Don't RFID me!

Privacy advocates are in a rage over recent legislation passed by the British government. Last week the U.K. Department for Transportation gave the "green-light" for RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, chipped license plates. The new license plates are capable of transmitting unique vehicle identification numbers and other data to readers more than 300 feet away. The new high-tech license plates serve as a means to counter the threat of terrorists using the roadways, and that it will scoop up insurance and registration scofflaws in the process.

Of course, the privacy advocates are much less enthused."It's too easy for (RFID license plates) to become a back-door surveillance tool," said Jim Harper, director of information studies at libertarian think tank the Cato Institute and a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.

Civil libertarians don't object to an RFID automatic toll-collection system that "anonymizes" vehicles in databases once a transaction is completed. But they doubt the government -- given its thirst for intelligence -- will use such privacy-protection measures. From a law-enforcement perspective, "there is no reason to have privacy for anything," said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

While the United States currently uses RFID chips on a small scale, you can be sure the progress shown by the U.K. will denote the U.S.' stance on the technology over the next few years.

News source: Wired News

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