Physorg reports on a new poll that shows one in four Germans would accept being implanted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip if they believed the benefits outweighed concerns, including privacy questions. RFID systems transmit data wirelessly from a chip or tag to a reader.
The survey, by German IT industry lobby group BITKOM, was intended to show how the division between real life and the virtual world is increasingly coming down, one of the main themes of the CeBIT trade fair that kicks off Tuesday.
In all, 23 percent of around 1,000 respondents in the survey said they would be prepared to have a chip inserted under their skin “for certain benefits”.
Around one in six (16 percent) said they would wear an implant to allow emergency services to rescue them more quickly in the event of a fire or accident.
And five percent of people said they would be prepared to have an implant to make their shopping go more smoothly.
But 72 percent said they would not “under any circumstances” allow electronics in their body.
There are numerous privacy questions that arise from “chipping” individuals so that their every move can be tracked and recorded. But there are also data-security questions.
Last year, hacker Chris Paget released a video showing how he was able to remotely scan, gather ID information, and clone “passport cards” and “enhanced driver’s licenses.” Paget used cheap, off-the-shelf technology, “a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190″ in order to “read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car,” the Associated Press reported. “Within an hour, he’d ’skimmed’ the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.”
Paget’s experiment comes as governments are increasingly using wireless RFID technology in identification documents. Academic researchers have detailed (pdf) security and privacy vulnerabilities in the federal government’s “passport cards” and “enhanced driver’s licenses,” which the federal government deploys in conjunction with some state motor vehicle departments.
The states also have placed limits on the use of RFID technology. In 2008, Missouri passed HB 2041, which makes it a misdemeanor for any employer to “require an employee to have personal identification microchip technology implanted into the employee for any reason.” The states of California, North Dakota (pdf) and Wisconsin (pdf) also have passed legislation forbidding the compelled implantation of RFID chips in humans.