posted on May, 16 2010 @ 12:34 PM
Here's what I sent to Fox, they probably won't post it: (part 1)
Maybe what needs to be Googled is a technical consultant prior to putting something this uninformed on Fox's website. I thought at first it was op-ed
or a long 'letter to the editor', but it's in the science and tech section. A bit surprising, really, given your background and credentials.
I find it amusing that you think that an implanted RFID device is directly comparable to an externally fixed animal radio tagging device. Nothing
could be farther from the truth.
To begin with, implanted RFID tags do NOT emit a radio signal "anywhere, anytime!". They never emit an actual radio signal at all. Implanted tags
are what are known as "h-field" or "near-field" devices. They do not interact with propagating radio waves. They are powered by, and signal by,
modulated magnetic fields coming from an interrogator. The magnetic field from the interrogator device is time-varying at a 'radio frequency', but
it is not a radio wave. The implant turns some of the energy in this h-field into power to run the circuit - the signaling is accomplished by throwing
a load onto and off of the receive coil in the implant. It's more akin to signaling to someone pushing your car by tapping the brakes - the implant
doesn't actually "transmit" a signal so much as it just becomes more or less of a drain on the reader.
Near-field tags, like the Verichip, have a few technical benefits. Mainly, in close proximity to the interrogator, you can extract enough power to run
more sophisticated circuits, like a microprocessor. That's why near-field devices are used in ePassports, RFID credit cards and similar devices.
Another benefit is that, since it is NOT a radio wave, there is an insignificant path loss involved in signaling through your flesh, which, being full
of conductive electrolytes, pretty much absorbs radio waves at a ruinous rate. And for technical reasons, the pickup coil can be quite tiny, again,
because it's NOT radio.
Practically speaking, pretty much the ONLY type of RFID that will work as an implant is a near-field part. However, near-field parts have other
limits. For starters, the power density from the interrogator - that's the reader that's providing the power to the implant - falls off as the sixth
power of the distance. As you move the reader away from the implant, the fall-off in power is catastrophic. The return signal is also dropping at the
same rate. If you try to just slam more power into the interrogator's drive to compensate, you end up with a horrible signal-to-noise ratio issue -
after all, the implant is doing nothing more than tossing a tiny load onto and off of the drive, and with more power used to compensate for distance,
you end up looking for a tiny tiny needle of signal in a huge haystack of drive output. Even using digital signal processing to add hundreds of
re-reads together, and with several Amps of drive, you can't read an h-field tag more than a few feet away.
On top of that, since it's a near field part, even the NSA couldn't read it in the far field, even if you ignore all the other issues, which are
nearly insurmountable in themselves. The far field/near field boundary is set by the frequency the part runs at, and it's typically less than 30
feet. Past that, and physics intervenes.
The sorts of RFID tags that can be read at a distance are e-field, or radio tags. That would include things like your toll pass or the "PASS card",
not to be confused with ePassport. E-field tags don't lend themselves to implantation, at all. The main reasons are that your body is pretty
conductive, and causes a big impedance step, and dissipates radio waves as heat, and because e-field tags require large antennas compared to h-field
tags. Passive e-field devices power themselves from the tiny bit of power available from the radio wave sent out by the interrogator. The power
available is quite small, so that most e-field tags are nothing more than serial number devices. In addition, passive e-field tags also don't
"transmit radio waves" - they signal by changing their reflectivity. It's easiest to envision it as someone shining a flashlight at you, and you
signaling back to them by tilting a mirror back and forth in the beam. Since they're passively reflecting the incoming radio wave, they're subject
to a fourth-power of the distance loss. So while you can interrogate an e-field part at a bigger distance than an h-field part, they're limited to
simple tasks and you can't do it from an unlimited distance - the return signal falls off too quickly. So at a limit, you might manage it from 100
feet away, but you can forget, say, a mile.
The signal loss, impedance mismatches and band-aid to credit-card sized antenna structures pretty much preclude using e-field parts in people.
In summary, RFID does NOT "transmit a radio signal all the time". The type of RFID that can be used in vivo is h-field, and it can't be read at a
significant distance. E-field types that can be read at a distance aren't useful as an implant. Even passive e-field tags can't be read at large
distances (more than a few dozen feet).
Your comments on "tracking" seem to blur the line between when you use it in the sense of an active animal tag, with perhaps some shady "NSA
agent" lurking in the alley with a rotating antenna atop an unmarked van, intent on following your every move, and "tracking" in the sense of
logging your whereabouts when you use a credit card.
The first can't happen with an implant. Period. The second happens anyway, unless you're Ted Kaczynski.
Your example of tracking crates, for instance - a crate would typically be fitted with an e-field device. You cannot be. So you can't equate the two.
Fido can be identified by his implant, if you catch him, but he can't be tracked by it.
I have an h-field tag in my wallet and on my keychain to get into work. It "tracks" me by logging when I wave it over the reader (or do the
butt-slam on it with my wallet if my hands are full), but it can't "track" me inside the building on some sort of evil radar screen - being
h-field, you can't read it at a distance. If we had door-frame interrogators built into the doors, then yes, you could tell where I had gone during
the day. I've worked in places that did that - and for them it was a reasonable precaution.
ePassports, RealID, and drivers' licenses with embedded RFID are h-field parts. They have to be, to get enough power to run the microprocessor inside
them. And as such, you can't be "tracked" by them, in the sense of someone in the unmarked van. And, no, should you think to mention it, Chris
Paget didn't read passports. He read PASS cards, which are e-field parts, and are designed to be read at a distance like a toll pass.
Looking at Datakey, MicroChips and Positive ID, none of the devices I see would lend themselves to "tracking everyone, all the time." Being h-field
devices, where they actually seem to be applicable for implantation at all (I find your inclusion of Datakey to be puzzling), they are not
"trackable" per se. Except in the credit card sense - if you pass through a reader, or wave one over your implant, then yes. But by the shady guy in
the van, or some evil hand at a console in your local cell tower, or over GWEN or whatnot, no.
Your issue at the end of the article with the verichip device - it's purely a serial number. It contains no medical information per se. If I were to
skim it, and that would require me to essentially bump into you to get close enough, then what I would get would be a serial number. I'd have to also
have access to the medical database in order to get more info. If I had that access, I could simply start dumping the info anyway, it'll contain your
name and address, and I wouldn't need to get your number to do it.