« February 2006 | Main | April 2006 »

March 30, 2006

The RF shielding shirt: An alternative to the tinfoil armband

rf-shielding-dress-shirt-med.jpg

Remember Sean Darks of CityWatcher, who had himself and his employees implanted with a VeriChip microchip device to access a "secure" data center? Remember how easy it is for hackers to skim the data from such chips and waltz right into the data center?

We joked that Mr. Darks and his employees -- along with the chipped nightclubbers in Spain -- might want to wear tinfoil armbands to keep their chips under wraps.

Well, it turns out someone went us one better. A company called The EMF Safety Superstore is selling an actual EMF shielding shirt complete with stainelss steel fibers woven right into the fabric. For just $89.95, Mr. Darks and his chipped pals can prevent unwanted access to their implants in comfortable, long-wearing style.

The EMF Safety Superstore also offers a variety of books, EMF detectors, RF shielding fabrics, and other products to help reduce unwanted EMF exposure.

[Note: This glossary of shielding terms may help non-engineers decipher the company's product descriptions.]

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 8:58 AM | Comments (1)

Scholarly articles on RFID security

gildas-avoine-logo.jpg
Gildas Avoine, an MIT post-doctoral research fellow specializing in RFID security and encryption, maintains a resource page with links to the latest scholarly articles on RFID security and privacy. You can even subscribe to email updates for an alert when new articles are added.

The following new articles in Avoine's latest email caught my eye. The full text of each is linked from his page.

Dang Nguyen Duc, Jaemin Park, Hyunrok Lee, and Kwangjo Kim.
Enhancing Security of EPCglobal Gen-2 RFID Tag against Traceability and Cloning

Ilan Kirschenbaum and Avishai Woo
How to Build a Low-Cost, Extended-Range RFID Skimmer

Melanie Rieback, Bruno Crispo, and Andrew Tanenbaum
Uniting Legislation with RFID Privacy-Enhancing Technoloy

-Katherine Albrecht

=====================================================
Dear all,

You receive this email because the website
http://lasecwww.epfl.ch/~gavoine/rfid/ has been updated.

The website has not been updated for a few weeks and so there are a lot
of new papers to read... The reason is that I moved from EPFL to MIT
very recently: You will notice that my email address on the website has
changed, although the Website URL remains unchanged. By the way, I am
looking for a sponsor to support my travel expenditures during 2006 (to
attend conferences). So, if you are a potential sponsor, let me know...


- NEW PAPERS:

[01] Christy Chatmon and Tri van Le, and Mike Burmester
Secure Anonymous RFID Authentication Protocols

[02] Julien Bringer, Hervé Chabanne, and Emmanuelle Dottax
HB++: a Lightweight Authentication Protocol Secure against Some
Attacks

[03] Jonathan Katz and Ji Sun Shin
Parallel and Concurrent Security of the HB and HB+ Protocols

[04] Melanie Rieback, Bruno Crispo, and Andrew Tanenbaum
The Evolution of RFID Security

[05] Melanie Rieback, Bruno Crispo, and Andrew Tanenbaum
Is Your Cat Infected with a Computer Virus?

[06] Ilan Kirschenbaum and Avishai Woo
How to Build a Low-Cost, Extended-Range RFID Skimmer

[07] Sangshin Lee, Tomoyuki Asano, and Kwangjo Kim
RFID Mutual Authentication Scheme based on Synchronized Secret
Information

[08] Dang Nguyen Duc, Jaemin Park, Hyunrok Lee, and Kwangjo Kim
Enhancing Security of EPCglobal Gen-2 RFID Tag against
Traceability and Cloning

[09] Yasunobu Nohara, Sozo Inoue, Kensuke Baba, Hiroto Yasuura
Quantitative Evaluation of Unlinkable ID Matching Schemes

[10] Andrea Soppera and Trevor Burbridge
Wireless identification - privacy and security

[11] Melanie Rieback, Bruno Crispo, and Andrew Tanenbaum
Uniting Legislation with RFID Privacy-Enhancing Technologies


Best regards,

Gildas Avoine
MIT, USA

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2006

Be careful what you wish on your enemies

bonfire-wikipedia.jpg

Think pedophiles and/or illegal aliens should be tagged with RFID?
I'd say that's a very bad idea.

Living in this surveillance and power-mad century, there's a wise Chinese proverb we should all keep in mind:

"The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns you more than it burns him."

While some people may, at first glance, think it's a good idea to tag the more dangerous and unsavory elements of society with a computer chip, it's actually a very bad idea in the long run. An industry that's built around tagging human beings against their will, whether they're illegal immigrants, criminals, or even mass murderers, will grow fat and powerful and bureaucratic from feeding at the trough of our tax dollars. An infrastructure of human tagging will take root, then, like all industries, it will want to see its market expand. (Think of the prison-industrial complex today -- or any powerful lobby.)

The human-implant-prison-industrial-complex will shmooze at political fundraisers and send lobbyists to urge politicians to expand the mandatory chipping program to other "markets." They'll urge the tagging of parolees and ex-felons. In fact, they'll say, society would be safer if all criminals -- rapists, drug dealers, prostitutes, thieves, and domestic abusers -- had a chip implant, along with gun law violators, marijuana smokers, drunk drivers, custody violators, tax cheats, habitual traffic violators, shoplifters, protesters who won't stay in their designated First Amendment zones, rowdy college revelers, and eventually the guy who didn't fill out the right paperwork to add a deck onto the back of his house.

Once the mandatory chipping lobby really gets going, they won't stop at criminals. For our own safety, they'll get the lawmakers to agree that we ought to chip nuclear plant workers, anyone handling biological or chemical agents, drivers transporting hazardous materials, anyone owning a gun, anyone working with children, anyone preparing food for public consumption, anyone...

Get the picture yet?

No matter who you are and how saintly a life you lead, I can almost promise you that if we light this fire to burn the pedophiles, somewhere down the road it will burn us and our children, too.

Big Brother has surrounded us with dried kindling and he's hankering for a match. Don't hand it to him.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 5:41 AM | Comments (13)

March 28, 2006

If you tag the police, they'll want to tag you

smartshield.jpg

Some police departments have begun testing spychipped police badges. Here's how Inforrmation Week describes it:

South Carolina Highway Patrol, Brookline Massachusetts Police Department, and Louisiana State Capitol Police are testing SmartShield, said John Domurad, director of research and development at Blackinton. Furthest along on deployment, the South Carolina Highway Patrol began September testing badges in the field. The agency deployed the software earlier this year. Next, deploying Datastrip Inc.'s DSVII-SC readers running Windows CE.Net in the field, Domurad said.

The DSVII-SC reader can communicate over wireless LAN or cellular networks, has biometric capabilities, and reads PDF bar codes, magnetic strips and RFID chips. It also can retrieve data from on-board memory or an external database via wireless 802.11 or Bluetooth technology, said Stuart Tucker, customer and sales support manager at Datastrip.

Blackinton's application uses 125 kilohertz or a 13.56 megahertz RFID chip. Each encoded with an identification number and law enforcement agency number specific to the division and embedded into the badge made from ferrous metals. "The chip is embedded into the badge, not attached," Domurad said. "The chip becomes inoperable if someone tries to remove."

Read more on Blackinton's website, Information Week, or RFID Journal.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 11:15 PM | Comments (5)

Amusement park or testing ground for a total surveillance state?

alton-towers.jpg


This just in from RFID Update:

Computing reports that the Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire, England, will roll out a new service for guests that incorporates RFID with souvenir DVDs. Guests wear RFID bracelets during their day, while cameras located at strategic points throughout the park snap pictures of them. The pictures are identified by the RFID information such that when guests leave the park at the end of the day, a DVD with up to thirty minutes of personalized and stock photos is available for sale. The system will go into production next spring, according to the article. (For another RFID wristband tourism application, see Friday's article RFID Goes to the Poconos.)

Source: http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/news/2152579/alton-towers-visitors-set-rfid

According to the article, Andy Davies, commercial services director at Alton Towers, believes visitors will not be overly concerned about the invasion of privacy implications of wearing the bracelets.

"We will not force the bracelets onto people and the cameras will be unobtrusive, so they will not feel like they are being watched," he said.

But of course they are being watched. Closely.
And photographed.
That's the "beauty" of RFID's power -- if you're one of the watchers.
You can identify and track people everywhere they go, closely monitoring and photographing their every move -- secretly, silently, and invislbly.

Will you be stupid enough to wear one of these wristbands? Or to have an equivalent RFID device embedded in your shirt, shoes or driver's license? They could be there already for all we know.

The industry's sure working hard to keep us from finding out.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 10:38 PM | Comments (1)

March 27, 2006

How to kill the spychips in your credit card

Has your bank issued you a new "contactless" or "smart" credit card or ATM card? Then you might be uncomfortable knowing that anyone with the right reader device could silently and invisibly read your account number - and potentially even charge something to it - right through your wallet, purse, or backpack.

What's a privacy-loving anti-RFID consumer to do? You can either refuse to use the card and demand one without an RFID tag in it (which is what I would do), or you can knock it silly with a hammer.

Ball-peen_hammer_from-wikipedia.JPG
Ball peen hammer, as seen on Wikipedia.

If you choose the hammer option, here's an email I received with a link describing how it's done:


"I posted instructions on my website on how to disable the new PayPass chips that one of our regional banks started putting in their ATM cards. The information would probably apply to others as well."

http://wvp.diablops.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=1

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 12:55 PM | Comments (9)

March 24, 2006

Random News Snippets - Part II

More from the many open windows on my desktop.

-Katherine Albrecht

Decent overview on RFID and risks from ITWorld Canada
"Many technology cheerleaders are naïve and short-sighted about the way technology is, can or will be used," says Philippa Lawson, executive director at the Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). "People have not thought through the societal implications of RFID. Is this the direction we want to be heading, giving the capability to third parties to engage in ubiquitous and surreptitious surveillance?"

Wal-Mart bank draws more congressional fire
"...due to Wal-Mart's scope and international dealings, financial problems within the company might damage the bank and disrupt the U.S. payments system....Other opposition has focused on the historic separation of banking and commerce in the United States. Some say Wal-Mart could drive community banks out of business."
I've been saying for some time now that Wal-Mart's size and retail dominance means it will someday be able to call the shots on our payment options. This threat that should be taken seriously whether or not Wal-Mart's banking bid succeeds.

First MIT looks at tagging living things, now it looks at tagging everything else
"Unit level tagging is becoming increasing important in many applications today. Last month, we heard about tagging living things. A lot of emphasis was on unit level tagging. At this session, we’ll continue the focus on unit level tagging but with a twist --
"embedded" RFID tagging!! " (<-- Note those crazy exclamation points!)


More on robotic fish -- the 2004 version
The entry below contains a link to robotic fish that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, were it not for their coloration. Here are photos of their mechanical innards and the first attempts to get them to "swim." (These things make my skin crawl.)

Visa offers "mini" spychipped payment card (Requires subscription)
Convenient! Contactless! Keychain ready! Creepy as hell!
"Visa USA has launched a new Visa Contactless Mini Card - a small form-factor contactless payment card (about half the size of a traditional payment card), which can be attached to a key ring.... Like many customer loyalty cards that have used the format successfully, the idea is to add a little convenience for the consumer by removing the need to delve into wallets and purses at the point of sale. Visa worked with its card technology partners to reduce the size of the antenna needed, and the miniature contactless solution can also now be embedded in other form factors, such as 3D key fobs, mobile phones and other handheld devices."

Police call on citizens to watch spy cams
"Soon-to-be-chosen residents [of East Orange, NJ] will get access to a a Web site that provides panoramic views of their block, allows them to type in general complaints, pinpoint a problem location, immediately send that information to police headquarters, and simultaneously activate hidden police surveillance cameras..." This is particularly creepy to me, since I've had a screenplay based on this in mind for several years now. I hope the "real life" version doesn't go the way the film version does.

RFID: Invading Women's Underwear?
One of our favorite foils, Bert Moore of AIM Global, revisits the industry's underwear tagging conundrum in this brief overview commentary.

Idahoans grow concerned over NAIS animal tagging plans
"The enormity of tagging and electronically tracking every animal in the United States hit home to livestock owner and 4-H Club leader Maria Brown recently when her Cassia County extension office informed her that 4-H steers in the county would be required to have radio frequency identification/electronic identification (RFID/EID) tags this year.
Another surprise, she said, was when the extension office asked if she had registered her "premises" (farm,ranch,acreage) with the state."

Agriculture Secretary Johanns says all systems go for animal tagging

This man is living in a dream world if he thinks people are quietly accepting NAIS. According to the article “People have generally accepted animal ID who are in the industry and want us to move forward,” said Secretary Johanns in audio from the Thursday news conference provided by the USDA. Huh? Which USA is Johanns living in?

British growing grumpy about National ID plans (Hooray!)
"The insidious erosion of our civil liberties will accelerate dramatically if the government wins the battle over identity cards...You may have noticed the vaguely menacing tone of recent government advertising campaigns. Here is a current example: 'If you know a business that isn't registered for tax, call the Revenue or HM Customs - no names needed.' Another says: 'Technology has made it easier to identify benefit cheats.' Whether the campaign is about rape, TV licences or filling in your tax form, there is always a we-know-where-you-live edge to the message, a sense that this government is dividing the nation into suspects and informers."

Media Cover-up: Leading Journalists Expose Major Cover-ups in Media
Having seen this process first hand, I was fascinated by these journalists' reports on how the news they were working on was suppressed, censored, and deep-sixed.

Tech policy commentator grows scared of retail surveillance tech
John R. Levine writes: "Last week I had lunch with an old friend who designs and sells video chips. He told me about an RFP they got from a large retailer. (He didn't say which one.) They want to install a grid of little cameras on the ceiling of their stores that can track people as they walk around the store, starting from when they walk in the door until they leave. The grid would be self-organizing, adjacent cameras talking to each other and handing off trackees to each other...."

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 1:26 PM | Comments (1)

Random News Snippets

There are currently 35 web browser windows open on my desktop. Each is a fascinating story, worth of a blog entry in its own right. But since I need to close these windows and I turn in a revised dissertation draft due tomorrow, I'll just post the highlights.

-Katherine Albrecht

Wanted - Australian spies who love to shop
The Aussies have taken a page straight from Paco Underhill's horrid CRM marketing spybook.

CANBERRA: Australia's top intelligence agency is promoting the chance to go shopping during work as one of the benefits of working as a spy, using case studies from real agents to try to attract new recruits.
"I'm like any girl in her 20s, I just can't talk about what I do," Alison says in an advertisement.
"Sometimes, when I'm out following a target who's gone shopping, I get to go shopping too. Or sometimes, as I'm passing through an area following a target, I might see something in a shop that I like and think to myself, hmmm. . . I'll have to go back there."


More detail on the Australia Spies story

"Alison", a recent recruit to ASIO, says she once worked as a private investigator, keeping tabs on cheating partners and their lovers, but wanted more out of her career.
"I love the way the job is unpredictable," she says.
"It's almost like I get to live another person's life every day.
"Sometimes when I'm out following a target who's gone shopping, I get to go shopping too."

Robotic Fish - Fake fish look just like the real thing
These fish are startlingly realistic. They are equipped with cameras, of course.
I'm someone who actually takes the second commandment ("Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth..." ) rather seriously. If humanity followed this simple rule, there would be no hybrid human-mice or other monstrous creations. When you saw a fish or a bug you'd know that it was fashioned by God, not a defense laboratory. (Plus you'd be sure it wasn't equipped with a remote control camera and a microphone.)

Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas
"IMAGINE getting inside the mind of a shark: swimming silently through the ocean...We may soon be able to do just that via electrical probes in the shark's brain. Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark's brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling....By remotely guiding the sharks' movements, they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies [of course], perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted."


Remote-controllable human implant

"Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has come up with a way to remotely control implanted components from outside the body...Livermore's device consists of an implant attached to a silicone tube a few millimetres long. The tube has with gold particles on its tip and a current is passed wirelessly through these to create a patterned magnetic field, which can then be used to manoeuvre the implant remotely.The implants could be injected near the target site and moved around the patient's head using an external electromagnet...."

NJ Police Chief takes a chip implant
Chief of Police Jack Schmidig of Bergen County, NJ, a member of the police force for over 30 years, received a VeriChip as part of Applied Digital Solution's strategy of enlisting key regional leaders to accelerate adoption of its implantable product.

Man's entire apartment wrapped in aluminum foil
A practical joke where a man's entire home was encased in aluminum foil - right down to the quarters in his change jar. (The photos in the gallery are jaw dropping.)

New Zealand Government to give all kids an ID number
Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said "I am interested in ensuring that ...our monitoring of young people is as coordinated as possible."

Japanese government plans to sprinkle RFID tags over disaster areas
The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications ntends to sprinkle disaster areas with RFID-tagged sensors that will form a mesh network to detect heat and vibration.

Food Technology Run Amok
"I'll bet most people have never taken a moment to consider that the current state of our physical health is likely due to eating food that is no longer compatible with our physical bodies...."

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

South Africa Talks "Spychips"

702 radio S. Africa.jpg

I was thrilled to speak with Kate Turkington last night on Johannesburg's number 1 news and information station, Talk Radio 702. Ms. Turkington is one of South Africa's best-known travellers and travel writers. Her weekly Sunday night 3-hour live Radio702/Cape Talk talkshow, Believe It Or Not, is the longest-running radio talkshow in South Africa.

Some of her past guests include: the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Goldie Hawn, Dr. Andrew Weil, Gordon Smith (The Psychic Barber), Stephen Jay Gould, Professor Phillip Tobias, Desmond Morris, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Desmond Tutu, cabinet ministers, leading religious figures, Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations With God), Ela Gandhi (Daughter of Mahatma Gandhi) Nadine Gordimer, Arthur Blessitt (The Man Who Carried The Cross Around The World In Every Nation), Psychic and Prophet Aaron C. Donahue, leading literary figures such as John Sandford, Graham Hancock, Bruce Feiler and other authors too numerous to mention.

On the Sunday evening show, she interviewed me (Liz McIntyre) about the book Spychips, as well as Dr. Steven Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and author David Plotz of The Genius Factory.

Thanks to everyone who is helping us spread the word about the serious privacy and civil liberties implications of RFID around the world!

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

RFID Chipped chompers

tooth.jpg

Chipped chompers could take a bite out of privacy if Belgian scientists convince the public to open wide and say "ahhhh" to spychips. Dr. Patrick Thevissen and his team from the Catholic University of Leuven think embedded RFID tags in teeth would be an ideal way to uniquely identify people, according to an article in The Register today. After all, they note, teeth are the most enduring of human remains, and certain RFID tags can withstand temperature changes in excess of 800 degreees Farenheit.

The university's interest in identifying humans with RFID should come as no surprise. Members and associated members of one of the university's consortiums, Leuven Security Excellence Consortium, include Philips, HP, Sun Microsystems, and IBM, among others.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 9:20 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

Tennessee members: Help stop animal chipping!

tn-stateflag.jpg
Way to go, Tennessee rebels! If you are lucky enough to be in Tennessee, please call and write your state lawmakers and ask them to support this bill to prevent TN from participating in a system to require all farm animals to be chipped, numbered, and monitored:

SENATE BILL 3258, By Burchett // HOUSE BILL 3297, By Niceley

"Section 44-7-501. At no time shall department of agriculture funds or any other state funds be appropriated to effectuate the implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)."


Who is my (TN) state senator?

Who is my (TN) state representative?

See extended entry below for the full text of this bill. (It's easy to read and very informative.)

-Katherine Albrecht

HB3297
01403447
-1-
Filed for intro on 02/22/2006

SENATE BILL 3258
By Burchett

HOUSE BILL 3297
By Niceley

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 44, Chapter 7, relative to animal identification.

WHEREAS, by January 2008 the final rule requiring premises registration and animal identification as defined under National Animal Identification System (NAIS) program standards will become effective; and

WHEREAS, the NAIS target date for the required reporting of defined animal movements, and for making the entire NAIS program mandatory is January, 2009; and

WHEREAS, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the goal of the NAIS program is to register every farm animal (including non-food animals such as horses) in a centralized government database; and

WHEREAS, NAIS will require micro-chipping of each animal at the expense of the owner, and a premises identification for every farm, which will be linked to a satellite photo and Global Positioning System record; and

WHEREAS, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), composed primarily of large corporate producers and the makers and producers of animal identification equipment, lobbied the USDA to create the NAIS to supposedly protect U.S. citizens and their animals from disease; and

WHEREAS, in April 2002 a task force composed of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and over 30 livestock organizations played a central role in creating the animal identification system, while small-scale farmers involved in animal husbandry and animal hobbyists were not represented; and

WHEREAS, once the NAIS becomes law, farmers will be forced to pay fees to register their farms and their animals; and

WHEREAS, farmers will also be forced to report the birth, death, loss of identification device, sale, and/or movement of any animal in their possession to the National Animal Records Repository within a short time of each occurrence; and

WHEREAS, this provision also requires farmers to report to the National Animal Records Repository when an animal they own attends a livestock show, participates in a trail ride, is transported to another farm for stud service, or takes part in a community parade; and

WHEREAS, the NAIS requirements have already proven to be unduly burdensome on the farmers of this state, and will become even more problematic for our farmers upon the final implantation of the system; now, therefore

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 44, Chapter 7, is amended by adding the following as a new, appropriately designated part:

Section 44-7-501. At no time shall department of agriculture funds or any other state funds be appropriated to effectuate the implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 11:27 PM | Comments (1)

Time to buy a flyswatter

The Pentagon wants to insert RF equipment into insects at the larval stage, so they'll pupate into hard-shelled surveillance drones, maneuverable by remote control.

insect.jpg

"Darpa seeks innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects, during their early stages of metamorphoses," its advertisement says.

Embedding the control equipment deep in their bodies will overcome those annoying "instinctive behaviours for feeding and mating" that kept bugs with RFID tags glued onto them from performing "reliably" in past studies. (How pesky of living creatures to believe they own their own bodies! How annoying of them to want to live their own lives!) Among other things, Darpa wants the power to force the insects to "remain stationary indefinitely or until otherwise instructed." Sounds like a real barrel of laughs for the bugs.

The goal is for insects to covertly transmit video and "bug" conversations by lurking unseen in enemy hideouts with micro-transmitters strapped to their bodies.

Of course.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1731037,00.html
Even more details: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_Military_Plans_To_Make_Insect_Cyborgs.html

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 7:37 PM | Comments (0)

Nice Recap of Coast to Coast - with audio!

Here is the summary of the interview Pat, Celeste, and I did on Coast to Coast:

Govt. Tracking: RFID & NAIS

Consumer privacy expert Katherine Albrecht, joined by activists Pat Showalter and Celeste Bishop in hour two, spoke out against the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), a USDA plan to track farm animals using RFID chips. Showalter and Bishop, who both own animals in a small scale, non-commercial capacity, said the new regulations are very burdensome for small farmers. For instance, the "Premises Identification" part of the plan requires owners to report any movements or visitors of the animals, even in the case of a few chickens and goats. The cost and time for such monitoring is prohibitive and also an invasion of their privacy, they argued.

Technology is being used to clamp down and control food in general, said Albrecht, who compared the NAIS plan to the tracking done with grocery loyalty cards, and the efforts to restrict farmers' rights to seeds. In regards to the NAIS, she hoped that small farmers will refuse to comply with the plan, as she believes it does nothing to make the food supply safer (the stated goal of the program), and it discourages self-sufficiency.

Further, the RFID chips, used to track the animals, and recently introduced in passports, are susceptible to hackers who can infect large databases with malicious viruses, she pointed out. The bigger picture is that the government is seeking a top down control of the populace on a global level, and there is "a move afoot to number everything and everyone," said Albrecht. However, she finds that US citizens are more prone to resisting these efforts than Europeans, and that the NAIS may be the issue that wakes people up.

Missed the show? APFN has posted audio files here:
http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?disc=149495;article=99836;title=APFN

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 7:28 PM | Comments (0)

Pat Showalter and her goats

Pat Showalter is the Washington state goat herder who made a passionalte appeal against NAIS on Coast to Coast Wednesday night. Pat is a grandmother, artist, goat milk soap maker, educator -- and now a committed activist.

PatnGirls.jpg

When I see her standing on God's green earth tending to these beautiful animals , I am reminded of something Helen Keller wrote in her extraordinary autobiography:

"...I hastened to the green nook, where we have a little cottage....We knew that beyond the border of our Eden men were making history by the sweat of their brows, but we little heeded these things. These things would pass away; here were lakes and woods and broad daisy-starred fields and sweet-breathed meadows , and they shall endure forever. [snip]

In the country, one sees only Nature's fair works, and one's soul is not saddened by the cruel struggle for mere existence that goes on in the crowded city....The sun and the air are God's free gifts to all, we say; but are they so? In yonder city's dingy alleys the sun shines not, and the air is foul....Oh, would that men would leave the city, its splendour and its tumult and its gold, and return to the wood and field and simple, honest living! Then would their children grow stately as noble trees, and their thoughts sweet and pure as wayside flowers. It is impossible not to think of all this when I return to the country after a year of work in town.

What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!"

For now, at least, we can still return to the innocence of God's green earth, fresh and free and wholesome. That's what we're fighting to preserve -- a place of solace from the filth of our cities and the deadening oppression of our own technology. I am fighting to preserve Pat and her goats from the staring glare of the State and its voracious desire to number, monitor, and subjugate her, her goats, and ultimately every living thing on earth.

Agree with me? Go to http://www.NoNAIS.org and take a stand against the mandatory numbering of farms and animals.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006

Coast to Coast listeners are the best!

We have been overwhelmed with email from my appearance on Coast to Coast AM this morning. I can't say enough thanks to all of you who have joined CASPIAN, ordered our book, and offered to volunteer. Together, we are going to have a huge impact on the direction of this country.

Don't forget to go to www.noNais.org and take the action steps on the home page to prevent the farm registration and animal tagging program from going into effect.

Gratefully,
Katherine

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:21 AM | Comments (13)

March 15, 2006

RFID Vulnerable to Viruses!

sneezing RFID tag1.jpg

Melanie Rieback, a Ph.D. student at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, delivered a wake-up call to RFID proponents March 15 at the Fourth Annual IEEE Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications in Pisa, Italy. She gave a live demonstration of how hackers could deploy rogue RFID tags programmed with a virus to wreak havoc on associated databases--possibly even facilitate a terrorist attack.

Read all about it in our latest press release by clicking here.

- Liz McIntyre

Here are more relevant links:

The researchers' website
http://www.rfidvirus.org/

Their paper
http://www.rfidvirus.org/papers/percom.06.pdf

Their press release in english
http://www.rfidvirus.org/papers/press_release.pdf

Here's the link to the BBC article...
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at anti-virus firm F-Secure, said: "RFIDs with embedded computers are suspectible to basically all the same threats any other computers are. Unfortunately."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4810576.stm

(Thanks to Trevor for compiling these links.)

Posted by liz at 12:03 AM | Comments (3)

March 13, 2006

Checkpoint Showcases a Spychipped Shoe

02-28-06_1842.jpg
Photo by Todd Fox

CASPIAN volunteer Todd Fox snapped this photo at the recent RFID World 2006 trade show held in Dallas, Texas. The advertisement depicts a boot with a hidden Checkpoint Systems Performa RFID tag molded into the rubber sole. RFID tagging of any consumer item poses a threat to your privacy, but that threat gets up close and personal in the things we wear--especially shoes.

Why are shoes such an issue? Simple. Ask yourself when was the last time you lent your shoes to someone else. The answer is likely "never." So if someone can scan your shoe to glean its unique RFID tag number that's linked to you, that person could have a pretty good idea of who is standing in it.

Imagine now that someone tracks you through your spychipped shoe via RFID readers hidden under floor tiles in your workplace or in public venues like shopping malls. Philips Electronics has clearly been thinking about this possibility. In a sworn U.S. patent application, a Philips' inventor observes that "the placement of [the RFID tag] in [the] shoe may be particularly advantageous where the [RFID] interrogator is located in a floor." (See page 52 of Spychips.)

Checkpoint's spychipped shoe display comes as no surprise to those of us who have been keeping a close eye on the publicly traded company. Back in the Fall of 2004, Katherine and I documented Checkpoint's scandalous display of prototype flexible clothing labels laced with hidden RFID devices. These labels looked very much like the ones that are sewn into the collar of clothes that might be hanging in your closet, bearing brand names like Calvin Klein, Champion, and Carter's.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 5:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Brilliant anti-RFID protest in Germany

Get a load of what our German privacy colleagues from FoeBuD did at the CeBIT conference this week in Hannover, Germany! This has to be one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen. I am in complete awe of these people.

foebud-ceBIT-protest.jpg
(Click for a full-res version to see the balloons!)

Here, I'll let one of my FoeBud friends describe what happened in his own words:

A group of FoeBuDniks went to the CeBIT on opening day and enrolled a StopRFID banner right in front of the METRO stand. They inflated several dozen toy balloons with helium, fixed them to the banner so that it hung suspended, and somehow manoeuvred it all through the exhibition hall.

I don't yet know of any English coverage of the story, so, for the moment, one German source (Heise) may be enough to give an impression of what happened:

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/70601

If you don't understand the text, you will nonetheless see what the picture says and does... ;-)
And what the operation *did*:

It was taken up by German news agency DPA and thus published in who-knows-how-many daily papers. One of the participants even gave an interview to French TV.

Is that awesome or what??
Anyone in America up for trying to top FoeBud's record for most original anti-RFID protest?

If you've read Spychips, you'll recognize FoeBuD as the organization that helped us uncover the METRO Future Store scandals in 2004 (See Spychips Chapter 6: The RFID Retail Zoo, p. 72.)
http://www.spychips.com/metro/albrecht-tour-1.html

Including the spychip hidden in METRO's frequent shopper card:
http://www.spychips.com/metro/scandal-payback.html

They're the guys who pummelled METRO with a protest, too:
http://www.spychips.com/metro/protest.html

You gotta love 'em!

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:05 AM | Comments (0)

Aaron Russo's new movie is a hit!

aaron-russo-movie.jpg

March 4, 2006

Hollywood Showing Overwhelmed
1000 Show For Russo Screening
of "America.From Freedom to Fascism"

On Thursday evening, approximately 1000 Americans gathered in Hollywood to view producer Aaron Russo's compelling new feature film on the ongoing battle for Freedom inside America.

The Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, which seats almost 500, was overwhelmed by the overflow crowd which in the end, was forced to wait outside in a long line stretching down the block until WTP Chairman Bob Schulz and Aaron Russo reworked the agenda in order to accommodate two showings of the film, "America ... From Freedom to Fascism" that evening.

All told, the approximately 750 who got to see the screenings were markedly enthusiastic, and as at previous screenings elsewhere, gave the film and Russo rousing ovations....

Following the showing this Sunday in Atlanta the next showings of Russo's new film will be next weekend in Medford/Ashland, Oregon (Sat. 3/11) and Portland, Oregon (Sunday 3/12) and Spokane Washington (Monday evening 3/13). The following weekend (March 18/19) the film screens in Chicago, Illinois and Ann Arbor, Michigan.


katherine-albrecht-in-russo-film.jpgedward-griffin-in-russo-film.jpg

While I'm not really a tax protester, I am very familiar with Aaron Russo's new film because I flew to Los Angeles to spend a day filming a segment for it last year. (I also got to meet fellow author and muckraker G. Edward Griffin, above, who is in the film, while I was there.)

Libertarian director Aaron Russo is a gruff, likeable bulldog with a heart of gold. I can't say enough good about my experience working with him on this film.

I am so glad the movie is coming to New Hampshire and I can't wait to see how it all turned out.

More information on Aaron Russo's Movie:

* Watch the trailer (I'm in it!):
http://www.freedomtofascism.com/

* Check the showing schedule:
http://www.givemeliberty.org/RTPLawsuit/Misc/RussoEventSchedule.htm

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 4:35 AM | Comments (6)

March 10, 2006

Homeland Security puts remote tracking plan on hold

dhs-logo.jpgA few weeks ago, we disclosed a Homeland Security plan to use RFID "tokens" tucked in people's wallets to identify them as they walked through doorways and scan them from 25 feet away as they travel in a "car, truck or bus" at speeds of up to 55 mph.

Here's what the government's RFI (request for information) specified:

"The Government requires that [an RFID device] be read under circumstances that include the device being carried in a pocket, purse, wallet, in traveler's clothes, or elsewhere on the person of the traveler. The device must be readable when the traveler walks into a (Port of Entry) or crosses the border... Readers are located in doorways and in individual pedestrian and vehicle lanes to allow identification of where the token is read and to allow association of the token with the individual and, if applicable, the vehicle in which the token is carried."

Evan Schuman of eWeek followed up on our press release and contacted DHS to learn the full story. He discovered that the plan has been put on hold while the government "is trying to determine what technology we are going to use," said Bob Richards, the DHS specialist handling the project.

Apparently, it was not privacy concerns, but bureacratic wrangling that put the project on hold in mid-December. Though DHS reports receiving "a lot of responses" from vendors eager to created the system, Schuman reports that "interdepartmental jurisdiction" issues have become a concern. "Now it's also going to involve the State Department," said Richards. (Feeling safer yet?)

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:31 AM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2006

Cloning the VeriChip

I am catching up on blog entries after two months of non-stop academic work, but I did manage to cram some fun into those months. One of the highlights was doing a TV interview with security researcher Jonathan Westhues.

jonathan-westhues-small-image.jpg
Security Researcher Jonathan Westhues

Jonathan and I commuted to the television studio together. Then, while we were waiting to go on the air, he showed me his VeriChip cloning device -- a gadget smaller than a cell phone that he can wave in the general vicinity of a Verichip to grab its unique ID number. The device is shown below hooked up to a laptop, but he assures me it would work just as well hooked up to a couple of AA batteries -- with no cords and no laptop at all.

jonathan-westhues-katherine-albrecht.jpg
Katherine Albrecht and Jonathan Westhues discuss the VeriChip

So, here's the threat model, in a nutshell:

You think you're maximum-security cyborged out with your embedded microchip. You leave for lunch, secure in the knowledge that your VeriChip-enabled doorway will keep watch over your office. You know the system will refuse to respond to anyone but you, since it is set to recognize only the embedded microchip implant squidged into the muscle tissue of your upper arm.

Then along comes Mr. Weshues. He brushes past you on the elevator as you're leaving, muttering a sotto voce "Excuse me." (Little do you realize he has just cloned your VeriChip.) As you leave the elevator and head for for the bistro, Mr. Westhues heads straight for your office door. A wave of his VeriChip cloning device, and Voila - the door pops open and within seconds he's into your most imtimate files. He's done collecting his data before you've even finished your appetizer and ordered the entree.

jonathan-westhues-skimmer-kit.jpg
VeriChip skimmer/cloner device hooked up to a laptop

Think a microchip implant is secure? Think again. It's about the least secure thing you could use to lock a door -- or anything else.


westhues-verichip-skimmer.jpg
VeriChip skimmer/cloner closeup

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:58 PM | Comments (2)

Tommy Thompson gets his own copy of Spychips

Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and member of Board of Directors for the VeriChip corporation, gave a talk in New Hampshire last week. It was the perfect opportunity to have a quick chat with him, talk to him about the downsides of the VeriChip, and give him a copy of Spychips.

In chatting with the former secretary, I learned that he has not yet taken a chip implant (thank goodness). He dismissed the medical downsides of the VeriChip, and the fact that the data may not be available in case of an emergency, but I was surprised to learn that Mr. Thompson had not been informed of the security downsides of the VeriChip. (Somehow, it's not surprising that Verichip would keep that from him.)

"I'm new to this whole VeriChip thing," Mr. Thompson said, by way of explanation.

I'd love for Mr. Thompson to meet security researcher Jonathan Westhues (a good guy) who can seamlessly skim the data from an implanted chip and clone it literally in a matter of seconds. It's amazing that VeriChip has managed to keep this information from Mr. Thompson

tommy-thompson-gets-spychips-copyright-image.jpg
Katherine Albrecht gives a copy of Spychips to Tommy Thompson

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 9:21 AM | Comments (0)

Coming down the doctoral home stretch!

For the last few months, when I haven't been doing radio interviews I've been frantically crunching data and writing up the first draft of my doctoral dissertation. I've already passed my orals, so as soon as I polish the draft into a publishable thesis, I will don the flamingo-colored Harvard doctoral robe and graduate this June with my Doctorate in Education. (Finally.) Hooray!

harvard-robes.jpg


The topic of my research is supermarket frequent shopper or "loyalty" cards, the issue that got me started on the consumer privacy kick back in 1999. (See http://www.nocards.org) What I discovered by surveying shoppers in several states was quite surprising -- essentially, nobody knows the supermarket is collecting their data when they scan a shopper card.

When we surveyed several hundred people across five states and asked them, essentially, "Do stores use cards to make a record of your individual purchases?" 75% o them answered incorrectly. This is amazing news. It means people are unknowingly handing their data to the marketers and retailers -- not doing so willingly, as the industry would like to have us believe.

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 5:24 AM | Comments (0)