2014: A Space Odyssey

The RFID utopia is relatively small in comparison to its dystopia. The pros of the technology are quickly consumed by the cons. In case you were wondering, RFIDs are chips which allow information to be transferred along radio waves. According to Wikipedia, multiple books can be checked out all at once without even opening the front covers in libraries that use RFID technology. My new passport has an RFID chip in it which has the same information as my passport, meaning that I can check myself onto an international flight using a kiosk, no more lines! My friend Morgan’s Michigan drivers’ license has a chip too. It allows the state to check on Morgan’s location. This could be helpful if she were kidnapped. Or if the government were trying to keep tabs on Morgan. RFID chips are how many farmers keep track of their livestock. It’s about the same thing with a human being…right? In fact, some people are choosing to have the chips implanted. According to Andy Greenberg, “The practical appeal of an RFID implant, in theory, is quick authentication that’s faster, cheaper and more reliable than other biometrics like thumbprints or facial scans.”

 

But how safe is our data? According to an article by Annalee Newitz for Wired magazine, it is not that hard to hack these RFID cards to gather information. Not only can hackers access your information, but they can also duplicate the signals. This means that hackers can gain access to your hotel room by merely bumping into you. How long before we are all required to wear RFID badges like these Texan students? Like Kayla, in The Bar Code Tattoo (one of my favorite books growing up), those of us who refuse RFID implants or badges may face serious consequences. While this may seem far fetched or even paranoid, what was once considered sci-fi is quickly becoming reality. As members of Generation Y, it is our responsibility to consider the consequences of ‘easy access.’

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