[LINK] 1/4: [Politech] HHS announces program to implant RFID tags in homeless [priv]

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Apr 2 08:31:34 EST 2004

Note the date.  I've used this theme many times in presentations, but 
this presentation of the argument is much more nicely composed.

>Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 10:15:52 -0600
>From: Declan McCullagh <declan at well.com>
>To: politech at politechbot.com
>X-URL: http://www.mccullagh.org/
>Subject: [Politech] HHS announces program to implant RFID tags in 
>homeless [priv]
>[This is a joke... I hope! --Declan]
>From: DELETED at mail.house.gov>
>Subject: latest HHS outrage... please circulate widely! (REMOVEEMAIL)
>Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 09:26:25 -0500
>WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
>said Thursday that it was about to begin testing a new technology
>designed to help more closely monitor and assist the nation's homeless
>Under the pilot program, which grew out of a series of policy academies
>held in the last two years, homeless people in participating cities will
>be implanted with mandatory Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags
>that social workers and police can use track their movements.
>The RFID technology was developed by HHS' Health Resources and Services
>Administration (HRSA) in partnership with five states, including
>California and New York. "This is a rare opportunity to use advanced
>technology to meet society's dual objectives of better serving our
>homeless population while making our cities safer," HRSA Administrator
>Betty James Duke said.
>The miniscule RFID tags are no larger than a matchstick and will be
>implanted subdermally, meaning under the skin. ...

[My seminar line has always been that subcutaneous isn't good enough, 
because people will scratch them out, or get their mates to do so. 
Look for a place that people will be too squeamish to attack.  People 
usually suggest the male scrotum.  But I've always argued for the gum]

>... Data from RFID tracking
>stations mounted on telephone poles will be transmitted to police and
>social service workers, who will use custom Windows NT software to track
>movements of the homeless in real time.

I guess the utter non-credibility of relying on an MS OS to perform a 
real-time function was meant to give the more gullible readers the 
clue that the whole article was a sham.

>In what has become a chronic social problem, people living in shelters
>and on the streets do not seek adequate medical care and frequently
>contribute to the rising crime rate in major cities. Supporters of
>subdermal RFID tracking say the technology will discourage implanted
>homeless men and women from committing crimes, while making it easier
>for government workers to provide social services such as delivering
>food and medicine.

A lovely linkage of the initiative to an idea in good standing.  The 
middle-classes are thereby able to overcome their hesitancy, and 
embrace the proposal as being necessary to protect the nice folk.

>Duke called the RFID tagging pilot program "a high-tech,
>minimally-intrusive way for the government to lift our citizens away
>from the twin perils of poverty and crime." Participating cities include
>New York City, San Francisco, Washington, and Bethlehem, Penn.
>Participating states will receive grants of $14 million to $58 million
>from the federal Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness
>(PATH) program, which was created under the McKinney Act to fund support
>services for the homeless. A second phase of the project, scheduled to
>be completed in early 2005, will wirelessly transmit live information on
>the locations of homeless people to handheld computers running the
>Windows CE operating system.

It took me a while to get much out of that bit.  I guess it provides 
the link to the gaming and gambling markets:  sci-fi has played 
around with the idea of dungeons and dragons devotees getting to play 
with real people;  and there's bound to be money to be made by 
running boards on whether a particular hobo will move, stay put, 
drink or die.

>A spokesman for the National Coalition for the Homeless, which estimates
>that there are between 2.3 million and 3.5 million people experiencing
>homelessness nationwide, said the pilot program could be easily abused.
>"We have expressed our tentative support for the idea to HRSA, but only
>if it includes privacy safeguards," the spokesman said. "So far it's
>unclear whether those safeguards will actually be in place by roll-out."

That underlines very nicely what a vacuous notion 'privacy 
safeguards' is, when the privacy of your person has been 
fundamentally violated.

>Chris Hoofnagle, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information
>Center, said the mandatory RFID program would be vulnerable to a legal
>challenge. "It is a glaring violation of the Tenth Amendment, which says
>that powers not awarded to the government are reserved to the people,
>and homeless people have just as many Tenth Amendment rights as everyone
>else," said Hoofnagle, who is speaking about homeless privacy at this
>month's Computers Freedom and Privacy conference in Berkeley, Calif.

Yes, there actually is a Tenth Amendment, and it is about reserving of powers.

>While HRSA's program appears to be the first to forcibly implant humans
>with RFID tags, the technology is becoming more widely adopted as
>retailers use it to track goods. Wal-Mart Stores said last year that it
>will require its top 100 suppliers to place RFID tags on shipping crates
>and pallets by January 2005.

Now *there's* a good application for them!

>Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International
>Politech mailing list
>Archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
>Moderated by Declan McCullagh (http://www.mccullagh.org/)

Roger Clarke              http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                 Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au            http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program, University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Baker Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre, U.N.S.W
Visiting Fellow in Computer Science, Australian National University

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