How Not To Make People Feel More Comfortable About RFIDs

from the focusing-on-the-wrong-things... dept

While the folks who are freaked out about RFIDs seem to go a bit overboard on the privacy risks (often suggesting there are no benefits to the technology and it should be banned altogether), it doesn’t look like various governments are doing anyone any favors in easing the concerns about potential privacy violations related to the technology. RFIDs can be quite useful and powerful technology — once it’s acknowledged that there are potential privacy risks involved with them. The real answer is to come up with better technology that an be used to counteract the potential privacy violations, while still allowing many of the benefits. If anything, the concerns being raised to government officials should make them pause and think about better ways to implement the technologies. Instead, they’re plowing ahead with various trials, when they don’t seem to have answers to the privacy questions. In the UK they’re testing RFID license plates that broadcast out details. While many people already use RFIDs in their cars for fast toll payment systems, this is by choice, and the data is often made anonymous — something that doesn’t seem likely in this case. Meanwhile, the US government, which earlier delayed plans to use unencrypted RFIDs in passports, is now running a trial with such passports anyway, using crew members from United Airlines. These moves do nothing to show that anyone is actually thinking about the privacy issues, and leads to articles worrying about the technology rather than focusing on how it can be beneficial.

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Comments on “How Not To Make People Feel More Comfortable About RFIDs”

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Vlatro says:

A Little Rant on Privacy

Privacy advocates have a vaild argument, but ignorance and lack of organization make them counter-productive to their goal. Remember, in the United States, you have NO right to privacy. Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc. There is no guarentee to privacy. Giving someone privacy is more a gesture of respect than a right. And the government is pretty good about respecting people in that way.
The problem has nothing to do with how much people know about you (unless you’re paraniod). The problem is what people are able to DO with that information, and how that will effect the quailty of your life. Crying about “Big Brother” won’t have any impact on the advancement of technologies or laws. Instead of protesting or lobbying politicians to pass new laws that will only constrain technology or further limit the civil liberties we do have in trade for a little more privacy, I suggest actually working to improve the technology. Point out specific flaws you see in it, so they can be addressed. Suggest resoloution to the problems on technological grounds instead of legal. There is a huge market out there for privacy protection. If you can think of a better way to identify people, while ensuring that it is only done by those who are intended, Then say something. Companies are listening, and only the best in this market will survive.
RFID is nothing new it’s been used for over a decade in the workplace to make sure people are at their desk and working while they’re being paid. It’s used to ensure only you with your uniqued ID can access your computer, without having to remember a password. It can transmitt complex information in seconds. What if a tag only held a cypher for decrypting records volenteered by you, held in a database. That’s the way they have traditionally worked. No one can access that information without a unique 10,000 character case sensitive password. Your Tag handles that for you, and without it, it’s virtually impossible to crack. People fear that devices may be made to capture your signal, and clone your tag, much in they way analog cellphones were cloned back in the ’90s. Here is the soloution. Extremely short transmitting range. Great, that’s easy since they already have that. They only really work effectivly from a few feet away. Then, put a button on it. Now it can only be read when you want it to. Most of them have that. Longer Range, involentary transmisson may be a bad idea, but think about it really. In the case of license plates, what data is being sent. VIN Number, Registered Vehical Owner, Model and year. Sensative information, YES. But unless you make it a point to cover the stickers on your windshield every time you get out of your car, anyone in a parkinglot has access to that information. If Tags allow me to pass through a toll road without stopping on my way to work everyday… Allow me to checkout quicker from a grocery store line… Or (God help us) get out of the DMV in under 3 hours, I will sacrafice a bit of privacy. The Technology that could threaten your privacy will become indespensible in a few short years. Now is not the time to fight it, it time to make sure that it’s properly implemented.

Boilerbob says:

Re: A Little Rant on Privacy

There is no guarentee to privacy. Giving someone privacy is more a gesture of respect than a right. And the government is pretty good about respecting people in that way.

The bill of rights does guarentee privacy. Its called illegal search and seizures. The government respects people because that have to. There’s a lot of debate about how much info the government can collect. Research how many files Nixon’s FBI collected on people without their knowledge.

What I will agree with you is your line about it’s what we DO with the information. Your examples do nothing to support that argument. Your technology will allow collecting more data not adding protections.

thatguy says:

Re: A Little Rant on Privacy

“Remember, in the United States, you have NO right to privacy. Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc. There is no guarentee to privacy.”

Um what? Have YOU ever read the Bill of Rights? Privacy is an important issue and there are several documents supporting it worldwide. In the US, it’s the fouth amendment:

Here is a link everyone on the planet should visit. It also names some other important documents from other nations:

Oh and here is a nifty little site I found that is good for doing ACTUAL research. You may want to take a look at it as well:

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A Little Rant on Privacy

Speaking of ignorance…Grizwold vs. Connecticut, anyone? Seems the Supreme Court decided about 30 years ago that there is a, “Fundamental right to privacy.”

Now sure, I know that there are certain factions within the current regime who view this ruling as a mistake, but that doesn’t change the fact that as of right now, there is a legal Right To Privacy in the US.

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