Monday, March 30, 2009

Another political discussion about RFID

Finally RFID is in the news again. A referendum [1] is currently being put together on the issue of RFID in the upcoming Swiss Passport. The arguments are the common ones, citation of known internet stories where different passports have been hacked, RFID wouldn't be secure and people could be traced everywhere. Let me just briefly mention that in these contexts hacking a passport mainly means to read an ID - you know I can read the entire passport by just looking at the pages, does that mean paper printing is insecure;)? Not to mention the ubiquitous tracking device in our pockets, the mobile phone, where nobody complains about.
What, however, is striking, and is independent of RFID as such, is the plan of the swiss government to store all personal data including bio-metric data in a central database. That definitely sounds threatning, however, has nothing to do with RFID! Rather the opposite: RFID allows for de-centralized data-storage and leaves much more control to the owner than reference numbers with central storages...
Why is the campaign actually using a barcode print [2] when accusing RFID!? Btw, the barcode identifies blank video-tapes, just try it out and read it with your phone using Barcoo[3].
Maybe also the approach is wrong: How would people react on the chip in the passport if they would get some discount or rebate when travelling to different countries? Privacy is sacred but easily sold for a 1% discount in the nearby supermarket. Albrecht Schmidt envisions in his recent blog [4] people selling information about their daily life, e.g. their sleeping pattern - perhaps that's not so far-fetched if the discount on the matress is alright...


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