Radio Frequency Identification: Widespread
              Implications
Technological advancements in recent history have provided people with the means to
accomplish our goals in ways that woul...
optimally deal with its corresponding tag. Since passive tags do not have their own power source they
require energy in th...
Having a chip implanted in your dog seems very science fiction and maybe a little scary, but wouldn’t
you do it if it mean...
was bank account information, identification, passport information and other personal information,
then it would be much e...
become affordable on a larger scale to the general public. By the time the general public has come
around to the idea of i...
more efficiently run society. Something as simple as having to look for your keys in the morning is now
overlooked permane...
The idea of privacy differs between older and younger generations. An older generation will
view privacy as something impo...
REFERENCES

1. Baase, Sara. A Gift of Fire, Social, Legal and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Interenet. Pearson
   P...
References Incomplete still a work in progress
Interview Questionnaire
The interview is a simple string of questions quite straight forward. The participants are given a...
Interview 1



1. Do you currently use or own any type of radio frequency identification system, if so which type. (Ex:
  ...
Interview 2

1. Do you currently use or own any type of radio frequency identification system, if so which type. (Ex:
   E...
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Radio Frequency Identification: Widespread Implications

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Radio Frequency Identification: Widespread Implications

  1. 1. Radio Frequency Identification: Widespread Implications
  2. 2. Technological advancements in recent history have provided people with the means to accomplish our goals in ways that would have previously been unattainable. Something like implanting a microchip into all humans in order to monitor their every action may be far out. Never the less, of the advancements over the years, radio frequency identification chips seem to be one of the newer underdeveloped fields. Esso gas stations provide customers with a method of payment that comes in the form of a miniature antenna. This miniature antenna, or speed pass, already utilizes RFID technology. Radio Frequency Identification, RFID’s, serve in similar functionality to bar codes such as the bar codes on the back of a cereal box. RFID’s are microchips capable of storing and retrieving information remotely through the use of an RFID reader. The entire RFID package consists ultimately of three parts which includes a transceiver (reader), a transponder (tag) and the corresponding software to go with it. Presently, researchers are attempting to develop a universal method of tracking which implements RFID’s. Wal-Mart along with the U.S. Department of Defense has already requested that their vendor’s use RFID tags for shipments. With the ability to store and retrieve information RFID’s have the potential to become much more than basic bar codes. The use of RFID’s does not stop at tracking merchandise, it is only the beginning. With so many potential uses I will focus primarily on implanting RFID’s in humans and the implications that come with them. RFID’s can be further spliced into three distinct types; active, passive and semi-passive. An active RFID tag contains its own internal power source which it uses to power the tag and broadcast responses to the reader. “Many active tags today have operational ranges of hundreds of meters, and a battery life from several months to 10 years.” (1) Active tags will generally be larger and more expensive due to the cost and size of the battery. With larger more powerful devices they may inhibit the ability to store data gathered from the reader. Passive RFID tags do not contain an internal power source which allows for them to be tremendously smaller than active tags. The passive tag will become active (powered) only when a reader is nearby. “The minute electrical current induced in the antenna by the incoming radio frequency signal provides just enough power for the cmos integrated circuit to power up and transmit a response.” (1) With passive tags, there is always a higher probability of errors because they are only connected to the reader briefly. Passive tags will usually be read only, however, the method depends on the radio frequency and the antenna design. With no onboard battery passive tags are remarkably smaller in size and still capable of transmitting large distances. The third type of tag is a Semi-Passive RFID tag. A semi-passive tag hosts an internal power source which allows the microchip to be constantly powered. The broadcasting of the signal requires additional power from the reader. The reader must power them up in order to transmit data, however, they require far less energy to transmit and power up much faster than passive tags. Semi-passive tags have a higher sensitivity to the reader which gives them faster response times. With semi-passive tags there are three main advantages which include, having greater sensitivity than passive tags making them less prone to errors. The battery also has a longer life cycle than active tags because they are hybrid batteries (power themselves or powered by other). Having their own battery enables them to perform active functions under their own power. Most of the transferring of information is performed by the reader. Depending on the specifications of the reader there can be different methods for importing/exporting data to or from the tag. The antenna type also plays a vital role in reading the tags. The antenna is specifically designed to
  3. 3. optimally deal with its corresponding tag. Since passive tags do not have their own power source they require energy in the form of voltage from the antenna. There are low frequency, high frequency and ultra high frequency each defining a different type of energy production in order to power the tag. Different energy levels associated with each type of antenna will also directly affect the read range and read speed. Some additional factors which affect the read range are the frequency used by the reader as well as the transponder antenna. Location of the tag is also important to the reader, such things as humidity, metal or water can interfere with the parsing of information. Larger tags, an active RFID tag for example, is larger in size and thus capable of storing far more information for reading and writing. One of the great benefits provided by RFID technology is the elimination of the need for line-of-sight reading that bar coding depends on (3). With the ability to store and retrieve information wirelessly we can begin to hypothesize about the potential uses of this remarkable technology. One of the main factors preventing the widespread use of RFID’s is the issue of cost. With the technology still being relatively modern, the costs are still high. It is hard to make an accurate declaration of how much RFID’s actually cost because it depends on a large variety of factors. Depending on use, volume and readability alone can mean the difference of $10 million. They have yet to become widespread enough for the average corporation to utilize them. RFID’s first came into existence somewhere during World War II when fighter pilots realized that they had no means of distinguishing between an enemy and an ally plane. Of course the RFID’s were not as advanced as today. Pilots simply would broadcast a signal on a certain frequency identifying them to their own troops. In present time, the uses of RFID’s is still somewhat limited, nevertheless, they have already been implemented on a large scale with a variety of uses. In the shipping world alone, RFID’s can replace bar codes by storing information about the product such as where it has been, where it is and where it is going as a start. Inventory is definitely one of the primary uses of RFID’s simply because when dealing in large quantities it is far more efficient for a computer system to perform any necessary calculations. The RFID can also be used as a monitor of humidity, climate, vibrations (was the parcel dropped) and other external physical attributes such as gas levels. This can be extremely useful for shipments containing food that may need to be kept in a certain climate. When an item is lost or missing, RFID’s eliminate any physical searching because the reader can tell you exactly where it is or where it was last registered. Credit cards and debit cards have just recently implemented the RFID’s in their plastic cards which communicate with the reader or ATM so that there can be no uncertainty as to whether or not it is a valid card. RFID’s have the ability to speed up the entire consumer/buyer experience. By having a simple organized method for tracking inventory, it makes for a more efficient business world. While tracking seems to be one of the most influenced trades, there are still several other areas where they would make life easier. Instead of having a dog collar everyone would have their dogs implanted with RFID’s which would help ensure that the dog does in fact belong to you and prevent you from losing it. If the dog did happen to end up lost then anyone would be able to scan your dog and possibly return it.
  4. 4. Having a chip implanted in your dog seems very science fiction and maybe a little scary, but wouldn’t you do it if it meant keeping your pet a little safer. When RFID’s first became functional as proper identification as well as store readable data, it was greatly sought after by the medical community. In medicine, there is not always time to do basic tests, blood work for example, while a patient may not have that much time. Perhaps the patient has no working memory or is incapacitated and cannot communicate. For patients to have, on their persons at all time, a file containing all their relevant/past medical information would be a tremendous benefit. This is one of the potential uses that can help keep people safe from drugs they may be allergic to or needless repetitive tests. “RFID chips would help me when I’m getting a patients history. They often lie, forget or intentionally leave out important anecdotes.” (Dr. V) Since patients don’t always tell the truth it would be beneficial to have documented notes on whatever the problem may be. The amount of time it takes for the Doctor to visit each patient can be cut down substantially with the implemented use of RFID’s. “Errors in surgery would greatly diminish.” (Dr. V) With errors in surgery every year killing thousands could be avoided completely. There will also be people who claim that the risk of having a problem would be too high. Through experience with computers, things do not always work the way one might expect them to, or at all. An instance such as a failure to transmit or damaged tag would be catastrophically bad for someone going into surgery with no alternate form of information. RFID tags would likely experience the same technical difficulties one might find with an ordinary computer. Having so many different uses, some of the shortcomings can be classified under one category, security. With security being such an important issue these days, schools and universities would greatly benefit from RFID’s. High schools are slowly, due to insurance issues, placing security cameras and security locks on all entrances to the school. Through the implementation of RFID’s there could be systems that monitor all the students within the school boundaries and a supervisor would be able to instantly locate any person not with the proper identification. Students and parents would feel safer from trespassers as well as be able to track the amount of class their child attended as well as where they ate lunch. The same way as American Express tracks everywhere you use your card, the RFID would be constantly tracked just based on the amount of readers scattered around and there would be an accurate depiction, with time references, of what each person did every day. The RFID’s would not be read fully by all the readers just a simple scan of identification. By implementing RFID’s for everybody would greatly reduce the amount of criminal activity anywhere that the RFID’s would register. People evading the law would not be able to hide for very long before being tracked down. A complex system of RFID’s would have the power to store information on patterns in human behavior, habits, travel time and many more statistics. Some of these statistics would serve no purpose, however, many of the stats could be analyzed and further understandings of human nature could be revealed. The type of information stored on the RFID can be anything from a small text file consisting of a name, to a large document containing all kinds of information about anything. If, stored on the RFID,
  5. 5. was bank account information, identification, passport information and other personal information, then it would be much easier going through the airport or going to the bank. Instead of carrying around a wallet full of cards and paper, everyone would be implanted with an RFID tag storing all that information which, upon request, could be accessed and read by a certain party. Similarly to new car keys with RFID’s imbedded in them, people would have RFID’s imbedded in them. With the RFID’s implanted, people would seldom need to carry anything around. The RFID chips are so versatile that they would be able to function as house keys (through RFID communication of course), bank cards, regular identification and anything else that can be stored in a computer file. The functions of an RFID are already performed to a smaller degree in a less efficient manner allowing for much improvement in the technology. Many people already carry one if not multiple RFID tags on their person. An example of how an implanted tag would work is the Esso speed pass system. Recall that Esso gas stations provide customers with RFID tags as a method of payment almost identical to a visa card but with almost zero wait time and no plastic card, just a little key type device. It would not be very difficult to move from having the RFID on your keychain to storing the tag somewhere as discrete as under your skin. Instead of carrying around key chains full of keys and RFID tags, everything would be stored just beneath the surface of the top of your hand. A simple wave of your hand within the vicinity of the reader range would be enough to communicate with the reader. With sensitive information stored on the RFID, there becomes an issue of the wrong person accessing that information. Even with passwords and firewalls, there would ultimately, just like computers, be a group of people who would attempt to steal or corrupt that information. Like computers, RFID’s require the same measure of security in an effort to keep that information secure. The potential for thieves stealing information through the use of RFID’s seems like it could cause issues. In an effort to combat some of the privacy risks many of the higher-end RFID tags are able to authenticate the RFID reader, however, most tags do not due to higher costs or higher power consumption. One of the prototypes for an RFID with an incorporated security system is the RFID Guardian. The Guardian system can be thought of as windows or UNIX which controls all the system functions which includes an integrated firewall. As soon as the RFID tag is implanted, control is effectively lost. Anyone with a reader and a roaming radio frequency could potentially scan your ID tag and in various cases do different things with that power. Since most of the information is usually stored on a remote server hosted by the RFID owner, the intruder has the option to compile their own database on their own remote server. To some people, having personal information monitored and/or stored is not enough to concern themselves with, however, most people would almost certainly rather have that information kept private. There are already government maintained public records available to the public. (5) Most uses of this public information will not harm anyone but there is the potential and identity theft happens quite often. It seems to be a matter of protecting all private and personal information. With so much emphasis on security of data, there will no doubt be strong methods of protection from hackers and alien readers. The uses for RFID’s are seemingly endless as they have already begun to grow in consumption and diminish in cost. Given some time, the cost of RFID’s will decrease enough to the point that they will
  6. 6. become affordable on a larger scale to the general public. By the time the general public has come around to the idea of implanting microchips into themselves, technology will have advanced to the point where satellites would be able to read the RFID tags. The government would then be able to store all that personal and private information on one of their servers in order to compile a database of every person on the planet. With everyone imbedded with RFID tags there are going to be an enormous amount of implications that come with this technology. In a hypothetical future, the majority of the population is already implanted with RFID tags. By this time, it has already become impossible for people without chips to get a job with any medium to large corporation. Since it is difficult to monitor employees who don’t carry RFID tags it is easier to make it a requirement. The RFID tags can now communicate to the employers what time they arrive on average, when and where they take lunch, who (other RFID’s) they have come in contact with throughout the day. All these things are very useful to an employer because it helps them manage their business. With everybody chipped, there are many additional benefits that can be drawn from RFID implantation. Records in general would be kept with greater accuracy and constantly updated. A basic level of security would accomplish a lot more simply by monitoring whether or not a person contains an RFID with a red flag which would indicate something to watch more carefully. One aspect of society that would benefit a great deal from this technology would be police and government intelligence agencies that harvest and mine data in order to find criminals. Petty crimes such as bank robberies and liquor store hold ups would decrease exponentially because with the ability to track the criminal remotely from a satellite it would be easy to catch them. With the use of satellites, criminals running from the law would have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. There are two central concerns when dealing with general population chip implantation. When dealing with RFID clearance, the first risk is people producing phony ID tags. Someone with a fake ID tag would be able to pass through security to get into buildings and airports without raising any red flags. The fear is that when scanning a person’s RFID tag becomes the standard method for checking ID, security around that field will be high, but security in other aspects may suffer. It is tough to argue with someone about whom they are if they have a microchip embedded in their skin with their information on it with a picture of them. RFID tags contain personal identification numbers that are set during manufacturing that cannot be altered. A second concern is for the people without tags and what will become of them. Such as in life there will always be people that for whatever reason will not have RFID tags. Those people without tags would find difficulties whenever dealing with the RFID system. When all public washrooms require the scanning of an RFID tag, those without them will be excluded. Exclusion from jobs, purchasing certain goods would become problematic having no modern form of currency (RFID could be the only accepted form of currency). With the majority of people having RFID’s, the people without tags are now the minority. In a fully RFID compatible world where RFID’s are the main form of currency and required simply to gain access to public buildings there are various affects on society and on the economy. Society would turn into a giant computer network. With RFID’s implemented in everyday use, operations that were once difficult or took a long time can now be accomplished in seconds. This leads to less errors and a
  7. 7. more efficiently run society. Something as simple as having to look for your keys in the morning is now overlooked permanently. Relying so heavily on RFID’s to organize every aspect of everyone’s lives can also have its downside. With such an interconnected community, one device malfunctions and all of a sudden everyone’s got a problem. If someone were to plant a virus on the main RFID server then it would cripple the entire system causing a breakdown in society. In the economy there would be an initial spending period while various organizations and individual people implemented the RFID implants. With RFID’s performing complicated functions at incomparable speeds, loss of jobs is imminent. With a more efficient economy, the cost of production of goods will decrease and consumers will see the benefits through lower prices. In the same way that the subconscious takes advantage of spending with credit cards, RFID’s will work the same way only faster. The customer will be more inclined to make a split second decision and ultimately purchase something they may not have thought through completely. The term “window shopping” will take on a whole new meaning. Retail stores will have items on view in the window of the store where you walk by. Maybe the store has a nice television you really want so you scan your RFID tag in the window reader. The window prompts you to enter a purchase number, you enter “T4” for television number four and later that day the TV is delivered to your door. It seems as though most of the implications of RFID’s on the economy end up being benefits. A major disadvantage to having the entire economy interconnected with all the people in it is that if there happened to be some kind of malfunction inside the system, the entire economy may or may not fall apart. With the inability to track any inventory items or any shipments there is potential for lost or stolen items. Any errors in transfer of data would lead to vast amount of side-effects but would be easily fixed through additional data transfers or patches. If the primary investors and rights belonged to a private corporation or corporations then banks would suffer. When RFID’s are used as currency it is a direct transfer of funds from one person to another and thus eliminates any debit card use fees or credit card fees which end up saving everyone money except for the banks. Banks, as they have already demonstrated, will be the first to widely implement the use of RFID tags. New bank cards use RFID chips embedded in the card to communicate with the reader that the card is authentic. The RFID’s can help decrease theft through bank cards. A stolen credit card number is no longer useful without the RFID tag. The ethical issues surrounding RFID’s are mainly privacy concerns and perhaps the idea of implanting something in a person. In a modern world, people will be up to date on technology and thus be more ‘in the know’. Say you walk into a store and the sales representative reads your tag and now knows who you are, your pant size, your profession and other personal information. This can be viewed as unethical because that person does not have your explicit permission to access that information. If we were to redefine the term privacy we might produce a more modern version of what is acceptable and unacceptable for strangers to have access to. In older times people would leave their children unattended outside to play and they would be fine, but in today’s world that would be unacceptable behavior. The child would likely be abducted or injured or both and the parents would likely be punished for neglecting their children. This example relates directly to privacy in the sense that privacy today is different and should be treated differently from privacy fifty years ago or privacy in fifty years.
  8. 8. The idea of privacy differs between older and younger generations. An older generation will view privacy as something important and everyone should have the right to. As part of a younger generation, it is easy to see that privacy as a whole is for the most part disregarded as an issue. People have no problem sharing passwords, giving out credit card information over unsecure networks and carry around cards (American Express) which are specifically designed to store tab information on purchasing habits of the public. Having an American Express card is theoretically the same as calling up the personal information records company and telling them all the details of your purchasing. With privacy becoming more secure and more specific towards the type of information that needs to be kept safe it is easier to implement the idea of RFID’s to the general public. RFID’s possess the potential to incorporate themselves into the daily routine of every person on the planet. With many of the kinks in the technology taken care of, it opens up a large array of uses ranging from performing the function of a car key to being used as a passport. It is difficult to find the balance between the potential benefits and privacy concerns.
  9. 9. REFERENCES 1. Baase, Sara. A Gift of Fire, Social, Legal and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Interenet. Pearson Publishing © 2008. (5) 2. http://www.jimpinto.com/writings/RFID.html - Benefits outweigh loss of privacy? 3. http://www.aimglobal.org/technologies/RFID/what_is_rfid.asp 4. http://www.out-law.com/page-4326 RFID privacy concerns met with law and technology OUT-LAW News, 26/02/2004 © Pinsent Masons LLP 5. Heather, Sells. Human Implants: Are We Ready? http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/usnews/060918a.aspx CBN News The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. © 2008 6. http://ezinearticles.com/?RFID-and-Business-Ethics&id=113853 - RFID and Business Ethics By Brian Davis December 15, 2005 7. http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Technology-Article.asp?ArtNum=7 Next-Generation Uses of RFID? Copyright© Technovelgy LLC 8. http://www.rfidjournal.com/faq/20 - The Cost of RFID Equipment © Copyright 2002-2008 RFID Journal LLC 9. http://www.technewsworld.com/story/40203.html - Heydary, Javad. Legal Implications of Using RFID Highlighted E-Commerce Times ECT News Network 02/03/05 5:00. 10. http://www.electronics.ca/reports/rfid/application_rfid.html - Chatterjee, Sanjay. RFID Applications, Implementation, and Business Case Analysis with Predictions & Strategic Roadmap 2007 to 2010. July 2007 11. Michael, M. G. The Social Implications of Humancentric Chip Implants. University of Wollongong. 2008. 12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID - radio frequency identification 1 13. http://www.telecomspace.com/wirelessnw-rfid.html - radio frequency identification 2 14. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/R/RFID.html - What is an RFID 3 15. http://www.primidi.com/2004/11/20.html - Innovative uses RFID 4 16. Tanenbaum, Andrew S. A Platform for RFID Security and Privacy Administration,
  10. 10. References Incomplete still a work in progress
  11. 11. Interview Questionnaire The interview is a simple string of questions quite straight forward. The participants are given a brief outline of the topic on hand. The first participant works at a hospital and is a doctor. The second participant works for AOL. The third participant works for Texas Instruments but never replied. 1. Do you currently use or own any type of radio frequency identification system, if so which type. (Ex: Esso speed pass)? 2. Does the idea of implanting a microchip bother you? 3. If you could replace your wallet, phone, keys and other physical objects with an RFID tag implanted in your hand, would you? Why? 4. Would it concern you that strangers would have access to your information? 5. Should all new born babies be required to get chips implanted in them? 6. If everyone had RFID tags implanted in them, what would some of the affects be on your life? 7. That is one of the problems you have with the use of this technology? 8. How does RFID technology impact you in day to day life?
  12. 12. Interview 1 1. Do you currently use or own any type of radio frequency identification system, if so which type. (Ex: Esso speed pass)? Yes, I use a speed pass and visa card which use this technology. 2. Does the idea of implanting a microchip bother you? As long as it is done in a safe manner then I have no problem with it. 3. If you could replace your wallet, phone, keys and other physical objects with an RFID tag implanted in your hand, would you? Why? I prefer the feeling of being in control and interacting with humans which is why I would keep my wallet. 4. Would it concern you that strangers would have access to your information? Yes, I would much rather my information stays my information and not public knowledge. 5. Should all new born babies be required to get chips implanted in them? No, humans are not ready for the technology to be so widespread. Getting chip implants should also be the decision of the person getting the implant. 6. If everyone had RFID tags implanted in them, what would some of the affects be on your life? Working in a hospital it would definitely help us keep track and monitor patients. RFID chips would help me when I’m getting a patients history. They often lie, forget or intentionally leave out important anecdotes. Having the information quickly and without interaction would help decrease the amount of time it takes me to deal with the patient as well as the amount of time the patient spends in the hospital. In surgery, it is not uncommon to have errors, with the use of RFID’s on the patients errors in surgery would greatly diminish. 7. What is one of the problems you have with the use of this technology? Privacy issues are clearly a large concern. Who would have access to your information and how would you be sure that they will keep it secure. Another problem I see is the amount of human interactions that would be replaced by these devices. I personally enjoy interacting with other people. 8. How does RFID technology impact you in day to day life? I use credit cards and an Esso speed pass which help me get things done faster. I still prefer carrying cash because you never know when technology is going
  13. 13. Interview 2 1. Do you currently use or own any type of radio frequency identification system, if so which type. (Ex: Esso speed pass)? I use the Esso speed pass and debit cards because they are much quicker and more convenient than traditional methods. 2. Does the idea of implanting a microchip bother you? Yes, I think that the implantation of a microchip is a breach of our freedom and an invasion of our privacy. I see no benefits to large corporations having knowledge of what I do and what I buy. 3. If you could replace your wallet, phone, keys and other physical objects with an RFID tag implanted in your hand, would you? Why? An interesting idea, but I would only get an RFID implant if my uses were not recorded and distributed into a massive database that labels me as a certain type of individual. 4. Would it concern you that strangers would have access to your information? Absolutely, if I had a chip in me that contained all my financial and personal information and it ended up in the wrong hands it would be a disaster. 5. Should all new born babies be required to get chips implanted in them? No, I think that the implementation of a chip should be decided by the person when they are physically and mentally mature enough to make a decision of that magnitude. Nobody, even adults, should be pressured into getting an RFID implant. 6. If everyone had RFID tags implanted in them, what would some of the affects be on your life? Personalized advertising when I’m at the gas pumps for example. It would also be nice to see all of my financial and personal information organized nicely for me to view. 7. What is one of the problems you have with the use of this technology? My first problem would be the danger of misuse by uneducated people in the technology industry. Another issue is the risk of hackers using my information for their benefits and the large corporations compiling databases with my information. 8. How does RFID technology impact you in day to day life? It makes life a little more convenient. It makes spending money a lot easier.

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