Because you just might get it, is how the end of that old saw goes. It appears that some of the people who pushed for certain ‘security measures’ might be reaping more than their share of the problems due to their short-sighted ideas.

In an article from Yahoo News, a problem with the once widely held panacea of RFID has come up, being shown to be problematic, and easily and cheaply read from some distance.

Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.

It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker’s gold.

Zipping past Fisherman’s Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians’ electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he’d “skimmed” the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.

Embedding identity documents — passports, drivers licenses, and the like — with RFID chips is a no-brainer to government officials. Increasingly, they are promoting it as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

But Paget’s February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

He filmed his drive-by heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.

Big Brother needs very little, in the way of help these days, where electronic devices make the dreams of Orwell easily confirmed, and possible.

A few days ago, I wrote about how, at a concert setting in Europe, people were being tracked by their Bluetooth headsets, which are becoming almost ubiquitous in this country, helped immeasurably by the decisions of courts ostensibly concerned with traffic safety.

With so many choices available to track unsuspecting citizens, governments must be held to the highest standards of ethics, no matter how impossible that might seem. The nation must become one where its own watchword is integrity, and only then will the citizens be able to know, without doubt, that the life they lead is their own.



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