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 New ID Card Tracking? You're Already A Beacon

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posted on Feb, 2 2007 @ 09:05 AM
News Source:

New ID Card Tracking?
You're Already A Beacon
By Ted Twietmeyer

Much has been uttered and printed regarding the new national ID card, coming soon to a pocket near you. Many are upset by this little gem of technology, fearing big brother and Orwell's ideas. But is it the first way they will have to personally track you? First, let's take a look at the essential factor for spying-at-a-distance without optics: Radio frequencies. To begin with, it is generally accepted that frequencies of 50 Megahertz (MHz) and higher will travel from Earth's surface, through the ionosphere and into space. 50 Megahertz is actually the start of the VHF television band, channel 2 in the United States and Canada.
A former member of the intelligence community went public on a television documentary about the first Gulf War in Iraq, in 1991. When Saddam purchased all new printers and computers for his military installations everywhere, a special chip was provided to the printer manufacturer by an American Intelligence agency. It did everything the normal chip in the circuit did to make the printer work, plus one additional function. The chip acted like a beacon when pinged by a satellite signal, enabling American forces to drop a bomb on every single military installation. And that was 16 years ago! Now imagine how advanced things are now. The rule of thumb has been the military advances 44 years, for every year of civilian technology. That's right - high density, high pin count microchips date back to the 1960s. That's when THEY had them. Everyone else was still working with individual transistors.
You may wonder what all this has to do with RFID. The answer is everything, because spy satellites orbiting Earth 200 miles up cannot detect radio signals very well below 50 MHz! These lower frequencies bounce off the Earth's ionosphere as though it were a mirror, returning them back to Earth or in some cases, completely absorbing them.
In the earlier days of "remote control USA," garage door openers first operated near the 27MHz citizens band frequency. Remote control systems for model airplanes and boats also used this band in the 1970s. There were no personal devices like cell phones, PDAs, WiFi networks, GPS or other toys. All of today's electronic toys operate at far higher frequencies - and all are well within the listening capability of spy satellites. These satellites have directional antenna arrays as large as a football field, that fold out and deploy upon reaching orbit. Super-cooled, ultra-high gain amplifiers can pull a signal out of the mud for almost any given frequency of interest. The shuttle is used to deploy these satellites for the defense dept. on classified missions. Satellite launches are not televised.
Below are just a few of the FCC assigned frequencies for today's toys. This data was extracted from a lengthy 56 page table [1] which came straight from the FCC, the keeper of all things for communications in the USA. Canada's regulatory body generally follows the same spectrum assignments, being a close geographic neighbor. With the exception of the television band included for reference only, I have left out numerous bands reserved for satellite data, Earth to space communications, etc... and other frequencies reserved for non-personal use:
Fixed and land mobile communications - 152 to 156MHz, 161MHz etc...
Maritime Mobile - 156MHz.
TV channels 2 through 13 - 174 to 216MHz.
Amateur radio - 222 to 225MHz. (One of many bands for amateurs)
Fixed mobile - 225 through 328MHz divided into numerous bands
Garage door openers - 317MHz.
Amateur radio location as needed - 420 to 430MHz.
Remote Vehicle Starters - 433MHz
Private land mobile - 451 to 460MHz. divided into numerous bands
Cell phones - 824 to 894 and 1900MHz.
Private paging - 929 to 930MHz.
Broadband PCS - 1850 to 1980 MHz divided into numerous bands
Computer WiFi networking - 4.9GHz [2]
Newer cordless Phones - 5.2GHz. These started at 49Mhz, then went to 900MHz and higher.
The above list is just a small sample of assigned frequencies. Every time you push a talk button on a radio, use a cordless phone (newer cordless digital phones operate at 5.2GHz.,) start a car, activate a garage door opener remote control, place a phone call, page someone etc... you and/or they light up like an airport beacon in the government's satellite tracking system.
Starting your car in the winter by using your remote car starter is a dream invention for intelligence agencies - you're telling them you're about to leave!
The frequencies used by the national ID card will not be officially published of course. However, it won't be long before some enterprising person finds out what they are with testing, and jams the daylights out of them. The FCC has declared a drop-dead date for all current analog commercial television broadcasting from channel 2 through 83 to cease. This date came and went, and has been changed by the Senate to Feb. 17th 2009. [3]
How did they arrive at Feb. 17th 2009? A bigger question still remains unanswered - what will the government dp with the 500 megahertz of spectrum this ban suddenly frees up? No one to date has discussed this issue. This spectrum is not attractive to manufacturers, because these lower frequencies by necessity require very big antennas, as compared to those on cell phones, WiFi boxes and computers, etc... It's also not useful for human RFID implants either which currently use very low frequencies, less than 1 MHz.
With all the "broadcasting" everyone does now using all these electronic devices and many others - why is everyone is worried about being tracked by the ID card?
It would seem to be the least of our problems.
Ted Twietmeyer
Strange footnote: UHF television channel 37 is now reserved by the FCC for radio telescope use.
[1] -
[2] -
[3] -

posted on Feb, 2 2007 @ 11:42 AM
If this was true HAM radio operators (myself included) all over the world would know about it.


posted on Feb, 2 2007 @ 03:44 PM

Another ham here.

A bigger question still remains unanswered - what will the government dp with the 500 megahertz of spectrum this ban suddenly frees up? No one to date has discussed this issue.

This guy doesn't have a clue. for example the UHF TV band is not going away, when the switch to HDTV happens there will be more room in the band so they are changing the usage of the upper end of the band to public service (Police, Fire, etc..). this happened back in '98 (see FCC ET DOCKET NO. 97-157) And as I recall there were a lot of services who wanted to use that bandwidth.

posted on Feb, 3 2007 @ 05:44 AM
As an RFID application programmer, let me say this: utter and plain B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.

posted on Feb, 3 2007 @ 06:03 AM
You HAM guys ought to know. I really think the switch to digital TV is nothing more than an economic decision based upon future use of bands and technologies that they are developing and communications lobbying for what needs to be done.

It isn't a perfect solution, but no one dies because they don't have analog TV signals and certainly this has nothing to do with the national ID. RFID is very inefficient compared to tracking someones monetary transactions which does not require RFID or satellites or any hairballed systems just for that purpose. All it requires is a database and network and your willing signature on a bank account and debit card.

posted on Feb, 3 2007 @ 02:09 PM
Ah, Ted. I think of him as the Emily Litella of conspiracy theorists.

Remember Emily? She was one of Gilda Radner's characters on SNL way back. She would misunderstand something she'd heard and go on a big verbal tear about "Youth in Asia" or "the war on canker". One of my favorites was her rant about the "deaf penalty". At the end someone would tell her that she'd misheard, at which point she'd say "Never mind".

Ted's got an understanding problem like Emily. At one point, he decided that all metal detectors were, in fact, X-ray machines that were killing us all with their deadly radiation. No doubt a plot to sterilize us. Obviously, ol' Ted didn't understand how something other than an X-ray machine could FIND metal. So, that's what it had to be. "Never mind."

On his website, he's had this topic up for years about time running at different rates here and there on Earth. That got started when someone noticed that all their clocks were off at the MUST be a quantum time leap! My God! Of course, it was a lot more prosaic...Ted didn't understand that both analog and digital clocks powered by an AC line socket (even some that say they're quartz and have backup batteries) mostly use the AC frequency for a time reference. That frequency is supposed to be tightly regulated at 60Hz for just that reason...but if your local grid goes off the national grid for a while, they often drift. That happened in the area where these "quantum time leaps" were noticed, and it happens here and there pretty frequently. If your local grid is running separately for a while, it can build up, five, maybe ten minutes of error over a few days. Ted doesn't know how the digital clock on your VCR works though...never mind!

Here's Ted again, spouting off stuff he doesn't really understand all that well.

I'll assume it's rather obvious to you that if national ID cards come out, they won't have batteries in them. Or that you'd change them out regularly if they did. So I think we can safely cross out the possibility that national ID cards with an RFID chip in them could possibly transmit constantly on their own. That takes power, you don't have any, end of issue.

Most RFID parts, except for some specialty applications, run from the interrogator power. That is, the reader emits enough radio energy, in the case of E-field tags, or enough of an AC magnetic field, in the case of H-field tags, that the part can run itself from the minute amount of power that it can intercept. The class of parts that do this are called passive RFID tags.

E-field parts are generally pretty limited. They can't get a lot of power out of the incident RF, so they are generally slow, and only return serial numbers. You don't have a lot of power to play around with on E-field tags. E-field tags can be read at a short distance, depending on the interrogator power and frequency you can get up to 10 meters or so, but the farther away you get the "less intelligent" the tag can be due to there being less and less power to run from as you move away from the interrogator. The power drops as the square of the distance.

H-field parts can have more intelligence but have greater distance restrictions. At close ranges you can get enougn power from the interrogator to run a fairly competent microprocessor. That's how the "no swipe" credit cards and the E-passport work. Most likely, that's how an ID part with enough memory and security to be worth using is going to work as well. H-fields (or near fields) aren't really "radio" in the sense that they propagate like radio. It's more like you sliced a transformer in two, with one half on the ID card and the other in the interrogator. It's what they call a reactive component. Outside what we call the "lambda wall", the near field components fall away to nothing as the fields that the interrogator is putting out become full-fledged radio waves and radiate away, "detached" from the interrogator's antenna.

This reactive power/lambda wall combo puts an unavoidable limit on how far away you can interrogate an H-field part like an implant, (all implants are H-field) or the parts on an e-passport. That's because the reactive power components between two air-coupled coils (that's what you have) falls of as the SIXTH POWER OF THE DISTANCE. Much past a meter, the interrogator has to belch out Amps of excitation to get a few milliAmps of power at the card, and at 2 meters, you'd need a bank of car batteries.

From a satellite, all the power generated on Earth couldn't turn that card on.

The other half, the near-field boundary, or "lambda wall" is another insuperable barrier. H-field cards communicate to the interrogator by throwing a load on and off of the interrogator's excitation coils. That can only be sensed by the interrogator if the reactive field is still coupled to it, and that ceases past the lambda wall. Even if you had the tag powered with its own battery so that the operating power wasn't an issue, the interrogator won't get any signal back past about 3.5 meters for a 13.56MHz tag such at the ones in an E-passport, because the fields beyond that distance don't return to the interrogator.

So, Ted's off in many ways:

1) such cards don't have power built-in and thus can't "transmit all the time"

2) RFID normally depends on power from the reader device, either by radio wave (e-field) or magnetic wave (H-field). Both are terribly inefficient, with radio falling off as the square of the distance and reactive h-fields as the sixth power of the distance. No satellite could possible interrogate ground RFID tags because it could not power them.

3) the story about the printer part is crap. Ever installed your own home satellite TV? Ever used a GPS? Can you just pitch one out on the deck and have it work? No? Can you put one inside the house and have it work well? I didn't think so.

There's not a lot of signal coming DOWN from a satellite...even LEO sats are pretty far away and the satellite doesn't have a lot of power to spare. So the idea that you can design an integrated circuit that just happens to fit a design that's already been done, but can magically also use the traces on the design as receiving and transmit antennas is just bogus. Chip design for a complex chip like a microprocessor doesn't happen overnight, the idea that you could just push a button and magically add in a satellite transmitter and receiver is nuts. Not the least of the problems is that it would take forever to do, and the processes for analog IC's are not the same as those for digital. That's why you see the power amp and receiver parts separated from the digital stuff in most RF designs, even where the space is at a premium like a cell phone. Not only that, any such design will have to have the usual external bits like tank circuits and SAW filters. The idea that you could just use address lines or something for your transmit and receive antennae is something only Ted would come up with. Yeah, Ted boy, I'd like to see your guys able to pull the downlink from the satellite out of the ground-bounce mush on a micro using the front panel LED pin.

If it was a BIG printer with some room to move around inside, you MIGHT be able to install a sat phone knockoff or something, at least that way you could optimally design it. But a lot of THEM won't work inside all that well, at least mine won't.

A better, more plausible story would have been for your fictitious agency to have embedded a GSM bug in the printer. That's easy enough to do and tough to spot, and we DO use those, all the time.

So this part of Ted's story: urban legends of the uninformed. Call me for a better story next time.

4) "The rule of thumb has been the military advances 44 years, for every year of civilian technology."

Pure and utter bollocks. Ok. Let's think about that. Since 1950, the military has advanced 2500 years. Puh-leaze. This is one of those magic "planetary"'s right from Uranus.

What I think he MAY have meant was that there was a 44 year offset, but even that is not right. In 1960, the big deal was still those stacked hybrids. Those were pretty cool, I have one from a missile somewhere in my keepsake pile. It's a little ice-cube sized stack of wafers with some sort of parts on, all gooped up with red resin of some sort, and it has pins that run from top to bottom through the stack like girders in a little skyscraper. It's pretty cool even now, but it's not an integrated circuit by any means. In the mid '60's they did swap over to the first IC's in military equipment, but it was RTL or DTL stuff, really basic like a pair of gates or one flip-flop. "High density, high pin count microchips" would have been nice. I've seen some of the designs from this era and while they're marvels of ingenuity given the constraints they had, it ain't a Pentium. These guys were designing nuclear missile guidance packages using processors that had serial ALU's for God's sake, it could only do one bit at a time of logic or math operations.

Some of the coolest stuff I've worked on was really classified and I saw the "secret bits" of it hit the COTS market about 15 years after the original design was implemented. It's still new, and some of it didn't make it to the civilian implementation, but I've seen writeups and photos that were quite accurate. 15 years is a lot faster than 44, and from my experience, that's about right. Somewhere between 10 and 15 years, 'someone' in the civilian world will 'discover' the technology. In this case, a company in Israel 'invented' the module we did. Hell, they even 'invented' the plastic molds we were using, they've still got the same part marks and sprues.

Ted talks a good game, but I've rarely seen anything he has to say that is totally accurate, and a lot of it is just Emily Litella spew. Just say "never mind!", Ted.

[edit on 3-2-2007 by Tom Bedlam]

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