COMMUNICATIONS

RFID Tracking Chip In Your Drivers Licenses and Clothes?

rfid-tracking-chip-in-drivers-licenses
Image: michigan.gov

There is a billion dollar ‘RFID’ industry that probably has tracker ‘bugs’ all around you right now, and you may not even know it…

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): What is it? and Why should I care?


 
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves to identify objects or even people. Basically there are three parts of the system…

1. A wireless ‘tag’ (chip) (bug?) which is affixed to the item/thing/(or person?).

2. A device that reads the information contained within the wireless ‘tag’.

3. A database which contains the cross-referenced information that is related to the ‘tag’.

The RFID tag can be ‘read’ from a distance without making any physical contact or requiring a line of sight.

RFID technology has been commercially available in one form or another since the 1970s, but has advanced since then and is now part of our daily lives. It can be found in many areas including car keys, employee identification badges, clothing inventory and countless other retail items, medical history/billing, highway toll tags, security access cards, pet ID implants, passports, credit cards, and now even in some state license plates and drivers licenses!

There are two basic RFID technologies…

1. Vicinity RFID-enabled items can be accurately read by readers from up to 20 to 30 feet away (apparently some even up to 60 – 70 feet).

2. Proximity RFID-enabled items must be scanned in close proximity to a reader and can only be read from a few inches away.

 
By having an RFID chip in your highway toll tag, or your credit card, or your drivers license, or on your license plate, means that ‘they’ (whoever they are) can watch/track you if they want, whenever they want.

While most people may assume that ‘they’ are simply using this tracking information for your (and their) own convenience or benefit or security, the truth is that there are potentially nefarious uses of this data by the implementing entities themselves — or hackers — or even the government NSA or DHS.

The Department of Homeland Security is in favor of the RFID program and has been pushing for wider use of the technology, especially for new ‘enhanced’ drivers licenses which contains data and an individualized number that traces back to the federal government’s file containing all your ‘source documents’.

Enhanced Drivers Licenses: What Are They?

“State-issued enhanced drivers licenses (EDLs) provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship…include technology that makes travel easier…in addition to serving as a permit to drive.”

“Multiple cards can be read at a distance and simultaneously with vicinity RFID technology, allowing an entire car full of people to be processed at once.”

-DHS

There are apparently four states with RFID in their citizens’ drivers’ licenses, Vermont, New York, Michigan, and Washington state which link the RFID data to a national database being run by the Department of Homeland Security that includes the photos of each ID holder among other things…

New initiatives for RFID drivers’ licenses are popping up around the country, such as in Texas, where HB3199 directs Texas DPS to collect personal information and biometric data of Texans’ at the time of drivers license application, and to maintain this data in an electronic database. The bill also directs Texas DPS to embed an “integrated circuit chip” (RFID chip) in these individuals’ drivers licenses and/or personal identification cards. This RFID chip would be machine readable, allowing ‘authorities’ or a person with an RFID reader and decryption savviness to gain access to this information.

I believe that there are other state initiatives including in Florida and Missouri (perhaps others as well) while California recently rejected a bill which would have introduced RFID to drivers’ licenses.

Much of this is apparently (currently) optional with regards to an EDL, probably at least until there is wider acceptance (or ignorance).

Step 1. “The RFID chip is not part of the standard driver’s license or ID card. It is only in the enhanced license and ID, which are entirely optional. Customers are not required to purchase an enhanced license or ID if they prefer the standard version.” (Michigan)

Step 2. Mandatory.

 
This is apparently just the beginning of utilizing this technology for tracking you…

“There are two things you really don’t want to tag, clothing and identity documents, and ironically that’s where we are seeing adoption,” said Katherine Albrecht, founder of a group called ‘Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering’. “…there are a lot of corporate marketers who are interested in tracking people as they walk sales floors.”

Several retailers, including Walmart, J.C. Penney and Bloomingdale’s, have begun experimenting with smart ID tags on clothing.

Where will it all lead?

Why don’t you tell me…

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28 Comments

  1. While this is quite annoying (I for example cannot get passports without this anymore), there are quite some easy measures against it: For cards, passports etc. you want to have intact and working RFID-safe wallets exist. They are not very expensive and very effective, I had the chance to see a test demonstration of them. This avoids reading out the chips without you knowing (and your consent).
    Angainst smart IDs in clothes you can try to locate them and then severe the antenna from the chip. Or put the thing for 10 sec into the microwave if possible, this kills the chip.
    Regarding car tags: Its as easy to do mass scans of the licence plates, so there is no real way around this. We leave a pretty big data trail behind us, especially when using credit or debit cards.

  2. My work badge has an RFID that allows them to track which part of the building I was in, when and for how long. NASA is pretty anal about controlling traffic in and around the Space Center, and probably rightfully so. However the chip in my DL is a different story.

  3. I am wondering if a degausser will “pop” the RFID tag. We used degausser’s to wipe and destroy hard drives, magnetic tapes, etc. Basically a big electro-magnet that emits a really strong magnetic field.
    Anyone out there have any idea?

  4. I myself only carry one card in my wallet lined with foil in my front pocket and then only when I know ahead of time I will be using it. There are people that “scan” others all the time… just look it up. I keep an emergency card and $300 in HDB’s in my boot. If you stick these cards with rfid’s in a microwave for a few seconds, it will fry it’s circuits and they still work when swiped.

  5. Living near the Canadian border, I decided to get an enhanced Washington state drivers license, to go back and forth without carrying my passport. When I received the license it came in an envelope that is foil lined, presumably to block RFID readers. When I showed the license the last time I flew a commercial flight, passage thru security seemed a little quicker than usual. That is a purely subjective observation. I know that border crossing officials read the car plates and already have a good idea of who should be in the car as you pull up. For me the enhanced license was a choice. I don’t think I would like a chip under my skin like my cat has without my consent. (The cat didn’t have a say in the process.) Like someone said above, we already leave a pretty wide electronic footprint wherever we go.

  6. @RoosterVT: A Degausser will not destroy the RFID tag because its a small chip connected to an antenna. Inducing currents with strong fields does, as a microwave oven. Unfortunately you cannot put everything into a microwave.

  7. recently got a credit card replacement. it has the little “wave” symbol on it, which indicates it can just be waved over the store machine, to pay for purchase (no pin number etc required).. When I activated the card, was told, I was “now” given this feature.

    myself, I do not feel this is safe. I called the credit card company, and said I did not want this, take it off/issue another card without it.

    I was told, emphatically, that ALL credit cards now have this, and there was no way to avoid it.

    anyone know if this is true?
    – can I disable this feature somehow?

    thks

          1. Ken, yes, good advice, for sure. especially since getting the RFID c.c., have been making a serious effort to use cash. much better habit to be in, for many many reasons.

          2. Unfortunately, cash won’t be around much longer. They’re going to do away with it. At a point, every monetary transaction will be electronic.

    1. Yes, it can be disabled. Microwave it twice at 10 second intervals, let it cool each time.

    2. Our fabulous representatives (spear-headed by our beloved POTUS) have passed laws which state that if a credit card is NOT equipped with this the CC company is liable for any fraudulent purchases. If a retailer does not have the equipment to use the chip, THEY are on the hook. I believe this took effect last October, although I’m not sure.

      I have my CC wrapped in tin foil in my drawer and only take it out when I have a specific purchase to make that can only be done by CC. For example I carried it with me when I went on a trip recently, wrapped in foil, so that I could use it at hotels to register (since many will not allow registration without a cc on file).

  8. If I lost my drivers license and I have the chip can it be found or located… if so who do I contact….

  9. I would inform one wherein all this RFID tech will certainly lead? One won’t be able to buy or sell without this! Ones Government will order one to accomplish something or not and non compliance will definitely be ascertained with this chip! Albeit not to go out ones door and many other abstractions as this regulatory control ever grows tighter and tighter. Yes one will also certainly sacrifice their entire liberty for sure via giving this technology the seat! Pow there goes all ones privacy! Even now refrigerators will monitor what one eats and too distinguish whether one is eating to much or claim they ate garbage food and this was the cause hence. will affect their health care coverage via defining whether what one presently eats is worthy of covering them! Doctors files are linked to the government wherein they really shouldn’t ever be linked either as this also will be used against one upon one wise or another! Yes it’s certainly a foolish nation whose mesmerized by this technology so much they refuse to wake up until it’s to too late!

    1. It starts with being ‘convenient’ or for your ‘security’. Then it becomes requirement. Trickle down loss of freedom.

  10. This is some scary big brother stuff. My state is offering the new DL with the chip as the Feds are making it mandatory for certain access and travel. When you think of all the data that is compiled about us, food shopping habits, GPS on cars, phones, gun purchases, computer location, cookies, insurance info, and how much personal info has been hacked already, our days of true privacy have been over for quite some time. How about microchips for humans that are being pushed by some companies for employees? The chips are just another way to track us, and probably a way to control us as time goes by. I’m nor a conspiracy freak but this truely gives me bad vibes.

    1. To add to your comment, once they ban cash it will become complete control. No buying or selling without using their trackable digital currency. Cash is one of the last shreds of privacy we have left.

    2. Broadwing & Ken
      We had a neighbor who refused to have a drivers license, which we were unaware of until his passing when the sister was taking care of his estate.

      He said many times as the .gov required more information it was an invasion on his privacy. He had a sign created for the entrance of his property stating that it was unlawful for the .gov to enter upon his land. On said sign were the civil codes preventing their trespassing. Wish I had asked for that sign after he passed. Miss our coffee visits!

  11. I just renewed my license and no one at the dmv could tell me what “Enhanced” meant. So it’s basically like the syfy fantasies that said we’d all have computer chips implanted in out heads? The Michigan dmv totally doesn’t come out and tell you this, just a real vague explanation.

  12. I just received a replacement driver’s license, having recently lost my enhanced (!) Michigan license. This new license states: Card does not contain RFID Technology.

  13. I was just recently made aware that the state I live in is considering making this type of DL mandatory by October 2020. I was wondering if this could be a way of tracking our voting in Nov 2020 or used as a way of preventing people from voting by saying they don’t have proper ID if you don’t have an RIFD chipped license. I feel like I am either becoming more paranoid or things really are becoming very frightening

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