Ever heard of RFID (radio-frequency I.D.)? It has the potential to make life more convenient and safe for all of us. Sadly, China is leading the way. The United States should be in the forefront of this exciting technology that will make purchases more convenient and can be used to keep lawbreakers and terrorists at bay.
It has already been implanted in pets to ensure that Fluffy and Fido don’t get lost. It has been implanted in people and used to get exclusive access to trendy clubs. And it will be implanted in our troops to help keep track of them and to identify their remains. RFID is attached to CDs and DVDs to reduce shoplifting. Have you ever heard that “beep” when some kid tried to sneak a rap CD out of the store under his coat? That’s RFID.
It can be attached to cars to allow drivers to get through toll booths without having to stop to pay. It will be inserted into passports and ID cards so that people can be identified from a distance without having to physically show the ID. It’s amazing how many uses this device has!
Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.
Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.
Incredible, isn’t it?
Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime.
This technology can be used to keep scofflaws and terrorists out.
“If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future,” said Michael Lin, the vice president for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company providing the technology.
Fortunately America is catching up. But we have a long ways to go.
But rising fears of terrorism have lessened public hostility to surveillance cameras in the West. This has been particularly true in Britain, where the police already install the cameras widely on lamp poles and in subway stations and are developing face recognition software as well.
New York police announced last month that they would install more than 100 security cameras to monitor license plates in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year. Police officials also said they hoped to obtain financing to establish links to 3,000 public and private cameras in the area by the end of next year; no decision has been made on whether face recognition technology has become reliable enough to use without the risk of false arrests.
It would seem prudent to go ahead and implement the system and iron out the bugs later. There are terrorists out there who want to kill us. New Yorkers and Londoners know about this first hand.
Of course the ACLU and various other nutty groups are more than happy to leave us wide open to terrorist infiltration due to their own paranoia. Their baseless fear of RFID, the technology of the future, should be ridiculed and ignored. After all, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.
Update: Real ID scofflaw states will face penalties.
Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act.