Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bugs in wheelie bins? What about the ones on supermarket food?

Recently, a number of bloggers have been commenting on a report in the Mail on Sunday about spy-bugs in wheelie bins. However these bugs in wheelie bins are rather large and cumbersome compared to the bugs that are on the many products we buy daily from the High Street. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, they're called RFID tags.

If you've not heard of RFID tags don't worry, I can pretty much guarantee you've seen one. They usally look something like the picture on the right. That one came off a tub of Philadelphia.

What are they? Think of something like Oyster cards for the Tube. They're radio frequency transponders that hold unique identifying data and they can be easily tracked. They can even be sewn into clothing these days. Technically they aid stores in stock management.

However, the real concern is that there is little to no regulation of RFID tags at all. What that means is that you could buy a pair of RFID shoes, with RFID tagged money (did I mention RFID tags can be embedded into cash too?), you leave the shop and get into your car which has tyres on it with RFID tags in them. We could become mini-homing beacons for all manner of tracking.

Of course, I'm not saying that it's happening - not unless you're a terrorist anyway - but as it stands, RFID tags make bugs in wheelie bins the least of our surveillance society worries.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anyone tags my wheelie bin and the tag gets wired to the mains or if i can find one an old camera flash, makes a great tazer.