Identification and Biometrics Essay

Identification and Biometrics

            This article gives a detailed description of a technology that is placed under the skin of an individual - Identification and Biometrics Essay introduction. It carries the personal information of that particular individual and along with this; it emits radioactive signals that assist in identifying an individual. This technology is termed as radio frequency identification chip. This paper discusses the problems, abuses, guidelines and biometrics associated to this chip.

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Radio Frequency Identification Chip

            Radio frequency identification chip is a method in which the information is automatically identified. This is done through the process of storing and later retrieving the data by the use of devices termed as RFID transponders or tags. This particular technology requires the support and coordination of an RFID reader or either an RFID tag.

            Talking about RFID tag, it is a device that is inserted or applied into humans, animals or even a product. This is done so as to track the person or animal by the assistance of radioactive waves. There are a few tags that can be read from a large distance that is beyond human sight.

            There are two kinds of RFID tags. They have been categorized on the basis of their performance. RFID tags can be either active or passive. The difference between the two types of RFID’s is that the former contains battery while the latter lacks it. The active RFID’s are considered to perform better due to obvious reasons.  RFID tags generally comprise of two parts. One part is the integrated circuit. Its purpose is to store, process information. It performs the function of modulation and demodulation of the radioactive waves. The second part consists of an antenna. This antenna is used to receive and broadcast the various radioactive waves.

            This device was first invented by Leon Theremin in the year 1946. He had invented this device for the Soviet Union. Through this technology, the radio waves were retransmitted along with the audio information. The sound waves vibrated the diaphragm of this device, as a result of this the shape of the resonator was altered and this in turn adjusted to the frequency of the radio waves. Although this device was invented way before the RFID, and was very passive as compared to the modern technology, yet it is considered as predecessor to the modern RFID. The technology used in RFID has been persistent since the era of 1920.

            Another technology similar to this was invented in the United Kingdom in the year of 1939. This was termed as the IFF Transponder. It was used by the allies in the World War II on regular basis. It was however used to identify whether a particular aircraft belonged to a friend or a foe. These devices are still used by the most advanced and powered aircrafts. (Vacca, 2007)

Current Use of the Chip

            There are many uses and advantages of RFID chip. One of the most recently discovered advantages of the RFID chip is that it does not have to be necessarily placed physically. It can be tagged and the devices that have been tagged can be read from a considerable distance and it can identify several products or items at one time. For instance if a shopping cart has been tagged with this device, it is not necessary for the customer to get each and every item checked. He can easily pass through the aisle and all the items will be tallied simultaneously.

            There are a number of current uses of this device and to understand its use in everyday life, 8 more uses of this technology have been described below:

Hospital Patient Identification:

            The staff of the hospital has been equipped with the facility of the RFID technology. They have been provided with the PDAs that will assist them in reading the tags of the RFID that are attached to the wrist of the patient. The tags are fitted into the respective wrist bands. Identifiers are linked to these tags which in turn are connected to the patient’s records. This enables the nurses and the doctors to keep a check on the medication, diet etc of the patient. These records contain both the medical charts as well as the photograph of the patient so that clerical errors conducted by the humans can be prevented. Patient’s routine for any surgery will also benefit from this technology since their surgery schedules will be updated automatically without there being any delay.

Household Appliance Monitoring:

            RFID’s can also be used to avoid overflowing of the toilet. Recent technologies have come up with a new system known as the H2Orb. This system detects whenever there is am leakage in the toilet. It is powered by the RFID. An alarm has been installed in this system which rings off or can even shut down the supply of water.

Monitor Orthopedic Implants:

            Surgeons use the RFID tag system to analyze the functioning of the implanted orthopedic device and it is even used to assess the recovery of the surrounding tissues. It can also be used to boost any recovery related to surgeries.

Schools and Universities:

            Several schools and universities are making use of the RFID chips by attaching them to the backpack, clothing and ID cards of the students. This is helpful in maintaining a check and balance system on the unauthorized entry of a stranger in the school premises and also to keep a check on the check in and check out of the students. This system was initiated in September 2008.

Social Retailing:

            Whenever a customer enters a trial room, the mirror shows his reflection as well as of the apparel that is worn by him at that particular time. It also displays the dresses worn by celebrities who are on display. A webcam has also been set up so as to entertain people from different parts of the world. This entire scenario creates a link between the customers inside the store with his social network. The technology that is associated with this entire process is the RFID chip. It is indeed very useful in creating a bridge between the two concerned parties.


            The technology of Radio Frequency Identification Chip is also used in the museums. This happens as soon as the visitor enters the museum. A Radio Frequency tag is provided to him who is hung around his neck or worn around the wrist. This system enables the visitor to have a look at the things; take pictures which can be later collected from the gift shop and also receive information about the displayed exhibit. Later on they can visit the website on which information like the date on which the museum was visited, photographs and the exhibited items of the museum can be viewed.


            The technology of radio frequency chip is also being used in the libraries. Instead of using the typical barcodes on the library books, CD’s and DVD’s, RFID tags are now being used. The RFID tag contains the entire information of the book as well as the material it contains so that there is no need to point to an altogether separate database. (Golio, 2001)

Potential Problems and Abuses

            There are no doubt a number of uses of the RFID chip, however there are also few problems associated with this technology.

            One of the most persistent and worth mentioning problem is related to the health issue. It can pose serious threat and risk to the human health once installed. This includes the reaction of tissues to this device; the reaction is most likely to be adverse. Electrical danger as well as the interference of electromagnetic waves is also a serious problem linked with this technology.

            Another common issue is the problem of theft of an individual’s identity. It is often said that having an RFID installed is almost equal to having the Social Security Card on the sleeve all the time. This is so far the most serious and consistent problem faced by people all over; the issue of privacy maintenance. The RFID chips can be implanted anywhere, be it clothes or skin. This technology is a device that receives the radioactive frequencies and therefore enables individuals in a particular range to assess the information that is being broadcasted. RFID chips are also being installed in the credit cards as well as in the manufactured goods. These goods are sold to the general public.

            Since these chips are now being placed in the everyday products, it is predictable that various organizations as well as corporations will have unwanted access to the personal information to the citizens. These products may vary and include general products as well as the financial records. According to the reports and researches, people are discouraging the use of RFID device since it gives them a sense of being intruded or tracked all the time. It is also because of the history that is linked with it. It was previously used in animals as well as various products. This makes the individuals feel degraded and unsafe. They believe that since this device was previously used in animals and merchandise, it is probably unethical to implant it in humans since it replaces their humanity and in return gives them a radioactive code.

            According to a report of Ars Techica, there is an RFID buffer overflow bug. This device can infect the terminal of the airport database baggage and the passport databases. This is done so as to attain confidential information related to the passport holder.

            Similarly it is also found that most of the manufactured products are equipped with the RFID chips without the customers’ awareness. This is also done without the consent of the seller. This leads to the unauthorized collection of the information of the customer. The customers may also suffer from the inconvenience and danger of transmission of their most personal information. There is also a possibility that that particular information might get stolen. (Altmann, 2006)

            There are various religions that detest the use of any such devices that require penetration of an individual’s body, even if it is through the surgery or implantation of any device.

            Several organizations made attempts to make passports safe by inserting RFID chips in them. According to a report, one incident reports that the encryption in one of the passports was broken in a time period of 48 hours. Since then people have started hesitating to use the passports that have RFID implanted in them. After that incident, the data of a number of passports was cloned during the time it was shipped back to the owner. Previously, criminals needed to open and then reseal the envelopes containing the passport after extracting the desired information, now it can be done without going through all the hassle. Now this can be done by adding some level of insecurity to the system of the passport.

            People in the United States are growing more and more concerned about its use in humans in spite of the number of benefits it offers. They believe that it is unsafe to get these devices implanted in the human body since it takes away all the privacy and security. (Keenan, 2005)

Proposed Protections to Prevent Technology Abuse

            The threats posed by the RFID technology can be tackled in a number of ways. This includes the introduction of federal and state laws, rules and regulations by the administrations, case or common law. However these rules and regulations and constitutions or laws have not been established up to date.

            There are however a number of protections on self basis that might prevent the loss or transmission of any personal information. Self regulation is one of them.

            In the process of self regulation, new technologies are being introduced to address the issues related to the protection of customer’s information. Under the Gen 2 protocol, a technology was developed that would enable an individual to kill the functioning or working of the radio frequency identification chip. Killing the functionality refers to the permanent nonfunctioning of this device at the time of sale. This technology however is not appreciated by the retailers since they find it easier to refer to the details of the customer as well as of the item at the time that particular item may be replaced. It is very feasible to get access to the desired item if it is tagged with the radio frequency identification chip. However, the challenge that lies in the entire scenario is to develop or establish a method that might provide a balance between the customers’ requirement and the retailers’ feasibility.

            In recent months however, several legislation blueprints have been established. These contain clear and conspicuous guidelines for the consumers and provide them with a choice as to whether they should make use of the radio frequency identification chip or discard it completely.

            There are a number of factors that encourage individuals to use the RFID technology. However there are numerous concerns associated with its use. Among these, the protection of customer’s privacy is the most persistent and publicized. The technological use of the RFID technology is increasing at a very fast rate and the laws and constitutions are unable to address these issues. The changes that are expected may arise from the legislation of the state and the common law rather than the legislation of the federal government or the cases of the constitution.

As compared to the laws and constitutions, personal privacy measures solutions are gaining popularity.  (Lin, 2007)

Guidelines to Use the Radio Frequency Chip and Other Identification Technologies

            Since the use of radio frequency chip is increasing in humans, it is important for the concerned bodies to set certain rules and regulations and propose guidelines so as to make better use of this technology rather than exploiting it.

            There are few retailers that keep their customers unaware that the product they are purchasing has an RFID chip attached to it. No matter how beneficial this is for the retailers, it is equally harmful and hazardous for the customers. Their information is being transmitted without their consent. This activity needs to be regulated and it is important for the government to impose restrictions on the sellers or manufacturers who indulge in any such acts. Customer’s privacy comes first and hence it should be taken care of efficiently. It is obligatory on the retailers to make their customers aware about the chip implanted on the manufactured products.

            Similarly, the use of radio frequency chip is increasing in the field of medicine and surgery. Since this device mainly deals with the emission of radioactive rays, they can be harmful for the patients. The patients should be made aware of the importance as well as the hazardous nature of this device. It should be immediately removed after the patient has been operated. (Webb, 2007)


            By the term biometrics, we mean the psychological or behavioral attitude of an individual used to determine or identify the distinctiveness of an individual. This is categorized into fingerprints, geometry of the hand, face, shaper of the ear, voice etc. All these characteristics are categorized into psychological characteristics. The way a person writes; handwriting and the way of talking of a n individual is categorized into behavioral characteristics.

            The border checking in the state of USA and EU has decided to use inkless fingerprints and recognition of the face to identify a person whereas Saudi Arabia has opted for iris recognition a way to identify an individual.

            After the events of September 2001, USA Patriot Act was passed. It required all the foreigners and travelers to give documents that could be read by the machine, and to activate such a system that can monitor the entry and exits of the travelers that are moving in and out of the county at regular or irregular basis. These steps coaxed other countries to set up this system to in order to ensure security and safety in the country.

            It is suggested that biometrics should improve the quality of life rather than arouse conflicts. Conflict can arise in the form of identity theft, interference in the privacy of an individual etc. To prevent this, certain rules have been set for the biometrics. They are; the entire data of a person must be obtained lawfully and honestly, secondly it should be maintained at a safe place, it should be accurate and should be up dated every now and then. Lastly it should be used only for the stated purpose and it should not be spread illegally. (Vacca, 2007)


Altmann. J. (2006) Military Nanotechnology. Taylor and Francis.

Golio. M. J. (2001) The RF and Microwave Handbook. CRC Press.

Keenan. M.K. (2005) Invasion of Privacy. ABC-CLIO

Lin. P. (2007) Nanoethics. Wiley Interscience.

Vacca. R. J. (2007) Biometric Technologies and Verification Systems. Butterworth-Heinemann

Vacca. R. J. (2007) Biometric Technologies and Verification Systems. Butterworth-Heinemann

Webb. M. (2007) Illusions of Security. City Light Books.


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