In the last 22 years, about 233 such abductions have occurred in the United States. About 4 million babies are born each year, which means that a baby has a 1-in-375,000 chance of being abducted. Compare this with the infant mortality rate in the U.S. -- one in 145 -- and it becomes clear where the real risks are.
And the 1-in-375,000 chance is not today's risk. Infant abduction rates have plummeted in recent years, mostly due to education programs at hospitals.
So why are hospitals bothering with RFID bracelets? I think they're primarily to reassure the mothers.
One thing about Schneier's attitude that bothers me, is that he's walking with a chip on his shoulder (RFID, perhaps a tatoo?). The cryptogram is a wonderful thing, and his insights are just about always fantastic, but now and then he steps over the line.
Over here, he seems to imply that because infant mortality is a higher risk, putting money into anything else is misdirected. Well, i disagreee with him on three counts.
1) There's no real reason why higher risk things should be attacked first. It may be nice to say that a greater number is saved, but they are not inclusive. That is, Group A may be bigger than Group B, but unless Group A includes Group B it is no more or less important.
If hospitals were spending money given as a general grant to help people, the group with a larger number would be appropriate because it affects a higher number of people who are paying for it (in taxes). But if the money comes from bills of consumers, there is no reason one group should be more important than another.
It's one of my problems with Spock.
2) Baby-theft is closer to being resolved than the infant mortality rate. With SIDS not being explained (yet) where would the money go anyway? Baby-theft is a clear problem with a somewhat clear solution, whereas infant mortaility, unfortunately, is not.
3) If you ask a mother if she'd rather have here child abducted or killed, she'd likely choose the former. However, the pain caused by a murder subsides and pretty much goes away with time. The pain of an abduction, however, never really goes away. (Have i mentioned that CPS organizations are usually evil?)
Infant mortality, for better or worse, is somewhat accepted. Sure we want to prevent it, but not as much as abduction. It's not just reassurance they're after, they also are addressing that which their clients want them too. I'm don't mean to say that this is correct, instead, i mean to say that his swipe is out-of-line.
That's that. The Crypto-Gram is a wonderful thing, i just wish it had a tad less attitude.