Microchipping pets is a practice that has been around for years. Locating lost dogs and cats has saved many pet owners trouble and heartache. The chips in our credit cards are newer. Resultantly, people have some concerns about the abuse of tech and hacking. However, it is people chipping that has always been a tetchy topic.
While the uses of RFID and the safeguards to prevent theft and tampering are many and growing all the time, people worry about having a trackable chip with personal data inside them. The typical counterarguments range from biblical references to baseless fears over cancer. However, the question of individual liberty and privacy is a different matter.
Will the RFID chip be mandatory? Unfortunately, I can’t accurately predict the future. There are some solid indications that RFID chips, implanted or not, are becoming ubiquitous. However, they won’t be mandatory as implants anytime soon. Lawmakers in at least twenty states have already enacted legislation protecting some or all people from this sort of oversight to prevent abuse.
What’s In It For Me
The myriad uses of RFID chips extend well beyond credit cards and locks. Let’s take a look at what this technology is doing for us already.
- Asset Tracking- The ability to check in every individual item at every stop along its route is changing business. Tracking from manufacturing to the consumer cuts out much of the theft and abuse potential. Fewer losses mean more profit for companies. Additionally the ability to scan means you cut wasted work time. Employees don’t have to visually verify an item or shipment since their RFID scanner can do that with no delay.
- Lost Pets- Chipped pets are scannable. Happily, that lets you get them back promptly.
- Keyless Entry- From Private homes to cars and secure facilities, RFID chips as key fobs, badges or implants make sure no one gets in who shouldn’t be there.
- Attendance- Whether in school ID’s or a document implant in ticket stubs, RFID can verify attendance rates. Sometimes it can log individuals. As implants, it could guarantee students were in school. Plus RFID would cut down on wasted learning time since teachers wouldn’t need to handle role calls.
- Laundry- From uniforms and hotel towels to hi-tech dry cleaning solutions, not losing your washables thanks to RFID is revolutionizing the Laundry industry. Saving time and money is always a bonus.
- Borrowers- Movie rentals and even libraries can easily use RFID tags to be certain whether their stock is in-stock.
- Racing- Figuring out the winner doesn’t need to rely on a visual confirmation when an RFID chip can scan in at the speed of light and leave no question which crossed the line first.
- So Much More- Starting with the ability to interact with smart objects, RFID chips are on the verge of taking the IoT (Internet of Things) by storm.
This list is far from complete. New uses for RFID chips are being added daily.
Unfortunate Side Effects
The downside of microchip implants should be evident after the Snowden revelations, but let’s take a more in-depth look into the dark side of chipping everything. From involuntary tracking to hackers, there are plenty of reasons to approach RFID with caution, but is it more dangerous than current technology?
First, you need to understand that there are three types of RFID chips: Active, semi-active, and passive chips work differently. An active chip transmits continually when powered, and a passive chip only responds to an electrical query and uses the energy from the signal request to respond. A semi-active chip needs a battery. While any variety can be tracked with the right equipment, you cannot, for example, track RFID by satellite as though it was GPS.
The good news is that RFID chips can be keyed to respond only to a particular device. Unfortunately, radio frequencies can be ‘tuned in’ by anyone with sufficient technology. Luckily, RFID is among the safest and most secure technologies ever created.
It’s Not What You Think
Tracking chips don’t allow for continuous following as GPS does. It merely allows someone with the right equipment to see the chip at close range. This verifies that the item, or pet, is where the reader scanned it. Chips would be useful for shipping containers, schools, offices, and vets, but not so great for spies and stalkers.
Embedding RFID in documents or credit cards actually makes them much harder to forge. Research teams at North Dakota State University made some stunning breakthroughs in embedding RFID. For documents that means things like a currency would be much harder to counterfeit. Laser Enabled Advanced Packaging uses a laser to transmit and assemble incredibly tiny chips onto paper and other flexible surfaces. Believe it or not, this means more security instead of less.
A secure encrypted signal might be picked up, but it would be more complicated than you expect to unscramble the information in any useable way. Not to mention, RFID is capable of much more than what we’ve done with it so far. For example, we can now open car and house doors. Likewise, secure checkpoints for high-security businesses can use chips to keep intruders out.
A hacker who picks up an RFID signal can’t necessarily use that for anything. While the potential for abuse is always there, a hacker would need some incredibly expensive and specific equipment to create a second chip. Not to mention, they have to program it with the original signal they stole. The short explanation is that chipped items are less prone to abuse than traditional methods because of the RFID chips.
In The End
Think about it this way. If someone steals your wallet and it has cash, they scored and can spend it. The second thieves try to use an RFID the chip reader sends a signal to your bank. Store surveillance can show who used the card based on the time stamp on the video.
Furthermore, a thief can’t use it as a debit and take money from your accounts without your PIN. RFID cards don’t transmit PIN codes. Also, credit card fraud is protected by the FDIC. Your money is safe, despite the hassle, as long as society functions. But for those still desiring or finding the need for added protection, There are plenty of RFID Blocking products available on Amazon. To find out more, Click Here.
The big “C” is a word frequently used to scare people. Cancer is frightening. Back in 2007, there were some serious concerns over RFID chips causing cancer in animals and what that might mean for humans. Scott Silverman, the CEO of VeriChip Corp told the Associated Press that “millions of pets have RFID implants and there have been no reports of significant problems,” according to medical news today. They also note that it is significantly easier to cause cancer in lab rats than in humans. That’s part of what makes them such ideal test subjects.
In case you are unclear on what all that means, there is no evidence that RFID causes cancer in humans. Furthermore, the radiation from RFID chips might save lives. There’s some sound evidence that “…found that the energy effectively killed/retarded the growth of the three different types of cancer cells.” That means that not only does RFID not cause cancer, but it may, in fact, be a more effective method of treating cancer cells.
New Old Criminal Activities
Some people would rather die, or carry a severed hand with them from a properly chipped person than be tracked, and they admit it openly. All you have to do is read the comments on a story about mandatory chipping to see how crazy people get. Moreover, we know for a fact that thieves will cut someone’s hand off to get at valuables. In 2014 a woman was held down in broad daylight in LA and her attackers cut her hand off for a watch and a bracelet.
Conclusions About the Worst Problems Related to RFID
While the idea of mandatory chipping sounds awful, the reality of what it means isn’t as bad as naysayers fear. Indeed, having your hand cut off is horrifying. At least a chip is less noticeable than an expensive watch, which puts you at the same risk. Additionally, the risks of hacking and cancer are less than negligible.
Can The Government Make Me Get a Chip
Hopefully, you know enough about how the world works to understand it’s preposterous to wonder if the government can flex its muscles. Simply put, yes, it could force you if the legislation changed enough to allow it. Of course, when things are that bad, then citizens usually resist and fight back.
Beyond concerns of violence to obtain false information, there’s already been a petition to prevent human implantation. Sadly the petition was based on false claims and as a result, was mostly unsupported.
In Delhi, RFID chips became mandatory for commercial vehicles this month. Is that a sign of things to come? Maybe, but then again, license plates are compulsory for vehicles, and we don’t have those attached to our trousers yet. The US government even discussed using tags for migrant workers, but given the objections, the idea was dropped. At least, for now, you should be safe, but your pets, wallets, cars, and even your clothing is a different story.
The real problem with RFID chips in people isn’t that they’ll be mandatory for US citizens anytime soon, it’s that they’ll be optional. To be perfectly honest, RFID is looking a lot like it will be the new cell phones, bank accounts, or credit cards. You probably won’t be required to have a chip. However, refusing may put you at a severe disadvantage. There will be options that are closed to you.
There’s a relatively simple, yet unexplored option for resolving the RFID chip problem, at least for most daily uses. If you have a chip in your wallet, then you already know RFID reader blockers exist. Many of us carry RFID protection wallets already. Some of the are useful, and others are more like novelty items. Before we talk about the solution, there are two things you need to know.
Skimming Doesn’t Work
First and foremost, RFID skimming may exist, but there has never been a recorded incident of RFID skimming theft that was verified. The kicker here is that the data transmitted doesn’t include the necessary codes to use the information. In short, there’s no such thing as RFID crime. Now that you know that, it makes this next part almost pointless, but I’ll share it anyhow.
Secondly, RFID blockers are variable. Some are less useful than foil and others work just fine. Primarily, at this point someone can read ‘something’ off a chip, but not something useful, so buying and selling RFID blockers is a bit of a scam. However, given the potential future uses of the tech, you might want to look into RFID blocking material.
While the materials vary as much as their effectiveness, a blend of copper and nickel wires creating a faraday cage-like effect is pretty effective at mucking up the transmission. You can pick up these materials now. Resultantly, you might want to look into keeping a bolt of RFID blocker material in your emergency preparedness supplies. After all, it could also be great for keeping other equipment safe from an EMP or similar attack.
Will RFID chips be mandatory for people? What about livestock, pets, paperwork, and shipments? RFID will likely become the dominant technology that helps us keep track of vital things. Encoding a chip in a patient with Alzheimer’s who wanders off so that they can be safely picked up by police or medical staff and sent home promptly is just one example of how RFID will help.
The abuse potential is undeniable. Anything that can contain all your personal information and open everything from your house to your bank accounts is a potential disaster. However, I would strongly suggest tempering the paranoia. After all, a safe can do the same if it has keys and bank info inside. Plus, they’re a lot easier to get into than an encoded RFID chip.
RFID as a security measure might turn out to be more useful than dangerous. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. Most importantly, if RFID chips are suddenly required by law, someone will find a way to exploit them.