Tech conference changes policy, rescinds requirement for chipped, unremovable bracelets for attendees

Update: Justin Reese from Abstractions writes, "policy changes were implemented last night and additional changes were made this morning."

He adds, "The article was also inaccurate from the start by calling the wristbands surveillance devices in the title. They are only used to control access and don't track where users are or have been except in the case where the attendee has given explicit permission in their profiles to share with sponsors and completed a double opt-in by scanning their ID at the sponsor table (the read range is about 2"). Unless we receive a double opt-in, the ids on the wristband are never associated with a user. It is no more a surveillance device than any other conference badge. I'd appreciate a retraction of this inaccuracy and an update regarding our policies."

Reese is correct that the manufacturers design RFID chips to be read from inches; however, that doesn't mean that they can't be read from longer distances (for example, distant, directional antennas can read them at longer distances while they are being energized by a nearby reader). Likewise, the idea that users can't be identified from persistent, anonymous identifiers is incorrect.

It's a pretty good example of how a thin understanding of privacy issues in wireless technologies and statistical analysis can result in selecting authentication systems that expose users to privacy risks.

Sumana Harihareswara (previously) writes, "The Abstractions tech conference (Aug 21-23, in Pittsburgh) doesn't tell attendees this before they buy a ticket, but attendance requires you wear their wristband with an embedded tracking chip -- and that you don't take it off at night or in the shower till the conference ends. Read the rest

X-ray of the RFID and coil inside a US passport

Alan writes, "For a while, I wondered what the RFID chip looked like inside the front cover of a US passport. Yesterday, I had an x-ray image of my passport taken. Looks pretty cool. Chip is in the left upper front of the book, connected coiled wire (high-rez)." Read the rest

California legislature wants to mandate radio-readable driver's licenses (CALL NOW!)

The new licenses can be read from up to 30' away and at the last minute, nearly all privacy protections were stripped from the bill mandating them. Read the rest

21st century vocab: "Card clash"

It's what happens when you wave your bag at an RFID reader while you get on the tube and the turnstyle charges your ride the wrong card: Read the rest