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12/07/2003 Archived Entry: "Whitfield Diffie hacks an RFID badge"

NOW THIS, YOU GOTTA LOVE. Seems there's a new version of the old convention nametag. You know, the one that says, "Hello. My name is BLAH BLAH." The New Scientist reports that 500 technology consultants attending the Pop!Tech conference this fall were given "smart" badges containing RFID chips. The badges also contained profiles of each participant -- hobbies, professional interests, work history, etc. Badges communicated with each other via infrared beams and communicated with a central server via RFID.

When you'd get near somebody who shared your interests, the badge, called an nTag, would ... I dunno, it would bleep or bloop or maybe it would give a secret electronic handshake. For all I know, it would even say, "Hello. My name is BLAH BLAH." But anyhow, the idea was that the badges would "introduce" themselves to each other, thus saving the actual human beings all that awkward necessity of actually ... talking in order to meet each other. If your badge bleeped, you'd know the guy near you was someone you had something in common with.

Whitfield Diffie -- co-inventor of public key encryption -- was at the conference and was so annoyed by the damned intrusive things that he hacked into his to put it into sleep mode. AND he programmed it to put every other tag it encountered to sleep as well.

Mr. Diffie! Tell us your secrets. You're an inspiration to us all.

This item was tracked down by J.D. Abolins, who ain't so bad himself when it comes to electronic freedom.

Posted by Claire @ 07:21 PM CST

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