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.