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RFID: mark of the beast?

Picture of Turkish angora kittenMad sorties across the sitting room on legs spinning like Tom's chasing Jerry in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Constantly supervising his hosts while giving them lots of affection: a Turkish Angora kitten has arrived at home. The breeder had him RFID tagged, which will identify him and may renunite him with us if he gets lost. It also helps the vet to maintain her records.

The thought of humans tagged in this way fills us with horror. Some make dark references to the "mark of the beast" referred to in the Bible's book of Revelations. Some aren't concerned about eschatology and worry about the tags on the goods we buy on the high street: could they be used to track us or our credit card use? Or could criminals target homes by scanning trash looking for the tags on the packaging of expensive new appliances, like TVs or mediacentres?

In a previous post on RFID I refered to the ease with which encrypted data held on RFID tags on prototype passports had been accessed—so there is cause for concern. I recently chaired a seminar at Intellect, the UK IT industry's trade body. Delegates agreed that RFID tags should only store an ID number—which anyway is the original concept. Related patient-based data should be stored on more secure IT systems. This would give the concerned some comfort.

Mind you, some members of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona are happy to be tagged with a subcutaneous Verichip to give easy entry and so they don't need to carry cash or cards. Cool for cats maybe?


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