[Politech] John Gilmore's horrific, dystopian view of an RFID world [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Thu Apr 29 2004 - 21:24:45 PDT

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    [I always learn something from John Gilmore, and this is no exception. 
    Although parts of his dystopia are already true: I travel with a cell 
    phone, 802.1x devices, and Bluetooth devices that broadcast my identity 
    (to a sufficiently savvy adversary) even more efficiently than an RFID 
    tag would... --Declan]
    -------- Original Message --------
    Subject: Re: [Politech] Computerworld falls for RFID "sniper rifle" hoax?
    Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 13:21:35 -0700
    From: John Gilmore <gnu@private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    CC: politech@private
    References: <408F2D74.8040301@private>
    Nice hoax.  But the opposite is more likely to come true.  Rather than
    shooting RFID chips into people, people with RFID chips already in or on
    them will be shot.  People with RFID chips in their clothing, books,
    bags, or bodies could be targeted by "smart projectiles" that will zero
    in on that particular Smart.
    Today's "smart bombs" already self-guide toward laser-identified or
    RF-identified or heat-identified targets.
    The technical challenges involved in guiding a missile toward an RFID
    chip would probably relate to the speed of the missile compared to the
    range at which the RFID chip can be made to respond and the agility
    with which the missile can change course.
    Such a missile could probably more easily be designed to *arm* or
    *trigger* its explosion when a particular RFID chip is in range.  That
    way, if fired at innocents, it would be a dud that would only cause
    minimal damage, but if fired at the right person, it would blow up.
    But we need not get so science-fiction about it.  Rather than bring
    the mountain to Mohammed, let's let Mohammed come to the mountain.
    Let's see what this technology would do for an everyday practice of
    today's freedom fighters who are defending their country by opposing
    one of the US Government's current wars of occupation.  In order to
    comply with government labeling mandates resulting from the huge
    Firestone tire recall, Michelin has announced that it plans to put
    RFID chips in every tire it sells to car makers (and eventually
    in every tire they sell).  Similar plans are afoot for many other
    automotive and personal products.
    Imagine being able to bury an explosive in a roadway -- that would
    only go off when a particular car drove over it.  You could bury these
    bombs months in advance, in any or every major or minor roadway.  You
    could change the targeting whenever you liked (e.g. via driving a
    radio-equipped car over it and transmitting new instructions to it).
    You could give it a whole list of cars that it would explode for, or a
    set of cars and dates.
    If you put such bombs throughout a metropolitan area, a car could
    drive through the area for months without triggering anything --
    taking evasive routes, etc.  But on the appointed day, each the bombs
    surrounding the area would know to go off when that same car passed.
    Without the responsible parties having to visit the sites later than
    days or weeks beforehand (making them hard to catch or deter).
    Such explosives would be detectable by their radio emissions -- RFID
    pings.  But in a world where RFID pings are being transmitted by
    everything around you, including every cellphone and doorframe and cash
    register and ATM machine and camera and car and computer and palmtop
    and parking meter and cop car ... you won't even notice.  Places with
    "congestion pricing" like central London, or any toll road anywhere, would
    even have plenty of active RFID readers buried in the roadway already.
    And I'm sure the cops anywhere would love to have them for tracking
    where everybody is driving -- individually.
    Welcome to automated personal death.  Courtesy of RFID and leading
    shortsighted global corporations, with government encouragement.
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