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05/07/2003 Archived Entry: "RFID chips to contain a "kill" switch"

GOOD NEWS. SORT OF. An industry group involved in development of the radio-frequency ID tags (RFID) that are eventually to be placed in virtually every item we buy, has announced that a "kill" switch will be part of the design.

Unfortunately, this switch will require clerks to ask customers if they want the chips turned off. And it appears not every chip will have the "kill" function. Which means most of the chips will remain "on" for the entire life of that new shirt, bag of rice, firearm, or controversial book that you buy. While sidestepping the ghastly tracking abilities of these chips, the makers stress how "useful" they could be if not turned off:

For example, garments could tell a washer what settings it (sic) needs to be washed under, or foods could tell a microwave how long and at what temperature they need to be cooked.

Eeeeeeeew-yuck! Are we really so stupid that we need our food to tell us how to cook it? No, wait a minute, we're so stupid that our popcorn will talk to our microwave instead of us. We've reached a sorry pass if that's the sort of benefit they have to buffalo us with, these days.

(Thank you to C^2 for the heads up. P.S. A rocket scientist points out that a quick zap in the microwave should de-activate any RFID chip a manufacturer foists upon you. This will work great for anonymizing a tee-shirt or book. But don't try this with your new Ruger! Might also not be a good idea to microwave your credit card or a roll of film.)

Posted by Claire @ 02:24 PM CST

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