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Social Consequences and Effects of RFID Implants? 531

Posted by Cliff
from the chips-in-my-head dept.
kramdam asks: "Even with all the talk about privacy and security, there seems to be a growing community of people who are implanting themselves with RFID chips. Being a developer myself, I am intrigued about building applications and solutions that will open my doors, unlock my car, log me on to my computer and control home automation. I'm seriously considering jumping into this head first, being on the bleeding edge, and going with an implant. I have looked at resources like Mikey Sklar's site, and Amal Graafstra's site, since they are two pioneers on this subject. For research, I have started TaggedLife to document my own journey. I was wondering what the Slashdot community think about this. What do you think are the social, security, privacy, and health risks associated with this? What are the pluses? Would you do it?"
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Social Consequences and Effects of RFID Implants?

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  • WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robogun (466062) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:51PM (#15259770)
    How about skipping the implant and using the keys like normal human beings. Oh I get it, CNN doesn't interview normal human beings. No way I'm pulling the chip out of my BMW key and implanting it into my body because I want to get into my car 0.001 second faster. /no tattoos or piercings, either
  • by rebootconrad (836537) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:54PM (#15259787)
    What is the need to implant something like this? You would be equally well suited in all those tasks to carry an unmarked gray card in your wallet with an RFID chip in it. I suppose it just seems cool and bleeding edge to want to mutilate your body with one of these things...
  • by Super Dave Osbourne (688888) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:55PM (#15259789)
    I certainly won't even consider it. Nazi Germany comes to mind, marking folks for reasons of ID'ing them for whatever reason is not a good idea. SS is another thing that creeps me out, a system of identification, now illegally used all the time to limit people's freedoms. Business all the time limit doing business with someone if they don't provide a SS, yet that is illegal. When will it come down to the same with a RFID? I suspect sooner than later, especially if the government gets involved in the process, and it already has... FDA anyone?
  • Carry it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbbernar (41291) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:56PM (#15259798)
    You could just carry the tag. Or wear it. Would that be too hard?
  • pluses minuses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1@verizo[ ]et ['n.n' in gap]> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:00AM (#15259824) Homepage


    • Pluses
    * You're in a car accident or you collapse and you have to go to the hospital and they need a medical history.
    * You're child is lost and they need to find his address/phone number (this sounds incredibally pet like, I know. But the kid should be allowd to have it turned off/removed @ age 18 or younger if parents consent)

    • Minuses
    * Let's say someone finds a way to sniff the signal, and can open your car/house what have you
    * You want to take a job in the covert business..
    * Anyone can track you
    * If this takes off and business impliment it and you don't want to do it then you can't buy goods and what not. I personally would never do this. It's just wrong in sooo many ways, religiously and ethically.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:10AM (#15259871) Homepage Journal

    There are no real advantages to such a scheme and plenty of disadvantages. For example:

    • As soon as the technology improves, you have to get surgery to replace it with one that isn't spoofable.
    • There's the possibility of infection or other negative reaction to the device.
    • We have no idea what the long-term impact of these devices inside the human body could be.
    • And of course, there's the big one: instead of stealing someone's wallet to steal money from them, thieves will now start cutting off someone's hand---sort of a reverse medieval thing.

    Indeed, for me---and apologies in advance for my language---I believe the answer is not so much "no", but rather, "hell fucking no."

  • Breast implants (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:12AM (#15259890) Journal
    Remember how the early breast implants were all "bleeding edge" and awesome? Then we found out a few years later they may oh.. kill you? Same thing here I suspect. The people who decide to "be first" quite often find out 5-10 years later it harmed the body quite alot..

    Now maybe it's just me but we hear a lot of stories about cancer being connected to various signals from things like mobile phones or microwaves. The RFID technology is still rather young and we don't know if it will have any sort of effect like this on the human body. Now would you implant a cell phone in your face with the current warnings?

    You basicly sound either extremely lazy or just trying to be cool.. Neither of which is good for your health long term. Sit down and think about the next decade, consider what may or may not happen, how much it will cost and all these important things. Because once you've got it done it maybe too later to reverse it or any side effects you get.
  • The Beast (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:19AM (#15259921)
    And well you should fear the Beast ... because he is us.
  • Re:pluses minuses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:29AM (#15259963)
    But the kid should be allowd to have it turned off/removed @ age 18 or younger if parents consent)

    Once there is a generation or two that have grown up with them...they will see it as normal, and quite possibly won't want to have it turned off/taken out. And also...those 'kids' don't stay kids. They grow up to be politicians.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:34AM (#15259983)
    Nothing to hide? May we install cameras in your bedroom and bathroom?

    You did say nothing, right?

  • 1984 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrraven (129238) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:42AM (#15260023)
    I am however worried about ubiquitous tracking. How can that possible be good? Britain for example wants to track EVERY car on the roads and then store the data for 2 years.

    "Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

    Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years."

    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/transport/article 334686.ece [independent.co.uk]

    Don't they make the kiddes read 1984 anymore? How much more blatant do things have to get before there is some sort of real effective reaction?
    Oh I forgot it's for the children, and against the terrorists and pirates, nevermind.

    When I read stuff like this, off the grid survivalist/back to the land hippies don't sound tin foil hat crazy, they sound like smart forerunners of an underground resistance to tyranny.
  • by beoswulf (940729) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:45AM (#15260038)
    Tooth Phone was a hoax.
    http://www.wired.com/news/culture/1,70601-0.html [wired.com]

  • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:46AM (#15260039)
    ...solutions that will open my doors...
    You mean like to your home? How is this secure? I mean, truely, how? What your RFID only will respond to certain readers? Someone won't be able to have a portable reader connected to say a laptop that reads your RFID and uses that to program the correct response code to other readers?

    ...unlock my car...
    I take it you didn't read the LA Times lately. For reference, go read this article [latimes.com] and when you are done, do you REALLY think they won't be able to do something similar? In fact it will be even easier, they just watch a place that gets a lot of expensive cars, place a few RFID readers around, wait for you to leave and then walk up to your car and drive away. They wouldn't even need to spend several minutes "cracking" your car's code since they got it from you when you drove into the lot.

    ...log me on to my computer...
    Get a fingerprint reader, or a smart card reader. Heck Sun has an entire system based on this for years, it will even move your active session from computer to computer (i.e. the applications you have open and running, your connections to other computers, the mozilla window on slashdot, the code you have compiling, etc...)

    ...control home automation...
    Wow, you need to have a RFID "implanted" to do this? Why not a card or a chip, or widget that fits in your wallet? Why not that for ANY of the above? All you do with the implant is tag yourself for everyone else to see and track. A card/chip/widget can be easily changed. Same reason why you need to change passwords ever few weeks, it make it harder for someone to compromise and continue compromising your security.

  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by austad (22163) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:09AM (#15260129) Homepage
    Last I saw, you could get these the size of a grain of rice. Why not just pierce your ear and stick it in the hole, or superglue it to your fingernail (which you'd have to redo periodically)

    Here's a reason no one thought of for these... If there's any ferrous metal in the device, you cannot go into an MRI machine. Additionally, even though there may not be ferrous metal in it, the MRI can still cause inductive heating on the device which can burn you. This is fine, when you're coherent enough to tell the docs what you have. What happens if you are in a car accident or have a stroke, and they need to stick you in an MRI machine?
  • Obsolescence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecretAsianMan (45389) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:13AM (#15260142) Homepage

    Obviously, you have no sense of how quickly technology becomes obsolete.

    Otherwise, you wouldn't want to implant that technology into you.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:20AM (#15260169) Homepage Journal
    \i{We have no idea what the long-term impact of these devices inside the human body could be.}

    Actually, we kind of do. This technology has been used on animals for years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:23AM (#15260180)
    That MRI machine will rip that RFID tag right out of your body, just like any other metallic object.
  • Human Cattle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:30AM (#15260205)
    Sure, go ahead, treat yourself like a cheap pallet of goods at walmart, or like human cattle with an ear tag and a chip (mandatory by 2009, new law, all livestock get chipped).

    I personally think it is nuts, and so obviously a big brother wet dream model as to make it a "line never to be crossed" issue with me. You really can't see this, the implications? Just extrapolate a little, use your imagination, think of the "bad" that eventually will come of this. And it will, bet your salary on it.

      And voluntarily??? You actually find it difficult just to unlock the front door and get into your car that you need to do it with an implant? It's bad enough we have government jerks hinting at making this eventually manadatory, that they are seriously working on behavioral modifications to go along with implants (command and control in other words, eventual electronic slavery so you know and keep your place, epislon drone) but to help them along by "volunteering" and promoting the idea that it is "cool" is...well...

    Eventually we will be sorting this chip implant business out and it will not be pretty. I know I will be on the "pure human" side, the one not connected to the borg hive mind.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:31AM (#15260207) Journal
    I typically wear pants everywhere I go, and the places I don't wear pants, I don't think I need to be uniquely identified...or at least, I think I'm pretty well recognized just by my physiognomy, yuh?

    So, please, instead of putting the proprietary and easily-obsolesced technological bolus UNDER MY GOD-DAMNED SKIN can I, yuh, just stick it in my pocket?

    That'd be brilliant. Cheers.
  • by Lectrik (180902) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @01:34AM (#15260219)
    For this to work, unfortunately it would have to go inside.


    Good news, It's a suppository!

    You can't get an MRI once you've been tagged, so the nipple ring would be an improvement in the case you want a MRI for some critical thing instead of it having to be cut out of your arm.
  • RFID == SMTP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dr. Brad (19034) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:26AM (#15260367)
    Think about it this way:

    When email started, the challenge was just to make it work -- get the bits from one machine to another. Now the challenge is making it useful in a sea of spam.

    The same is true for what Sklar and Graafstra are experimenting with; they're just trying to make the technology work.

    There's a big difference between making a technology work and making a technology work usefully in a world of nasty, exploitive, corrupt people.

    Take care,
    brad
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feanturi (99866) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:40AM (#15260409)
    You *already* need to take yourself apart to foil biometric ID.

    Well the last time I had imprints/samples of any body-bits taken without my will or knowledge was, oh, never. Nobody hiding in an alley that I'm passing by is getting a good picture of my retina to forge. I don't believe any strangers I may have shook hands with were surreptitiously taking my fingerprints either. With an embedded RFID tag, you could be being positively identified at any time with a very minimal risk of the snooper being detected by you. With remote access, everything is right there for anyone with the right kind of snooping equipment. That's why they had to shield the covers of those RFID passports they came out with, so I guess one would have to put the thing in their wrist and then wear a shielded glove or wristband all the time to protect their privacy. Kind of defeats the purpose of the convenience, if one is at all privacy-minded.
  • Security? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kuukai (865890) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @02:45AM (#15260420) Journal
    Being a developer myself, I am intrigued about building applications and solutions that will open my doors, unlock my car, log me on to my computer and control home automation.

    I don't see how this offers any practical security benefits. Let's explore a possible holdup situation involving a standard punk and an "early adopter":
    Punk: Gimme your keys or I'll cut you!
    You: Sorry, no keys, I start my car with a microchip in my hand.
    Punk: What the hell? Don't fuck with me! Gimme your keys!
    You: I told you, I-... Urrghhrgh *Sounds of dying*

    Nope, doesn't look too promising. Nope, not too promising at all... But maybe if you're reeeallly lucky he'll know about RFID tags and just saw off your hand instead!
  • by x2A (858210) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:35AM (#15260507)
    Noo, there's plenty of ways you can charge it, such as magnetically, which is how middle ear implants are charged (if people had to cut inside their middle ear each time they wanted those charged, I doubt anyone would have 'em).

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MukiMuki (692124) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:40AM (#15260518)
    First off, they'd need to cut off an ARM; they're usually placed in your bicep.

    Finally, no one in their right minds would ever take this approach. It's just not efficient enough. Identity theft works best in VOLUME.

    So at that point, you need to start seeing things in a "scarier" light.

    Remember how in movies it only takes an expert thief bumpin into you at the shoulder to take your wallet? Now they can grab a whole lot more with a wireless scanner.

    RFID devices outright GIVE OUT their information. That's all they know how to do. There's no two-way communication. Their basic approach is to announce information given what little power they were provided with in the original radio signal.

    Just how hard would it be to scan and spoof RFID given the right equipment?
  • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KillerCow (213458) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @03:58AM (#15260563)
    \i{We have no idea what the long-term impact of these devices inside the human body could be.}

    Actually, we kind of do. This technology has been used on animals for years.


    Only on animals that have a typical lifespan of 10 years though.
  • by morie (227571) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @04:07AM (#15260586) Homepage
    Which I imagine to be _extremely_ painfull when torn from the nipple by a thief

    Then again, some people may get off on that.

    However, I'd stick with a watch/bracelet
  • Re:pluses minuses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morie (227571) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @04:12AM (#15260600) Homepage
    IMHO, being able to track your kid not only gives you a false sense of security (so you know where they are, now what?), it also does not allow them to grow up to be responsible adults by making their own decisions and mistakes without sombody following them every move.

    Therefore I move to transfer that point from (+) to (-)
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashdot.org (321932) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @04:39AM (#15260662) Homepage Journal
    There are no real advantages to such a scheme and plenty of disadvantages

    Exactly. For some reason most people here seem to forget the most important thing:

    RFID has nothing to do with encryption/security. It's a serial number. What fucking good is that going to do you? So your car will start when your serial number is near? It should be pretty clear that faking a serial number is trivial. With RFIDs you don't even need physical contact to achieve that.

    In other words:
    I am intrigued about building applications and solutions that will open my doors, unlock my car, log me on to my computer and control home automation

    will not be solved by RFID. I don't even understand where someone would get that idea. You'd be crazy to rely on that. If you think that doing security through positive identification of a certain physical human being present is a good idea (which is debatable to begin with), then you're probably better off doing fingerprint or iris-scanning.

    Now if RFID tags had RSA or something built in, it would be a different story. But they don't.

    Eh, this whole story makes no sense at all.
  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FOSSguy (971853) <fossguy.slashdot.052006@threefiddy.com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @04:52AM (#15260702)
    We have no idea what the long-term impact of these devices inside the human body could be.

    Actually, I suggest that we do. We've been putting them in domestic cats and dogs for well over ten years now. I think that the impact of placing a small glass capsule inside a body (well technically just under the skin, not inside) is well understood by now.

    I believe the answer is not so much "no", but rather, "hell fucking no."

    AMEN! I agree 100% there. Don't get me wrong on the first part - just 'cos they're not physically harmfull doesn't mean they're anything other than pure unmitigated evil

  • by spineboy (22918) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:32AM (#15261668) Journal
    I am a surgeon, so I do know what I'm talking about for the following concerns.
    Implanting a RFID is relatively easy - just a large sized needle to place it under the skin - and also fairly easy to take out that way too. The ones that have been used in pets without problems for YEARS! are covered with an inert plastic that also has been used for years in people, without allergic reactions. Yes I guess that if you did develop a large bruise,AND it became infected that the implant could get infected too, but you'd prolly' need medical attention anyway if you had an infected bruise.

    Alpha particles!? WTF? - these implants are passive - they need a radio beam to power them, so that they can broadcast back. They don't need a power supply If you did implant a computer that needed a power supply, like a pacemaker, , maybe you could charge it via induction. An Alpha Nuke source emitter would generally have it's alpha particles stopped by the inert casing. Alpha particles are generally stopped by a piece of paper.

    No, putting an implant deep into the abdominal cavity is a bad idea. Yes it would be more protected, but any surgery in the abdom cavity can cause adhesions, bowell obstruction, etc. There's a reason why all pacemaker batteries are placed under the skin by the chest/armpit - it's safe.

    Having said all that, I still think an implantable RFID is a stupid idea, and wouldn't get one, but for security reasons, not for health ones.

  • Real security (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adamdeprince (600460) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @10:36AM (#15262259)

    Some might argue that the security is greater because a theif can't remove it the implanted RFID. Violence and robbery go hand in hand, theives already stab and shoot on occation for the contents of your wallet. I recall reading an incident in my local paper years ago where a mugger used a steak knife to torture an ATM card pin number from a person. Already, theives have removed finger tips [bbc.co.uk] to obtain the goods they want.

    While such a device, barring electronic exploits, will increase the security of your possessions, they decrease your corporeal security. Robbery depends on personal intimidation, the victim is being offered a choice between the loss of a possession or the loss of their physical well being. An external device, be it a traditional metal key, an RFID wrist watch, sticker, nose ring or whatever leaves this choice intact ... you can surrender your RFID nose ring, and control of your possession or take your chances with offered violent confrontation

    An implantable device differs only in that it can't be readily removed. Totiltarian state slippery slope type arguements aside, when confronted with the choice "your money of your life" what are you going to say ... "nope, you can't have it, its buried in my forearm!" Somebody who wishes you enough malice to point a weapon at you and actively consider taking your life in exchange for your possession might not see this obsticle in the same light as you.

    Cutting out an implant, or amputating the attached limb might seem to be excessive escalation to you and I. A person who considers taking your life a realistic option might consider walking off with your forearm a more paletable alternative. Even if they just cut it out, do you really want the disfigurment, injury, the risk of catching whatever diseases the knifes last victim had, the pain?

    In short, the point of security isn't to be ultimately secure. I don't want my car to be 100% impossiable to drive away without my involvement, I only want it to be hard enough that it might not be worth the effort. The old fashioned metal key in my pocket is the ultimate security measure for me ... its possession secures my car when I'm away and its surrenderability secures my person when I'm near it.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Scroatzilla (672804) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @12:35PM (#15263334) Homepage Journal
    What is so difficult to manipulate in a home environment that you can't just do it manually? This is a ridiculous notion. Why not just store your "preferences" in your BRAIN?? This whole home automation notion seems like it's a product of burned-out techno-brainiacs who can only think of things in terms of "data." What about "reality"??

    >>Of course, you could ask what it would do when two people with conflicting preferences are in the same room, but that's just a software problem and is thus much easier to refine over time.

    Or, it could be a human interaction problem that could be solved by "comprimise." Sorry, implanting a chip into your body so that you can simply stop thinking and cease awareness of your environment and human interactions is really, really stupid.

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