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What can I do?

We are not out to prevent RFID completely. We are also not out to disrupt the development of RFID, even if people like to read this into our "stop sign" logo. On the contrary. For us, "Stop RFID" means the same as what the stop sign means to traffic on the streets: stop, take a short pause, look right and left, and continue your voyage only when you know that all is safe. We do not want abolishment of RFID but laws that protect the privacy of the citizens.

Zum deutschen Text gehts hier lang.

The industry, the retail business and the political promoters of economic development are dashing full speed ahead onto the billion-dollar market RFID, not minding as they do so that the privacy of the people gets trodden into the ground of the side-strip. We see ourselves as "watchdogs" of this development - and you can help us.

Our work costs money, of course. How you can send donations or/and support the FoeBuD in other ways is laid down (in German) on our page "Was kann ich tun?".

Buying from our online shop would kill two birds with one stone: you purchase something hip and trendy and/or practical with respect to the topic StopRFID which can pose as the opener for one or the other exciting discussion. And while you engage in discussions, we can go on working in the background. If this isn't something!

Active measures against RFID could be:

  • Find RFIDs If you find RFIDs somewhere (meaning a chip with an antenna around it - in most cases it is enough to hold the item, e.g. a credit card, into the beam of a strong torch light, sometimes RFIDs can be found under stickers) please send us an e-mail. We already know of quite a number of places and have collected some of them on our page "Where do I find RFID?"
    The question of how to detect and recognise hidden chips is answered in our FAQ.
    The radio frequency of the most current RFIDs in retail is 13.56 MHz. When a radio beam of this frequency hits an RFID chip, it beams back the information stored on it. You can tune your shortwave radio in to this frequency. If you hold it near an RFID antenna (i.e. a readout device) that emits at this frequency you will hear a quickly pulsating noise much like the sound of a mobile phone near a loudspeaker. This is a quick way of finding out whether the RFID-frequency is being beamed around in your supermarket. If you are in that DIY mood you may want to have a go at the RFID-Tag-Finder described in a german computer magazine some time ago.

  • Check carefully whether an RFID chip is really useful for you or whether you could gain the same benefit from a bar code or another measure. If you don't see any benefit for yourself, refuse to use cards and goods that carry RFID chips and insist on receiving an alternative that enables you to get the same service (like e.g. in a ski-lift or on the bus) without the involvement of radio waves.
  • Talk to shop personnel, to organisers of fairs and meetings and/or to door stewards when you find RFID anywhere. The users of RFID need to know that you know about the technology and don't want any part in it. This is about the only way to start a thought process in the society. Be prepared for a longer discussion - in most cases the technology will be implemented without any critical look at it.

  • When you have found a spychip demand detailed information about where readout antennas are placed, which data will be collected, how long they will be stored and who will have access to them. Under German law, you can also demand deletion of the data.

  • By all means demand to be entitled to the same rights as with a chip if your chip is destroyed. Some users for instance couple rights of exchange with the RFID chip. But in German law, they have to grant you the same rights in the conventional way (submission of the POS receipt etc.). This is actionable, if need be. (Should you do this, please give us notice!!)

Can you think of other ways? We would be glad to add your ideas to this page.

Technical counter-measures:

  • For the time being, metal casings can protect you, that is the chips you carry with you against being read out without you noticing it. The waves emitted by the reading antennas can't go through metal cases (think Faraday cage). But naturally this requires that you know which goods you carry with you have a chip. (A handful of examples can be found on our page "Where do I find RFID?") And this method gets a little tricky when it comes to chips in your coat sleeve or in the soles of your shoes...
    Metal casings for credit- or customer's cards, for passports etc. can be bought from our in our online-shop. All profits from our shop go directly into our work.

  • In some shops they will present you so-called "deactivators". Insist on having them explained to you in detail. Some of these machines will e.g. overwrite only one of the numbers or codes stored on the chip, while on the other hand the unique serial number will remain untouched. Apart from this, "overwriting" does not mean "destroying", so the radio chip will remain "on air".

  • You can effectively destroy the chip by cutting through its antenna or, even better, punching a hole into it so as to make sure that there will be definitely no (accidental) contact between the parts of the antenna possible any more. Now the chip cannot emit anything any more. It could be that you are refused entry to the concert hall with a hole in your ticket. Stand up against such measures. Nowhere is it written that destroying RFIDs were not allowed, and anyway you have payed for the ticket after all!

  • Every so often people suggest to destroy RFID chips in the microwave oven in your kitchen. We advise strongly against this! It takes only seconds until your chip will burst up in flames - taking the surrounding material of the respective product with it. Your yoghurt cups, customer cards or shoe-soles will get very nasty holes, and in addition you will have to clear up the mess afterwards...

  • There is a so called "blocker tag" that sends out interfering signals to disrupt readout of RFID chips. Since 2004 we haven't heard of further development of this device. We don't think this concept is technically mature. Our position about blocker tags can be found here.

2007-04-11 17:35