Is RFID Technology A Security Risk?
Feb. 23 - KGO (KGO) -- All it takes is a second, and it's gone -- a modern day pick-pocket can snatch your credit card and other personal information without ever touching your wallet. The thieves need only a little know how, and about a hundred bucks. The technology we rely on everyday -- is being abused.
If you have a fast pass, you have RFID tracking you when driving through a toll plaza. Fair enough, you signed up for it. But did you know you are being tracked when you are simply driving down the highway? The signs that give traffic updates get their information by tracking fast passes, they know who you are, where you are driving, and how fast you are driving too.
Edward Albro, PC World Magazine: "There are some real privacy concerns about RFID chips -- as they are built into more of things we carry around with us, day in and day out."
Things like driver's licenses, and that concerns State Senator Joe Simitian.
State Senator Joe Simitian: "It is coming, and if we get to the point where we have 20 million plus driver's licenses out there with RFID, before we've protected our privacy, before we've made sure we know what we are doing -- we are going to be in a world of hurt."
That's because it won't just be government tracking us, it will be thieves stealing our information. All it takes is a computer, a reader that costs about a $100 dollars, copper wire and some off-the-shelf electronics.
The ACLU's Nicole Ozer shows us how easy it is to take another's information.
Nicole Ozer: "So what we have is Senator Simitian's entry ID document into the Senate and I have a reader, and it can read Sen. Simitians card. We can actually clone this card, with this little bit of copper wire, I can actually ask this wire to read the card."
The senator walks into the capitol using his card. Then I follow with the computer and copper wire, I check the door, it's locked -- then walk right in. And you don't have to have physical control of the RFID enabled card. Just walking around with our set up in a brief case Nicole could have stolen information from a group touring the state capitol.
We didn't do that, but we swiped the senator's RFID information while he was in line at the cafeteria.
State Senator Joe Simitian: "I think it is great technology -- I just want to make sure we use it well and wisely."
Last year the senator shepherded a bill through the legislature, that would limit government's use of RFID. The governor vetoed it and now the senator is back at it again.
State Senator Joe Simitian: "The fundamental question is whether or not the government should be able to force you to carry government identification that broadcasts your private information, without your knowledge or permission. I think most people consider that a bad idea."
The senator is not talking about restricting RFID in commercial uses, just government documents. For instance there would be privacy protections for driver's licenses, student id cards and the like.
The new U.S. passports are RFID enabled but have encryption and physical barriers to foil unauthorized readers.
- UK police arrest 3 more men in soldier's slaying
- PG&E disputes record fine for San Bruno blast
- Scouts honor veterans at annual Memorial Day event
- San Francisco man with brain injury missing
- Police position DUI checkpoints in unsuspecting areas
- Millions march against Monsanto in over 400 cities 58 min ago
- Limos without valid permits listed on airport website
- abcnews: How to stay safe at amusement parks
- roundup: Machete murder; PG&E fights fine
- weather: Bay Area weather forecast for Saturday
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed VideoMost Viewed Photos