June 13, 2007

Bermuda to track road vehicles with RFID

RFID Journal reports that the Caribbean nation of Bermuda plans to tag registered cars and trucks with RFID transponders to increase road registration compliance and revenues.

The ISO 18000-6B standardized, 915 MHz tags will be embedded in tamper-resistant windscreen stickers, and are made by 3M. The laser readers placed by the side of the road are made by Transcore.

Sabotaging the RFID tag is ineffective because the RFID interrogation is combined with an ANPR system:

If a car arrives at an intersection and no interrogation of an RFID tag can be performed, the system will take a picture of the car's license plate. Using optical character recognition software, the system will read the vehicle's plate numbers and input them into a database so a citation can be automatically issued. The same system will be employed to detect commercial vehicles operating in restricted areas during rush hour without permits.

Bermuda's Transport Control Department expects that all of the island nation's registered cars should be RFID tagged by June 2008. Motorcycles will be exempt from the RFID tagging requirement, though authorities may later decide to being them into the program.

The privacy implications of the mandated RFID transponders are profound. It is very feasible for groups unassociated with Bermuda's Transport Control Department to develop the ability to read the RFID tags and track specific automobiles by their electronic ID. In fact, an older version of this technology was used by a United States intelligence agency during the Cold War to track Soviet attaches whenever they crossed one of a handful of Washington, D.C. bridges and passed outside the 20-mile unrestricted transit limit.

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