August 4, 2005 | By Derek Slater

Keep the Momentum Going - Tell Your Reps to Keep RFID Out of California IDs

We're close to victory in the battle to keep radio frequency identification (RFID) tags out of California IDs, but we need your help to go the rest of the way.

RFID tags broadcast your personal information indiscriminately to anyone with a compatible RFID reader, allowing you to "shed" data without your knowledge or consent. California bill SB 682 would prohibit RFIDs in ID cards you use every day -- including your driver's license and library card -- until there safeguards in place to protect your privacy. It would also require rigorous security precautions for putting RFIDs in most other state IDs. This sensible bill has already passed the California Senate, and, with your help, we can persuade the California Assembly and Governor Schwarzenegger to make this bill law.

RFID manufacturers have propagated the myth that the tags can't harm your privacy because they can only be scanned from a short distance. Not only is that insufficient to protect your privacy, it's not true. Readers may be pervasively installed in places you pass by in close proximity everyday, like parking meters or check-out counters. A stranger with a scanner in his pocket could easily walk through a crowd and gather information without anyone knowing it. What's more, RFIDs can in fact be scanned at long distances. At this year's Defcon, Los Angeles-based Flexilis set a new world record for distance-scanning, successfully reading an RFID tag from 69 feet away.

If passed, SB 682 could effectively counter the nationwide push for RFID use in situations that leave people vulnerable to privacy invasions, stalking, and much worse. As we've noted here before, the federal government has begun testing insecure RFID tags in passports. These passports could allow terrorists to covertly pick Americans out of a crowd.

If you live in California and care about privacy, tell your representatives today that you support SB 682 -- and please, pass the word along.

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