taken a position on the implant bill.

"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.

Topic: Government US

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  • RFID

    So you tell me my info is safe, But.. laptops and personal info is stolen constantly with folks personnal info on it. You tell me that You're not "watching me" But you want RFIDS. You tell me that Spam is bad but send me junk mail.You tell me that I can get on the Do NOT Call Directory but the DMV sells my info to the highest bidder. When will it stop do you think? Whats wropng with this picture? I hear this stuff and tink, You know the first jerk who tries to stick that in me is in for a real bad day! Then I remember Oh yeah if the government makes it a LAW it must be OK. Is it not?You know they'd NEVER do anything that's not in MY best interest.
  • Cards, maybe...

    RFID in a card doesn't seem so bad, if data can be protected... But I have my doubts.

    But nobody needs to identify me so bad, that they need to stick a chip in my arm... They might THINK they need to do that, but trust me, they don't. If you're having a hard time figuring out who I am, i can make it easier for you, no problem.

    Anyone who comes at me with one of those things will sure as hell know who I am when it's all done.
  • No..... (Period)

    Oh, it may very well come to that sooner or later.... That, employed or not, we'll all be required to have some sort of gadget implanted ot "attached" to us somehow... But no.... I sure am against rushing it, and bottom line is I am flat out against it.... Give us a break......

    >>>Roxanne Gould, vice president for California government relations for the American Electronics Association, a high-tech industry group, said Simitian is taking the wrong approach, although her organization hasn?t taken a position on the implant bill.

    ?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. <<<<<

    Roxanne says it's in ONE POINT TWO BILLION ID Credentials worldwide..... That's a pretty sizeable percentage of this planets population... so Where are they and WHO has been blessed with this technology and why ??? Also, reassuringly, she points out that there hasn't really been a hassel.... Well, I feel better already, please, someone quick !! Gimme One !!! (NOT)

    Like so many things along these "security" lines anymore.... It's all SOOoooooo for our OWN GOOD !!! BITE ME !!! Good Lord, when are people gonna do like we tell our kids... JUST SAY NO !!! And when a push comes... Say it LOUDER AND PUSH THE HELL BACK !

      My wife works as a temp. She specializes in companies that are merging and changin thier employee base. Every one of the jobs she has had for the last five years issued ID cards that clearly had RFID in them.

      BUT, not once was she told that was what she was carrying. When she asked what information was in them, they refused to tell her if it contained personal info about her.

      Fine - I made her a card wallet that had a copper foil liner. There was a little window where one could see her photo, made of copper screen, soldered to the internal foil envelope.

      When she needed to open a door, she tried to just be behind someone already doing so. When that failed, she could take the card out and scan it, then replace it in the foil lined wallet.

      In one case, the employer actually asked her why they could not track her card while she was at work. Since she was near the end of her contract term (18 months is the legal limit for retaining temps unless they are offered permanent positions), she told them clearly that she did not appreciate thier attempts to track where she went when she was not on company time, and that she would continue to carry the card in the wallet that blocked the RFID.

      A month after her contract was over, we found out that they instituted a policy that attempting to block the tracking of the cards, EVEN WHEN NOT ON COMPANY TIME would result in termination.
  • Roxanne Gould is a Shill

    Roxanne Gould (or should that be Goa'uld?), is the WORST authority to ask about ethical use of RFID technology.

    She represents a company who's first, foremost, and only concern is making money from the use of RFID technology. They effectively see no difference between a person, and a box of cargo.

    Three cheers for Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian for taking action against a major threat to personal freedom!
  • Definitely Orwellian

    If I correctly understand the article, the Senator from California is interested in protecting citizens of that state from an invasive attempt by anyone who wants to implant a RFID chip in their body. That's a matter of individual rights, and anyone who would disagree with that most certainly is in the camp of Big Brother Bush. Roxanne Gould sounds like the typical business type that has forgotten that consumers are what move this country forward.

    See more on Orwell's Big Brother effect on government and business in my blog, "The Dunning Letter" at: http://thedunningletter.blogspot.com/search?q=Orwell

    Jack E. Dunning
    Cave Creek, AZ
    Nasty Jack
    • Invasive medical procedure legislation

      Delaware already has such legislation. Not specifically addressed to RFID implants, it nonetheless makes it illegal to force or coerce anyone to undergo any surgical procedure for any reason.

      Thus, it would be illegal for any empoyer, or even the state itself, to demand that anyone have an RFID implant.

      If they tried to make it a condition of employment, it would continue to be illegal to attempt to enforce that policy.

      The same law allows urine or hair testing, but employers can not demand blood testing.
      • I've gotta .....

        ....do alot more pokin' around about the RFID situation. I think everybody should. You know, it wasn't all that long ago that more people had a definite concern about their personal rights of privacy. People would get flat out torqued off if someone else was messing with their privacy and actually DO something abvout it. NOW... Folks don't give a second thought to buying cell phones that can record virtually anyones private business and immediately send it away to.... anyone else !!!! Especially since 9-11 there has been a huge jump of various means and tactics of observation of individuals and the public in general, and the RFID is just another one.... People better start saying NO !!! BUT, Folks, let us remember that so much of this is for our own good....
        What's next... rearview mirrors on toilets ????
    • Yessiree Bob !!! (I MEAN Jack !!!)

      Yessir, that's pretty much it in the proverbial "nutshell" !!

      And as Dr_Zinj here has pointed out, Roxanne is with a company and companies are out to make money... No matter WHAT it may cost you and I in the run.... I'm not preaching here, but like Jesus in the bible said "The Love of money is the root of all evil... (notice that it's not money itself but the love of it).
      So Very True... Alot of folks will do virtually ANYTHING to get their hands on MORE of it...
      And the situation with Hempman's wife is outright WRONG... (How dare I... Maybe the black choppers are on their way from Cheyenne now to adjust my attitude !!! Lol... ) Not all that funny either... I'm pretty surprised that there haven't been more replies to the article. So many people just seem to be so sedated concerning such things anymore, right !? And by the way there Nasty Jack, I like your Blog... !!!!

      Please excuse the rattling on folks... got PO'd here....
  • Dr_Zinj's Personal Attack

    I just read a comment by someone who goes by the impressive nickname of "Dr Zinj" wherein he/she/it responds to Roxanne Gould's opinion on RFID technology by making fun of her name and by comparing her to a loathsome reptilian creature (a "Goa'uld"). More importantly, Zinj accuses Ms. Gould of being a "shill" - a term describing a participant in a criminal conspiracy who pretends to be an ordinary person to gain the trust of an innocent victim.

    Zinj, you accuse Ms. Gould of being unethical. Your tactics throw light on your own questionable sense of ethics. I have no doubt that you are truly a "shill" - pretending to be an ordinary person when in reality you are a so called "privacy advocate" who is terrified of any new technology, so terrified that you are reduced to base insults and name-calling.

    Everyone agrees - yes, even Ms.Gould - that implanting RFID chips into people against their will is very creepy and should be prohibited. But the problem you, Zinj, share with the rest of your Luddite friends, is that Roxanne is right: RFID technology is not only safe and secure, it also protects the very thing you are terrified of losing - your privacy. But you don't get that, do you? Why? Because, from your very limited and uneducated perspective, RFID is new, and anything new is bad.

    Zinj, if you have any valid points to make about RFID, you lost that opportunity by resorting to such base argumentative tactics. Senator Joe Simitian - the person you cheer in your nasty comments - is not served by your support. You accomplish nothing but the discrediting of your message and smearing the Senator through his unfortunate proximity to you.
    • zzedd123

      Okee Doke there Mr. zzedd123 <<<<<

      According to Roxanne Gould in the posted article, all she DOES do is defend the RFID Technology. The first line is pretty plain on that point, ?Our bottom line is we?re opposed to anything that demonizes RFID's". And personally, I definitely agree that she sure sounds like any other corporate representative, defending her mentors ideas.... And will continue at any cost... Safe and Secure ???? Please zzedd123, have a wee bit of foresight.... I think it is easy to see that Zinj was also saying that, due to Roxanne's position as spokesperson for the company, she makes for an unreliable authority on the subject.
    • /laugh

      zzedd123, I found your diatribe to be of great amusement, as well as being 4 times more volumous than my original post. Too bad it's lacking very much in the way of realism. You sound like Ms Gould is a personal friend of yours. So I'll return the favor. /grin

      A quick wiki of the word "shill" would have brought you the following:

      A shill is an associate of a person selling goods or services or a political group, who pretends no association to the seller/group and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer. The intention of the shill is, using crowd psychology, to encourage others unaware of the set-up to purchase said goods or services or support the political group's ideological claims.
      'Shill' can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws. In this sense, they would be an implicit 'shill' for the industry at large, as their income is tied to its prosperity.

      Ms Gould definately fits the description in the second paragraph. She's definately an apologist for the company, and her quote in the article certainly shows that she is overlooking the flaws of RFID. And widespread adoption of the technology definately would be to her personal benefit.

      Now if you'd really been much of a Stargate: SG1 fan, you'd know that the Goa'uld wax eloquent about the advantages of being a host to them, at least when they can't force themselves on people. Obviously they reap personal benefits from implantation. So the functional parallel with Ms Gould is valid. Seeing that Ms Gould is the VP of a California-based company, and California is the best known location for visual media production, which Stargate: SG1 is an instance of (even though they actually produced the show in Canada); and the play on words becomes self-evident.

      New technology doesn't bother me the slightest. It's the feild in which I make my livelyhood. However, I tend to have a much more native american viewpoint in evaluating possible impact over multiple generations (I understand the Abnaki make decisions on a 7 generational basis.) I also have a Granite State and Libertarian attitude toward the protection of privacy and the minimalization of government surveillence.

      RFID implantation of people, or even the requirement to carry RFID documentation to be used in transactions, is one of the worst Orwellian threats to privacy and freedom in the United States today. The ability to track people's location and behavior gives the ability to control that behavior. The federal government has already tried twice (at least that we know of) to implement a defacto national id card. The current trends all indicate that such a system would be easy to add RFID technology to; most likely by executive order or even by a regulation that never goes through the electorial process. In the hands of a benevolent government, damage might be minimal, although cloyingly suffocating. However, no government ever stays the same. And this technology in the hands of a dictatorial, fascist, or totalitarian government would be a nightmare nearly beyond imagination.

      Finally, your argument that "RFID technology is not only safe and secure, it also protects the very thing you are terrified of losing - your privacy" is completely wrong. It does NOTHING to protect privacy. It does, to a very limited extent, protect your identity - but I could probably come up with a dozen easy ways around that if I wanted to.
      • Glad you're not in charge.

        My original post objected to your low-brow argumentative tactics. You have certainly cleaned that up, but now I respectfully object to your shallow reasoning.

        You state: "I could probably come up with a dozen easy ways around that if I wanted to."

        Tell me what they are. Tell me even one way. I've been studying this for years now, and have found no instance - outside of controled experiments - where data on an RFID tag was taken without the help of the person holding the card.

        You clearly know nothing about this technology. You state: "The ability to track people's location and behavior gives the ability to control that behavior." I disagree, but let's say you're right.The RFID uses that are subject to Simitian's bills can't be used to track anyone - other than a secured location knowing who enters or exits. Are you against that?

        RFID is intended to replace mag strip cards - which are way easy to skim. RFID data is difficult to skim, or to steal, especially if it is encrypted, especially if mutual authentication is used, especially if the cards are designed to prevent tampering - which they are.

        Roxanne Gould is not ignoring the dangers of the technology: she is pointing out that the dangers you and those like you are afraid of simply do not exist. Just because you can imagine a problem doesn't mean that problem is real. Just because you are afraid of something doesn't mean a law should ban what you are afraid of. I am afraid of spiders. My fear doesn't justify legislation to do away with them. Your fear of RFID doesn't justify legislation banning or imposing crippling regulations on RFID.

        Now that you have explained yourself better, I am very, very glad that you and those like you have no place at the table where decisions regarding RFID are being made. You irrationally fear a very safe, secure, incredibly useful technology.

        You are free to avoid RFID. You are free to do without cell phones (which can be used to track you) and you are free to not use credit cards (which will all have RFID in the very near future). You are free to avoid buying a parking pass that lets you into a parking structure when you hold a card up to a reader. You are free to refuse to wear an RFID bracelet that is designed to prevent you from being mistaken for some other patient when you go to the hospital . You are free to avoid using the express lanes at toll gates that use RFID tags to speed up traffic. You are free to do all of this. You are free forbid your child from wearing an RFID bracelet when you go to an amusement park (designed to prevent a stranger from walking out of the park with your kid).

        You are free to avoid the hundreds and hundreds of RFID uses that help us live better lives. But I am damned glad you won't be able to effectuate your apparent ignorance and paranoia to take those choices away from the rest of us.
  • Style defines content.

    First of all, the tone of your rebuttal to my comment was vastly different than Zinj. You did not defame me. You did not challenge my ethics for supporting RFID technology and opposing Senator Simitian's bills. Instead, you delivered reasoned, civil argument that deserved a reasoned, civil reply.

    You made some very good points. However, the problem with this discussion is that the article we are referring to reported on events out of context.

    Senator Simitian is proposing banning RFID use in drivers licenses, in schools, and is proposing heavily regulating even the most simple and most secure use of RFID - but only in governent issued identificaiton cards. He has many reasons for wanting RFID banned in some government issued IDs and heavily regulated in all others. He fears that the information on these cards can be skimmed, and that the cards themselves can be used by Big Brother to track people's movements. These are all legitimate, reasonable concerns.He asks"should government be able to require that people carry around identification cards that broadcast their private information."

    The electronics industry as a whole opposes the Senator's bills because he - like most of the publc - misunderstands the technology. The cards in question do not broadcast anything. They are "passive" RFID technology. Only readers designed to bounce a signal off of that card can read the card - and when private information is on the card, a virtual cornicopia of security methods prevent skimming all together.

    The Senator's skimming and tracking concerns are equally unfounded. Most RFID cards contain nothing more than what is called a "unique identifier" - a string of randomly generated symbols and numbers. If you have ever used a parking pass or a building pass that you hold up to a box and it lets you in, you have used a card with a unique identifier on it. These numbers are not considered "personally identifiable information" because they can't be used to identify anyone. These numbers are kept in secured computers that are not connected to the internet or to a network, so they cannot be hacked into.

    In otherwords, if a bad guy skims your card - and he or she would have to be within inches of you to do it, and the card would have to be perfectly placed for it to happen - all the bad guy would get is a string of numbers that tells the bad guy nothing about you.

    One more thing: these unique identifiers often change from year to year, month to month, even from use to use, which further minimizes the chance that anything bad can happen.

    None of this is true for cards with your picture on it and information that can be seen (RFID cards have information that cannot be captured by someone looking over your shoulde). Magnetic swipe cards are much more easy to skim.

    Now consider that RFID has been around for more than 50 years, with billions being used every day - and despite this use, there is no instance of identity theft. Not one. The Senator argues that RFID info theft is hard to detect, and that might be true - if it is happening at all - but the negative affects of info theft result in identify theft, which is easy to see. The point that escapes the Senator is that, even if it happens, and there are no negative consequences, it is just like someone in a supermarket check out line looking at your drivers license when you use it with the intent of stealing your identity, but then forgetting the information. The act might happen, and the motive might be bad, but nothing comes of it.

    For over 50 years, the electronics industy, which as every incentive to protect consumer privacy and security, has been aware of the factors that concern the Senator. That is why such amazing security and privacy mechanisms exist. If you don't trust the industry, that is one thing, but if you don't like RFID because of reasons that have never happened, that is something else all together.

    When all is said and done, the Senator has solutions that are looking everywhere for a problem to fix. The only things his bills would accomplish is fostering a fear of RFID technology that is not justified.

    Now look again at Roxanne Gould's statement. In this context, she is accurately reflecting the position of the electronics industry: we are against anything that does nothing else but demonize a useful, safe technology that was designed to protect privacy. Period.

    California has never banned a technology. Never. California has, instead, taken measure to discourage the bad use of technology.

    And this is my final point that puts all of this in perspective: the electronics industry - including Ms. Gould - did not oppose the Senator's bill to prohibit the involuntary implantation of RFID chips. Zinj and others who have commented here seem to think the industry likes that sort of thing. If the industry was as evil and nepharious as y'all imply, and cared for money more than human values, it would have been different.

    And that is the ultimate lesson to this discourse: the industry itself has been unreasonably demonized. Evil motives are presumed. And that is prejudice, pure and simple.
    • You're right....

      Like I've said in a previous post, I have to do a bit more research into the RFID area. Like so many many things anymore, the urge to discount from the start is heavy, as the potential use of a given technology for underhanded means has become more apparent to many than it has in years past. Alot of trust has been tested and found wanting in so many ways. I appreciate your post !
      • You are gracious...

        And I appreciate your civility.

        The ultimate point I was trying to make (in an admittedly long-winded fashion) is that prejudice is a bad thing, regardless where it comes from, and that Zinj was prejudiced against Roxanne purely because of who she represented, even though Roxanne was and is correct about RFID vis-a-vis Simitian's repressive proposed legislation.

        The issue is very complex, and, unfortunately, complex issues require more than patience - they require an open mind willing to look at facts and consider all argument prior to forming an opinion. Thank you for your willingness to consider argument that you might not wish to consider at first blush. You are clearly not a privacy fanatic who has abandoned reason in favor of irrational fear. That makes you worth listening to.
    • Not quite

      from zzedd123:

      "In otherwords, if a bad guy skims your card - and he or she would have to be within inches of you to do it, and the card would have to be perfectly placed for it to happen - all the bad guy would get is a string of numbers that tells the bad guy nothing about you."

      It is more like a few hundred inches:


      From the article.

      This issue received much media attention and caused a huge public outcry. Combiend with the State Department?s realization that these tags could be read from greater distances than originally thought, the decision was made to redesign the proposed system mid-project to make it less susceptible to eavesdropping and skimming. The State Dept. now admits that these tags can be read up to 10 feet away, but others including King, think the range is even greater. (At DefCon 2005 an RFID chip was read at a distance of 69 feet, but the type of chip wasn?t specified, and King doubts it was an ISO 14443 chip. The NIST has claimed to read a 14443 chip at 30 feet though.) Part of the work King is involved in are experiments to try and determine an accurate range for these RFID tags, though that part of the research is not yet complete.

      "These numbers are kept in secured computers that are not connected to the internet or to a network, so they cannot be hacked into."

      Which is secured until someone makes a copy of it to a usb drive and leaves it in the back of his car to get stolen with his radar detector: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/57968.html
      • Yes. Quite. Look closer.

        The article you refer to examines RFID tags that are not commonly used. There are hundreds of kinds of RFID tags. Depending on the design, they can be read from a long distance (like the ones Walmart uses for inventory control) or they can only be read from a very short distance (like the ones used for secure building access).

        Just because the US Government bought the wrong chips for their intended use doesn't mean other uses are not secure. Just ask the Austrians: their passports have RFID chips in them that get the job done. Sure, they may cost more, but security is worth the extra cost.

        Roadster, your primary analytical error is due to a common failure prevalent in the reationary/Luddite hyper-privacy cult - i.e., finding fault with one kind of technology and accusing all forms of that same technology with having the same faults.

        I realize that some of this is difficult to understand, but let me just make it simple:

        Even though RFID technology has been in use for over fifty years and there are more than six billion RFID uses every week around the world, no one has ever documented one single example of anyone stealing information from an RFID tag without either the person carrying the card knowing it or helping the thief steal it. Sure, there are hypothetical concerns and controlled laboratory experiments with no application to the real world that show it might be able to happen, but 6 billion uses without even one showing of any harm is an incredible success rate that speaks for itself. Magnetic stripe cards are not even close having such a success record.

        The reasons for the RFID security success is simple - the laws of physics make it very, very hard for bad guys to read RFID cards from long distances. The vast majority of RFID tags are called "passive RFID" and these tags don't broadcast anything. They are just a piece of copper foil with information encrypted on them. For the system to work, a "reader" - i.e., that little box you hold your parking pass up to to get you into the parking structure - sends a radio signal to the card. The signal bounces off of the card and back to the reader.

        Short distances use very little energy to do this. Not only is this cheaper, it is more secure. But a reader that can bounce a signal from a longer distance uses more energy in that radio beam. The longer the distance, the more energy, and the more energy, the hotter the beam will be. As a tech wizard recently explained it to me "sure, you can read a passive RFID card from a long distance, but when you did it, you would literally cook the person holding the card."

        In otherwords, although it is theoretically possible to read a passive RFID tag from a long distance, it can't be done without the holder of the card noticing.

        Now consider that the human body itself, filled with water, absorbs the radio signal. Finally, add to the mix the fact that there are a wide variety of security systems - such as encryption, single and mutual authentication, and biometrics - that can be used to make the information on the card even more secure, and you see why 6 billion RFID transactions take place every week without anyone secretly stealing the information on those cards.

        But let's not stop there. In your comment above you latched onto the read range issue but ignored the unique identifier issue. Remember, the vast majority of RFID tags used by people contain nothing more than a long sequence of numbers and symbols called a "unique identifier." Let's say that none of what I said above is true. Even in that case, the most a bad guy will get is that long series of randomly assigned numbers and symbols - and thats it. Not your name. Not your picture. Nothing except a really long, randomly generated, unique number that tells the bad guy nothing about you.

        You point out that unique identifies stored in secured servers are still vunerable to an inside job where "someone makes a copy of [the unique identifier number] to a usb drive and leaves it in the back of his car to get stolen with his radar detector."

        You're right. That could possibly happen. But this is true for any data system using magnetic swipe cards. They are even more vulnerable to inside jobs, but no one is trying to ban that technology. Instead, there are laws criminalizing the pirating of information in that manner.

        And that's the point. Everyone, especially the electronics industry, agrees that private information should be secure. The problem is that RFID is being demonized by privacy groups that, truth be told, don't know their passive RFID from their active RFID. The irony of all of this is that RFID actually makes us safer and more private. RFID protects users from identity theft. RFID is so secure that all credit cards will be using RFID to speed up commercial transactions AND make those transactions more secure.

        However, roadster, don't take my word for it. Please feel free to avoid RFID uses - and, while you are at it, throw out your cell phone because it is much more likely that you can be tracked by using a cell pnone, or that your private conversations can be monitored, than it is likely anyone will ever steal information off of an RFID card.

        The world will gladly move forward without you.
  • They can implant an RFID in me after

    They can implant an RFID in me after they pry my cold dead fingers from my gun!

    The Second Admendment is more important now than ever!