back to article US state outlaws RFID data theft

US legislators are clamping down on the use of RFID technologies to steal personal data as cards using the technology become more ubiquitous. Washington state governor Chris Gregoire this week signed a bill which will make data theft by RFID illegal and punishable with up to 10 years in jail. The bill was signed in response …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Like they make a difference to the people that'd actually do this anyway. If someone wants to steal your RFID details, they will.

  2. Johnny Point


    Whaddya mean, outlaw theft? What's this world coming to?

    Much better to create a guild for it ...

    Mine's the bland, inconspicuous one, with the pointy hat.

  3. Neil

    Controlling my data

    Is there a reason that RFID cards and passports don't (or can't) have a switch on them controlling whether they broadcast or not?

    That way, I can go about my business without worrying if someone with a portable RFID scanner is stealing my personal data, and then flip the switch when I want to get on the tube.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    I may be no expert on this, but isn't the sensible path not to use tags known to be unsafe, rather than threaten legal action that won't be possible to properly ensure compliance with? The bad guys will carry on anyway since the chances of proving where they got information from is slim, even if caught.

    If I take an RFID card from work or the grocery store, I should have the sense to know it is unprotected and unsafe, so I don't get surprised when the bad guys pick up all my data from it.

  5. Ru

    Because making it illegal will stop criminals doing it!

    No, wait a minute, what are criminals again?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Fucking idiots

    The problem here is that criminals tend to ignore laws, and see punishment as an occupational hazard.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    RFID devices are supposed to be small, cheap, simple and (normally) passive. Thus, no switch.

  8. Ru


    >If I take an RFID card from work or the grocery store, I should have the sense to know it is unprotected and unsafe, so I don't get surprised when the bad guys pick up all my data from it.

    Should you? Should everyone know? Is there going to be mass education about the potential security and privacy concerns of RFID tags? Doubtful.

    There seems to be an ever increasing trend towards enforcing lax security with hefty legal threats. Its a nice way to protect your assets without having to invest in more rigorous product development. Crack my ROT13 will you? Eat DMCA!

  9. Philip J.F. Quinlan

    Switch for RFID

    My initial thought was a shielded container, so I did a quick search, and someone has actually patented the concept of a card-holder which shields a contained card when closed.( I would have thought that was a bit blindingly obvious myself.

    Ahh, nearly pub o' clock

  10. greg

    We should obviously pass laws to make

    Adultery a crime. Without adultery, how many lifes would we save from passionate revenge crimes ?

    Cheaters are terrorrists ! Think about the children !

    So really, what are YOU waiting to bug your representatives to pass this new law, asap !

  11. Wize

    Outlaw reading other peoples cards?

    With a card thats readable from outside your pocket, its like trying to prosecute for someone illegally reading your t-shirt.

    Shouldn't it be illegal to put some sensitive data on a non-secure place (like an rfid card)?

    Mine is the one with the tin-foil wallet in the pocket.

  12. G R Goslin

    A suggestion

    Perhaps we need an RFID tag with an audio function which screams out at high volume, "Help. Help. I'm being ripped off!!!"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Machine Readable ID Cards

    When I got a new driver's license a few years ago, it had a nifty magnetic stripe on the back presumably loaded with all my personal details. I thought carefully about it for a few minutes and I could see absolutely no advantage to having that stripe readable and I could see some possible benefits to having it scrambled (tiny possibility of a traffic officer wielding a card reader giving up in frustration - not likely but still...). So, using a crowbar to peel my very strongest super-magnet from it's metal storage place, I thoroughly erased the data from the stripe.

    So, if I get news that my any of my government-mandated ID cards have an RFID tag in them, I'm likely to arrange a spark gap across that part of the card. The only exception might be a passport where the cost/benefit ratio seems to get slightly over the line of acceptability.

  14. Malboeuf

    It's a strange universe...

    > RFID devices are supposed to be small, cheap, simple and (normally) passive. Thus, no switch.

    What a coincidence!? I'm small, cheap, simple, and (normally) passive, too! And, I have no switch! I wonder if I'm dangerous? Maybe I should be outlawed?

  15. James O'Brien


    I hate America. I mean seriously new laws when old laws already exist that criminals dont follow currently anyway. Weee thats our tax dollars at work.

    I mean serious if someone is going to be reading the information from them how the hell are you going to know? Will a little red light start flashing to let you know there was an attempt or something to read the card? I dont think so.

    Does anyone out there want to sponsor a pissy American for citizenship to England? Atleast you have good beer over there. :)

    Anon since I dont want the feds coming after me saying im a terrorist for saying I hate America.

    /mines the one with the whip antenna coming out the back

  16. StopthePropaganda
    Thumb Down

    more laws, hey why not?

    typical Democrat response. It's worked so well to stop gang violence and armed robberies and street murder by banning guns from law abiding citizens only, hasn't it?

    Seriously, since when did leftist lawyers bugger up the legal system so badly that it's more important to go after *how* a crime was committed to get a conviction instead of the fact that the crime *was committed in the first place*?!

    ID theft is illegal. Theft is illegal. Fraud is illegal. Cons and scams are illegal. Why the hell should it make a difference if it's committed by RFID capture, internet means, social engineering, garbage bin diving, or psychic brain scanning?

  17. James O'Brien


    Hehe forgot the anon posting. If you guys no longer see me my new mailing address with be in GuanLKjhdeasldfl.q,w/.qw

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh thank god

    I thought they were never going to crack down on these scanners I feel so much safer now. Law makers and Paris Hilton roughly similar intellectual capacities.

  19. Steve Sherlock

    Data security is still security...

    It's breaking the law if some little chav breaks into my house while I'm out. If he's caught, he's likely to be banged up.

    Does that stop me from locking my doors when I leave? Hell no - I want to be able to lock up RFIDs too!

  20. Wayland Sothcott

    @James O'Brien

    I am afraid the beer has gone downhill quite a bit. Good bottled beer is very expensive. Canned beer burns my throat. Pubs are empty because of the smoking ban and the drink drive paranoia. They never have more than one draft beer and the other beers are ice cold and full of nitrogen so you can't taste how disgusting they are. Better brew your own beer or see if you have some good microbrewerys near you.

    A metal wallet would be a good idea.

    I am sorry but these problems are global. Much of the bad stuff is tested first in the UK then exported. It makes no difference if the technology does not perform it's stated objective since that's just a cover for the real objective which will be against you, the law abiding individual.

    Arguing that something is a bad idea because it does not help with your freedom and liberty is rather opposite to the point. If it makes these things worse then it's likely to be approved. See the doublethink and spot what's coming next.

    No point in getting my coat and leaving "you always take the weather with you".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    its easily fixed... most rfid tags can be permanently disabled after a few seconds in the microwave...

    <clack> <bip> <bip> <buzz> <ding> - problem solved!

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