[LINK] Re: RFID Blocker from RSA: can it do a useful job? will it
just make RFID killer stations impossible?
oxsys at optusnet.com.au
Tue Apr 6 23:52:56 EST 2004
>[Sounds like a circumvention device to me (:-)} ]*
>"RSA's patent-pending Blocker Tag works by "shielding" chips within
>close proximity, but the blocker does not interfere with normal RFID.
>"Blockers can't be used to circumvent theft-control systems or to
>mount denial-of-service attacks," Kaliski says. "Instead, they work
>by creating a hostile environment for scanners that are not
>authorised to read information from legitimately purchased items."
This still cant work unless such a blocker chip is either carried on
the person or attached to every RFID tagged item! It also begs the
question as to what exactly authorises scanners to be able to read
the chips anyway...
So, if someone wants to scan all the clothes in a cloakroom, or -say-
a passport being physically checked, then such a blocker chip will
not have any effect
How many people will carry-or be able to carry- an rfid blocker chip
in a swimming pool etc? However it makes a (small) difference to the
association of person and tag-perhaps.. as it is clear that the
primary objective of dataveillance (to associate a person with a tag)
is left unchanged- the credit card transaction will still be linked
to the person at the place of purchase.. so any pickup of the rfid
when the item is not with the person subsequently (at the dry
cleaners?) will enable the trail to continue to be built up...
Id love to have someone explain to me how a blocker chip of this kind
could do a lot.. consumers need-badly- to be able to turn off rfid
chips permanently--- but this may now be another safeguard that will
be debarred one way or another to support the ICAO passport biometric
noncontact rfid embedded chips requirements being pushed through
without any serious consideration of the implications (yes, I did
secure all the ICAO materials on this area, and spent time with the
Passport Act "consultation" which was more a sales pitch than a
consultation, as we have become all too familiar with over recent
years in all too many areas). So I can see two new problems
1. if such a chip as RSA is building is in wide circulation it will
(as described) not be capable of doing anything very much to protect
people from dataveillance after all
2 there will be a move to 'protect' the rfid noncontact passports-
probably by making the use of a masking chip - or even if the rfid
chip is disabled permanently intentionally or unintentionally a major
offence (you know the terrorist thing). This would work so simply: if
a noncontact rfid check of a passport (which of course can be done
covertly and not just at the border check) comes up without a
response then the carrier gets flagged to a lane that assumes no rfid
style passport.. if the passport is later produced and is clealry a
biometric/rfid passport (as will be obvious as it is waved over the
reader) then the carrier gets flagged again and probably gets
subjected to acute attention.. certainly any rfid blocker chip would
quickly become forbidden in border crossing areas.. and this scenario
even makes rfid burn out facilities (a logical and sensible way of
dealing with leaving shops where RFID tagged goods are purchased (or
suspected to have ben purchased) by the consumer..if the latter is a
facility put in place by shopkeepers to enable public acceptance of
RFID int he supply chin (and it may well prove to be necessary) what
happens when an rfid biometric passport is being carried when any
such temporary or permanent off-switch facility was being used?
3. The Passport Act civil servants were resolutely against even
hearing any comments about the use and impacts of RFID biometric
passports OUTSIDE birder crossing points.. you can see why...
4. The biometric aspects of the new USA mandated passport system seem
to be less important (in some ways) than the uncontrolled tracking of
passport carriers in foreign countries OUTSIDE border crossing
points...ie anyone carrying a non-contact rfid chip equipped passport
will be in exactly the same position as someone who unknowingly has a
similar chip embedded in their precursor rfid equipped Gillette Mach
3 razor pack or Benetton sweater..
its getting increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that
privacy activists must develop a coherent and clear code of practice
for all these related outcomes: the RFID noncontact biometric
equipped passport is but a precursor to a national ID card with the
same alarming features.. and the debates on national ID cards, RFID
equipped driving licences and undisclosed noncontact active and
passive (usually passive due to cost) rfid equipped items in the
The interactions between the different approaches are already making
this a complex and difficult task.. and in an environment where
dataveillance is hoped to assist in anti terrorist actions it is
highly unlikely that any consumer protections from unexpected uses of
these aspects of rfid equipped items will be permitted by
governments, as the universal tracking of all the population is now
in sight.. and how convenient that would be administratively (think
centreLink think HIC think PBS.. etc)
This discussion was stimulated by the possibility of a blocking chip,
and how it might actually help: it is clear that it cannot do what
one might hope for, and than RFID-Killer stations are going to be
essential to maintain consumer confidence-- yet we now have (through
the biometric noncontact rfid passport) a powerful argument for
governments to debar even simple rfid killer stations at supermarket
checkouts ("they could be used to erase a passport chip....so they
must not be permitted")..
So is the RSA blocking chip likely to be of any real citizen value?
Will it simply make it harder to have an 'rfid cleaner station'
service? Assuming that the passive rfid chips can be' burned ou't and
not just temporarily switched off, as i think is the case...
Can anyone on the list comment on that specific point?
*As Roger hints, Im also not entirely certain if the DCMA (we have
"free trade" Howard style remember?) might not be usable to block
such a blocker in the first place..
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