Sometimes it is difficult to avoid a debate against science and religion.
Sweden has always been known to be a few steps ahead when it comes to dealing with controversial or new age ideas - much like the personal identification number in 1947 where everything about an individual is linked to a twelve digit number in the form YYYYMMDD-ABCD - pretty easy to remember if you know your birthday and the four digit code contains information about your sex and a checksum for verification purposes.
Ask any Swedish citizen if they are concerned about this universal identity number - the same number for your taxation, drivers license, medical records, employment, or even club memberships. It is part of every day life - widely accepted and few are paranoid as the system has been built and continually enhanced with adequate security measures to ensure the system is secure and cannot be abused by third parties.
Whats the fuss all about then when it comes to extending this to an RFID implant?
For years now, many countries around the world have implemented the mandatory microchipping of our canine and feline buddies. Heck, that has been widely accepted - only recently can Swedish citizens can also get in the action - getting a similar RFID chip implant to make improvements to their every day lives - but, at what cost?
For years, countless people have argued that an RFID chip represented the Mark of the Beast, a biblical reference to associating yourself to the devil and that you are doomed for the afterlife. In fact, no-where does it mention RFID as a means but the interpretation amongst biblical scholars are trying to associate ancient biblical texts to this technology.
Ok; lets first understand the concept of RFID:
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. A tag can be read from up to several feet away and does not need to be within direct line-of-sight of the reader to be tracked.
In this case, the RFID tags are passive meaning they are not powered in any way and only reveal a unique identifier when a RFID reader is within appropriate proximity to provide a magnetic field to excite the electrons and power up the tag. In fact, you have RFID chips all over the place - your local shop uses them to prevent you from shop lifting, your bank cards for contactless shopping - they are everywhere and people have been exposed to them for years.
But, what is with the paranoia?
A nice article with an unbiased look at the pros and cons of human microchipping has been written - reading between the lines and most cons are heavily supported by the paranoid with "what if" situations. The cons standard more on their own feet without judgement. For arguments sake; lets say you have an RFID implant, and the tag contains the following data:
What exactly can they do with this string of numbers? It doesn't say anything about you - it just seems to be this random number that the technology can assume is unique because the chips have been issued by an authority that, the person who has it has signed up with and allow them to act as a gateway for their identity.
You want to use an RFID implant as a train ticket - is your privacy invaded?
The conductor of the train company will have a handheld device with an embedded RFID reader that would scan the unique code from your hand. This number would then be queried against the centralised source (provider of RFID implants) to check if there is an association between your implant and the train company - who of course will be certified to do this check and you would have also agreed in advance to allow the association.
You either have a valid ticket, or you do not.
The bottom line is that you will need to have, in advance, associated your RFID to a specific set of services that you wish to use with your new implant. There is no threat of mass tracking of people, stealing a persons identity, or even finding more information than you wish to have disclosed about your identity.
You can be certain that appropriate security measures are in place to have some form of encryption and validation of the reader for the RFID tag to provide additional security. Only certified companies would be able to process the information stored on the tag, if done right - the same tag could appear different depending on the company that is reading it, adding more obscurity and uniqueness and remove the threat of identity theft.
The biggest concern to society is if this technology gets adopted is fragmentation.
Fragmentation would kill this technology, only a globally accepted implant would succeed - to ensure people who travel the world do not need multiple implants. I am sure there will soon be a market for RFID blocking gloves - but will they actually be needed or become a fashion accessory for the paranoid?