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California Blocks RFID Implants In Workers 422

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-quite-cattle-yet dept.
InternetVoting writes "California has passed a bill banning companies from requiring employees to have RFID chips surgically implanted. Already one company has been licensed by the federal government, implanting more than 2000 people. At least one other company — CityWatcher.com, a Cincinnati video surveillance company — already required RFID implants in some employees. 'State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans. "RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," Simitian said. "But we shouldn't condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy.'"
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California Blocks RFID Implants In Workers

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  • Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by advocate_one (662832) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:35PM (#20455653)
    a state legislature that "gets" it...
    • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 (716938) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:41PM (#20455725)
      What is truely sad is that we live in an age of tyrany where such a thing is even concievable. Our masters trust us not...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Joebert (946227)
      Nobody is forcing people to work there, if the company wants to require employees be tagged with RFID there shouldn't be a problem with that because the potential employee has a choice.
      • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:17PM (#20456155)
        What if ALL of the companies in your field start requiring it?
        Where is your "choice" now?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ross.w (87751)
          Not only that, but what if you accept the tag from the company, and then they go broke.

          You find a job somewhere else, but they use a different type of tag, so you have to go do it all again?
      • by bicho (144895)
        It's the employee's body. His temple.
        Nobody should be able to say what to do with it or how to treat it as a job requirement.
        Besides, the employee also has a choice of quiting the job. What would they do about the surgery and the rfid then?
        • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ushering05401 (1086795) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:28PM (#20456283) Journal
          My question is who pays to have it removed? Say you switch jobs...

          Anyhow, if this tech ever becomes widespread I may turn to a life of crime. IT would just be too easy to tell if anyone were home or not. Just drive up and down the street with a van equipped w/a powerful rfid scanner and voila.

          Regards.
      • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by purpledinoz (573045) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:32PM (#20456341)
        Suppose you're raising two kids, and you need job stability. And your company says that you have to get an RFID chip implanted, or else you're fired. Do you leave your job with a chance that your kids might starve, since you can't get unemployment insurance because you left "voluntarily"? Or do you accept that you have to get tagged like an animal? Although, I can agree for some positions where security is of the utmost importance (perhaps if you have access to nuclear material or something), and the terms are agreed upon before hand...
        • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:40PM (#20456433)

          Although, I can agree for some positions where security is of the utmost importance (perhaps if you have access to nuclear material or something), and the terms are agreed upon before hand...

          If an RFID tag can be implanted surgically, it can also be removed and re-implanted into someone else. Consequently, it won't provide any extra security against anyone who is willing to steal nuclear materials for presumably nefarious purposes: they simply capture and kill an employee and take the tag from his cold, dead body.

          Sure, you could associate identifying information - fingerprints, faceprints, retina scan, whatever - with the tag, but you could just as easily associate it with normal passcard. No, the only "benefit" from the RFID is that it lets you more easily identify people in casual settings (streets and such). It isn't a security measure, but simply another step towards having everyone tracked 24/7, or in best possible case, just someone's private little power game.

        • Well, there's a little straw in there. Your kids are not going to starve, other forms of support are available. And, it could easily be argued that you are grandfathered in and their requirement would constitute violating their contract with you. State dependent.

          I just don't see these companies surviving this.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:29PM (#20456863) Journal
        The problem is, it doesn't work like that. If you give the rich and powerful enough unchecked power, freedom of choice is either (A) taken from you, because they make a deal, or (B) meaningless, as it went down a spiral where everyone does the same things.

        As an example of the former, you can see the last centuries of Rome and the introduction of serfdom. The rich clique that formed the senate:

        1. proclaimed themselves not subject to tax

        2. raised taxes on everyone else, especially the free peasants (land was the most common pension for soldiers and recruitment incentive, so they eventually had quite a few) to support the ever increasing costs of warfare and the luxury in Rome

        3. tried to fix prices _and_ devalue the coin, by law. There goes some of your freedom right there, as a free peasant or small landowner: they already tell you what your produce is worth, and it just became half of what you got for it last year.

        4. when people started moving away as a result, they just forbade everyone to move, effectively turning all free peasants into serfs of the empire. In one fell swoop.

        I'm sure those peasants still thought they have a choice before step 3. Unfortunately after step 4 it started going downhill fast, and eventually they were not only tied to the land and taxed, but had to work 3 days a week for the local noble too, and some 15 centuries later it had become 6 days a week and no land of their own at all. In some places (e.g., some Polish revolts were against that), serfs could not only be sold, but also rented by burghers, merchants, whatever. The long and painful slide from a free peasant class back to effective slavery, eh?

        As a _probable_ example of the latter, well, you can learn a lot about what problems a society had, by the laws they give. That Moses forbade working on Sabbath on penalty of _death_, should tell you that they probably had a _major_ problem there. It also gives you the idea that probably nothing else worked, choice be damned.

        At some point, even if you forbid by law to _require_ working on the Sabbath, people will just find weasel ways to require "volunteering" for it. (See the recent EA scandal.) So at some point your choice becomes picking one of X potential employers, all of which require it. You have a choice to take it or starve.

        The death penalty on workers on Sabbath is, if you think about it, the ultimate way to stop asking for it right in its tracks. There is no reward someone can promise you, in exchange for maybe getting stoned to death, and no threat they could use to make anyone accept that. Maybe religion could work to motivate someone to go to death, but here religion is what forbade that in the first place. Basically it attacked the supply side of labour, not the demand side.

        It makes me wonder how bad it had got, at the very least.

        At any rate, sometimes you have to restrict people's "choice" to accept being kicked in the head, because otherwise it can very soon degenerate into something where you have no choice to refuse it.

        Finally, don't get me wrong, I'm not against the rich or capitalism... as such. It's just that when one side has disproportionately more bargaining power and power to subvert the system, at some point you have to restrict what they can do with it. Otherwise, if left unchecked, they'll just figure out a way to turn everyone else into their serfs. See, the Romans again.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LilGuy (150110)
        That's akin to the online applications that require you to answer everything from your criminal history (with exceptions for some states) to your beliefs and attitudes. It used to be you just didn't apply with that company if you didn't want to go through all the BS, but now it's so widespread you can't get a job at your local grocer without it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tom (822)
        Welcome to the real world, things work a bit different here then wherever you come from.

        Employee "choice" is largely non-existent. The relation between employees and employers is not one between peers, so a level playing field only exists if the weaker side gets some protection.

        Finally, there are many good arguments to limit what can be done, irrespective of "choice".

  • Good for California!
    (One of the few times I might agree with the Cali govt.)
    • by creimer (824291)
      Now if California can pass a budget on time instead of six weeks late, that would be more amazing.
  • No Problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:37PM (#20455693)
    So long as they do not start flashing red.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      For those who missed it, this is a reference to "Logan's run" [wikipedia.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:41PM (#20455727)
    Because RFID would make that a lot easier.
  • Surgery (Score:5, Funny)

    by Treskin (555947) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:44PM (#20455791)
    The only job that should require surgery are managerial. How else are they going to get the stick up there?
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:44PM (#20455793) Homepage Journal
    if your employer just shoots you from a helicopter with a tranquilizer dart, and then staples the chip to your ear while you're still groggy?
  • by Demanche (587815) <chris.h@rediffmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @03:47PM (#20455827)
    What happens when you decide to leave a company, I guess they have to remove the implant?

    You work two jobs and you end up getting double implants? I wouldn't want this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by bcdm (1031268)
      I think there would be quite a few women who would be interested in working two jobs if one of the fringe benefits was two implants.

      Come to think of it, I know even more men who would want women to enter the workforce with two jobs...
  • As future generations find it to be a useful thing to do, the law will most certainly be declared obsolete and stricken as easily as it was passed.
    • by daeg (828071)
      The longer it is delayed the better. If future generations want to fuck it up, that is their prerogative.
    • Just another step (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Metathias (995621)
      Im a christian, And i should hope any other person who considers themselves a christian would see this stuff for what it really is. Just another step toward a mark of the beast system.

      Revelation 13:16-17 (King James Version)
        16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
        17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        Get a life - you said the same about barcodes... I bet there are a few that say the same about credit cards (which actually fit the profile far better than rfid chips).

        The problem with vague prophecy is, well, it's vague, and can be applied to just about any situation you want it to.
  • Don't be mislead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samjam (256347) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:01PM (#20455963) Homepage Journal
    "Invasion of privacy" is misleading.

    It's only about privacy in a euphemistic way, it's about sovereignty of ones body.

    If it is forbidden on "privacy" grounds, then the privacy grounds can be addressed, resolved, objection removed and then can become a requirement for work/access-to-services etc.

    It should be forbidden because the majority of the population said "No" without having to give a reason.

    Sam
    • I think one of the reasons we (and the courts) talk about bodily sovreignty in terms of privacy is because of Griswold v. Connecticut [wikipedia.org], the contraception ruling that preceeded Roe v. Wade. There it was asserted that there's a "right to privacy" sort of hidden in the other rights. Anyway, since that strain of the law has ended up influencing lots of "hands of my body" laws, not only Roe, the "right to privacy" gets trotted out quite a bit when something similar shows up. I agree that it's a euphemism and not
    • by NMerriam (15122)

      It's only about privacy in a euphemistic way, it's about sovereignty of ones body.


      Under our current legal definitions of the word privacy, it's not a euphemism -- freedom to control one's own body is considered a right of privacy. It's not some clever word just to "get around".
  • This one, I don't get - at all. I can conjure up no possible positive reason for the implanting of RFID tags in the human body. It is the ultimate intrusion, both figuratively and physically.

    Nine senators opposed the measure, including Bob Margett (R-Arcadia), who said it is premature to legislate technology that has not yet proved to be a problem.

    What a maroon. Why the hell is it a problem to preemptively act against activity that one doesn't like the look of? Have we got to the point that a technology has to become a *problem* before we can thoughtfully act to restrict or focus its use?

  • To ban FORCED implants on workers != ban on voluntary implants
  • I hope they work better than the RF tags at the library where I work. I saw one of those, applied inside the cover of a paperback that burned through the front and scorched several pages into it.
  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:15PM (#20456123) Homepage
    I find this trend somewhat short-sighted. RFID of course has many uses, but it is known to have several vulnerabilities when used for security purposes. I can imagine what some of them are, but I'm not a security researcher so I won't speculate. However, the reliance specifically on surgically embedded RFID chips may fall quite easily into the trap laid by "security by difficulty."

    Most of us agree that "security by obscurity" is a bad thing. Relying on closed code and hidden private keys (cough DRM cough) to ensure security just doesn't work well in the end. However, there is a tendency to have more faith in security which relies entirely on the difficulty of achieving some goal. In the case of mechanical locks, this is quite obvious and locks have been designed this way for centuries, the level of "difficulty" based on current technological knowledge and the known level of skill of lock pickers.

    In software, we see "difficulty" being important for public-key encryption, which is the corner stone of many cryptographic paradigms. The difficulty, in this case, is finding a pair of primes which can be multiplied to get the private key. However, in this case we can use mathematics to formally identify the time required, according to current technology, to perform this calculation. Thus, we can have some very good, provable assurance that a particular algorithm won't be broken by brute force methods. (Until the next technological breakthrough... quantum cryptography? But that, we are told, is assuredly still far in the future..)

    Now, here we have a tendency to embed an identification chip in a person, so that you can be sure that this person is who they say they are. After all, once a chip is embedded surgically, there's no way it can be wrong, right?

    Unfortunately this logic is way too dependent on the current idea that surgery is a difficult thing. Already there exist plastic surgeries that take less than a week to recover from. Even the procedure in question I'm sure is quite minor and takes no time at all. So how does embedding a chip in someone add to the sense of security? It's perfectly imaginable to me that in the near future there will be devices which can easily inject such chips into the skin or remove them without requiring a doctor present at all.

    So that is why I fail to understand this idea. Even after considering the man-in-the-middle attacks and several other ways to break RFID security, I cannot see that relying in surgical implantation will help much in terms of security. You may as well just get a magnetic card reader so that employees can use their ID cards to get in, and be done with it. Relying on surgery or even fingerprints/retina identification will only add to a false sense of security, as any of these can be fooled. And yes, someone eager enough to break into a high-tech workplace to steal data is going to be be smart enough to have thought of several ways to do it before breakfast.

    I'm afraid that when it comes to physical security, people are still better at doing it than machines, and I believe this will be the case for some time.
    • by perlchild (582235)
      I agree, I mean, once you agree on injecting rfid, to ascertain identity, how do you make sure someone even just carries only one?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:15PM (#20456131) Homepage Journal
    They would not support this kind of 'efficiency'. I'm afraid that in the world, the excuse of using technology because "it's just easier this way" has in fact lead to atrocities that will be remembered for a thousand years.

    It starts out as a labor issue and they tell you it's ok because you don't have to work there. Then they give them to all convicts. Then mental patients, then the ex-sex offenders, then bullshit pot bust people, then the DUIs, then the green card holders then it becomes an automatic step in the arrest process then your car insurance needs it then your health insurance then your bank and still they keep telling you that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. And if you don't want to use a bank no one is making you. Then everyone in the armed forces gets one then everyone on the public service payroll then all the welfare recipients, then all the school children, then everyone working for a company that has any government contract, then any passport holder. And whoever's left is corralled into special camps. Trust me, I've seen this before.
    • by ElephanTS (624421)
      Such a good point. The usage creeps - everything does. Why do people not see this?

      Seriously I would guess we are less than 10 years away from the full scenario you outline.

      In my country, the UK, you get DNA swabbed automatically on arrest. They've already got 10% the population now and then soon you'll need it for a passport. Before you know it we're in Gattica meets 1984 meets Brave New World and there will be no way around this except the collapse of the electrical grid. (And then things get really nasty)
  • Ultimate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:28PM (#20456279) Homepage
    ...we shouldn't condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy.

    Really? The wireless equivalent of a bar code is the ultimate invasion of privacy? Not, say, ECHELON, or warrantless phone tapping, or a city filled with cameras? It's an RFID chip? Interesting. And all this time I thought the ultimate invasion of privacy would look more like a helmet cam. Silly me.
  • Everyone is caught up in this notion of "your body is your temple", and that, you have an inviolate right to your body, and, I'd argue that you don't. There's nothing that you do with your body that is without social consequence, from the food you eat, water you drink, the air you breath, and the waste you make. Really, the whole "it's my body" argument that women have when defining abortion rights or even the notion of "reproductive rights" is utterly laughable. The tribe ultimately has every right to b
  • it's my body (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wikinerd (809585) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:19PM (#20456769) Journal
    Employees are not owned by their employers. If being employed means surrendering the sovereignty of your body to an employer by accepting an implant then this equates employees with cattle or sheep that are being tagged for identification before slaughter.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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