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California Blocks RFID Implants In Workers 422

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 —, 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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  • Why so specific? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:41PM (#20455739)
    How about some GENERAL legislation saying that companies cannot require ANYTHING (not just RFID chips) to be implanted in their employee's body's.
    Although not quite as knee jerk as some laws (like the various "Amber laws"), why oh why can't legislators for once think about & debate an idea for several weeks or months and get it right?
  • Re:Why so specific? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Torvaun ( 1040898 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:49PM (#20455843)
  • Just another step (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Metathias ( 995621 ) < minus threevowels> on Monday September 03, 2007 @04:58PM (#20455939)
    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.
  • Ultimate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:28PM (#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.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:38PM (#20456411) Homepage Journal
    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 boot you off the island and it certainly may control its breedings. It is only our comperitive wealth that allows us to ignore this, and, so, arguing absolutes about freedom in an ephemeral context will only doom us overall. At some point, we may need to legislate birth rates or even those who should be born, and organize humanity optimally for an even distribution of sexual activity.

  • by umbra_dweller ( 797279 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:59PM (#20456593)
    I think it is far more likely that such a program would be adopted voluntarily. For instance stores could offer incesntives to chipped customers - give them a 10% discount, or design special speedy checkout lanes. They wouldn't get all of their customers this way, but they could probably get most of them to participate. Perhaps retailers could get together and design some sort of 'consumer chip' that could identify with multiple 'rewards programs'. We love our freedom in the U.S., if we do get dragged into a fascist style society, it will be with the illusion of greater freedom. "If fascism ever comes to America, it will come wrapped in an American flag.- Huey Long"
  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:30PM (#20456875) Homepage Journal

    Ok, the alternative would actually be .. the company can't operate securely. Therefore, they will not be able to make as much money .. and be able to hire less workers.

    So then you are left in a jobless position ANYWAY -- PLUS the world is deprived of whatever service that company was offering ... then what happens to your kids then .. not only are you jobless but the economy in general & quality of life in general will be crappy for them.

    Actually, your analysis is idiotic - and wrong.

    An RFID chip can be removed and implanted in someone else - as already noted by others... or it's "code" can be duplicated to make it seem like one person is someone they are not (kinda like the car lock buttons and the numerous devices to copy the codes to steal cars). It can and will happen.

    There are other technologies that are even more secure... visually matching the employee to a picture in the database at the security station, fingerprints (more difficult to cut off someone's finger than to duplicate their RFID chip), retina scans, etc.

    Chances are, any of the technologies I listed are cheaper than RFID tagging someone sub-cutaneously... so why choose a more expensive, more likely to be rendered useless, more invasive method such as RFID tagging people?

    Just a thought...


  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeadChobi ( 740395 ) <> on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:22PM (#20457921)
    RFID tags were originally designed to assist in inventory tracking and management, so implanting employees is effectively treating them as inventory. Since they are alive, you are actually treating them as cattle. And any sane employee would look at the bills they have to pay every month and realise that they can't afford to quit their job, then go and get the implantation. It's not as easy a choice as most people think.

    In short, you're wrong.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @09:07PM (#20458259)

    Actually what happens is that the employer making unreasonable requests loses their best employees who simply go to a competitor, taking their knowledge, experience, contacts with them.
    It appears that you never studied the history of the late 19th century. Or, perhaps you are fine with supervisors "sampling" your wife and daughter? Hey, if you don't like it, you can go somewhere else, right? Except everyone is doing it and you can only be a factor worker, no matter how smart you are, just because you were born into a poor family. Also, the economy is bad, so you all need any job you can get. I guess your wife and daughter will be having to go down on and get knocked up by their employers while you all make starvation wages. As another poster in this thread mentioned, in a decent society an employer would not even have the option of treating their employees that way.

    Finally, read up on this [] and try to learn about some of the scummy things people like Carnegie did when they were running things. Also, one thing that still exists today in Pittsburgh, for example, is that everyone who owns a house is advised to buy mine subsidence insurance in case their house subsides due to all the old mine shafts that Carnegie was allowed to dig. Just an early instance of corporations fucking over entire communities and leaving them high and dry, while a few (or in this case, one) people get massively rich and impoverish everyone else.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ross.w ( 87751 ) <> on Monday September 03, 2007 @10:44PM (#20459057) Journal
    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?
  • Pros and Cons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by freezingweasel ( 1049610 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @11:22PM (#20459351)

    1. The same as the national ID, which it would quickly become.

    2. Locating someone lost. (Your kid in a mall, see what store they last walked into from the help desk)

    3. Convenience. Be scanned just from standing close enough to the counter.


    1. The same as the national ID, the more that works based on this ID, the more a thief can take from you after copying it

    2. Being located unwillingly. Divorcing a lost-their-mind abusive spouse who if they find you will likely kill you (if not seriously hurt you?) Better hope he doesn't have means to read the network, tracking what door in the city you last walked through. Chased by criminals? No chance of escaping them now if they have some sort of long range scanner that can track the position of your key, even if it can't completely read it) Criminals will see cops coming before the police can get anywhere near.

    3. Convenience (of criminals)

    If this can be easily read by stores, it can be easily read by criminals. Even if the criminal can't trigger your RFID to spit it's info, they just need to be nearby when it does. Being buried under the skin does NOT prevent the IMPORTANT part from being stolen, the ID the RFID spits out when asked to identify you. Your info will be duped without you knowing it. What's more, when your ID is stolen, you'll need more surgery to remove the tag, to replace it with another, that will be copied every bit as easily.

    4. Unreasonable search (and seizure, but seizure doesn't matter here)

    If this is made common enough, the government will require companies to share info. (Citizen 42 just passed the door 1 of McDonalds 43,543.) Just the idea of this should be horrifying enough, but the logical follow-up, the all-us-database-of-citizens-comings-and-goings will be populated with this info. This will be admitted as valid in any court case (but will, being fed from stores, NOT be reliable, allowing inside jobs by people with the power to tweak records to be easily blamed on customers).

    5. Unneeded surgery.

    Any unneeded surgery is a stupid idea. Possible infection, possible rejection reaction (or allergic). The surgery to remove a tag (when you swap jobs and the next employer wants ONLY their tag in you), when the company claims the tag is THEIRS and takes it out when you leave, suing you if you don't relenquish it willingly (through further unwanted surgery). Aren't doctors supposed to be forbidden from unneeded surgery? (Hippocratic Oath) You never know where something will go wrong. A friend lost his dog to an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. It's apparently rare, but happens. Who assumes liability? The company? The doc? The would-be employee?

    6. Further unfair bargaining power in the hands of the employer

    If the employer controls / owns the implant, can demand a recall at any time and is willing to use the threat of painful surgery to get their way with their employees, the employess may become far more pliable to mandatory unpaid overtime.

    7. What does this thing DO?

    If people learn to accept something that they're told just spits out a number for the company's scanner, accept it under their skin and don't ask questions, what's next? Listening / recording tags. Your every sound will be recorded to be used against you. They KNOW you're looking for another job... your disloyalty will be punished. Imagine when some nut orders the RFIDs with the "painful electric shock" add-on. Yes, this goes beyond what an RFID is, but once we're used to putting things into ourselves, we'll sign to have anything put in.

    What does this do better than a security guard?

    It's cheaper. It can't be bribed. (The security guard won't be as easily fooled as the RFID though.) If your company is considering this, consider the number of guards they currently have. That's an OK level of security, or they'ed have more. Consider the combined salaries of thouse guards. Let's say 30k and there's 3 of them. If your
  • by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @01:58AM (#20460581)
    I have to wonder, from a historical, perspective, how the hell the *Roman* senate did all this. Yes, many of the politicians of the time were rich and powerful (especially in the early, pre-empire Rome), but there were political offices where it was flat out *required* that you be a Plebian (commoner). As time progressed the upper classes steadily lost political power as well (keep in mind that poor people voted in Rome, and there were a *lot* of them.

    Indeed, the fall of Roman democracy is sometimes (usually by people arguing against government handouts) attributed to people electing incompetent senators who ran on welfare platforms.

    Which isn't to say that you don't have a point and all, but the Roman democratic period was pretty much the opposite of that progression, moving from very little power for the poor, towards a great deal of power.
  • Witness (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:19AM (#20460689)
    I got a job for an American company HQ in *European country X*. The company called me to tell me to come back to the country after the permit approval process had been completed. I get back, oh, the permit hasn't ACTUALLY come through yet. So I'm an illegal immigrant suddenly, that doesn't feel comfortable. So I go find a hotel to stay in, the company doesn't forward any funds, I'm operating on my meagre savings, and I'm working illegally. Pay day comes around, still no PHYSICAL permit, so the company tells me I can't be paid.

    I can't pay the hotel bill, so I tell my boss: You get HR to write me a CASH cheque, or I'm out of here today. Boss: I'll give you a personal loan. Me: You're not giving me shit, dude, you're getting off your arse and telling HR to do the right thing. I'm not going to be personally indebted to you because you AND the company fucked up royally. Boss gets HR to write the cheque(which is later deducted from my salary, although I'm still officially not working there), I go to the bank. Bank: You have no account here, we can not cash your cheque. Me: I want to open an account. Bank: You have no permit, and no residence, so piss off. (Note: I can't legally rent an apartment without a bank account or a permit). Back to the company. Me to HR: You get this fucking cheque cashed ASAP or I'm off to the federal police to denounce your illegal HR practices, cause I'm already an illegal alien and I have nothing left to lose. I finally get a few readies, and weeks later finally get my work permit (and a bank account with a supplementary letter from the company declaring me an employee), and months later finally get an apartment.

    I was lucky that the local Police state doesn't actually police white collar "criminal activity" like mine was, but I was royally screwed for some time.

    RFID implants ... with one of those, I'd have been picked up at the hotel, at the shops, on the train, fuck knows where else, arrested, processed, imprisoned, deported ... no thanks.

    RFID is a stealth measure to make us all obedient sheep - if you don't stop it DEAD in it's tracks NOW, it's too late to change tomorrow.

    And just like the current story about being arrested for not driving without a license, once it's on your "permanent record", you're fucked for life if you fuck with "the man".
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Raenex ( 947668 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2007 @02:30AM (#20460729)

    Did you know what situations any of them were in?
    I personally knew two who had plenty of savings and were highly skilled (no kids, either). They didn't like the idea of testing at all, but they valued their jobs more. Several people told me they respected me for what I was doing, but said they had kids to worry about. Well, I don't think kids would go starving (food stamps), and I really doubt all these people were living on the edge.

    Did potential employers hold your principles against you?
    Turns out I never had to find out. The policy was announced at a company meeting as something that was going to happen. I made it know that I'd resign when the policy went into place. The policy was never put into place, and the idea faded away... I was a respected employee there, and I'm pretty sure my stance caused them to rethink it.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay