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We have implanted RFID inside inmate body for tracking purposes, ID the pooches, etc. My question is in near future where all newborns are required by law to be tagged using RFID is it possible to use them as weapon to terminate the target remotely via radiowave signal or perhaps through WiFi? Disregard ethical and moral issues how can we prevent unauthorized hacking of these implants? It would be better if such device can deliver non-lethal but high electricity to incapacitate the target on command if it is viable. Also how to design it to be extremely difficult and tedious to be removed illegally?

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  • $\begingroup$ Apart from the discussions from the comments below, RFID can't be used without some device closed to the intended target. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Aug 5 '15 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin that's is not exactly true. To read the 'answer' you need to be relatively close, to set off the 'response' not so much. Just need the right 'code' to ping the tag. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @bowlturner, I did not mean that you have to be in contact, but I couldn't from my sofa trigger yours. At least not without some form of relay... $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Aug 5 '15 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ @bilbo_pingouin ah, true $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 20:49
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Short answer: No.

Longer answer: RFID tags are basically like a barcode that can be read with radio waves. They are an ID tag. That's literally the name: "radio frequency identification." RFID tags are already implanted in living things...particularly pets. The 'Microchip' that gets implanted in a pet, as a means of identification? Yeah...that is commonly an RFID tag. You can read information off of them, and (in some versions) write information to them. Something implanted in a person for identification purposes would be designed expressly to NOT be changeable, so that their ID couldn't be tampered with.

It's not like you have a computer in your arm or something, it's just an ID tag. And in the most likely case where the tags are read only, you can't even change the information stored on them because it is hardwired.

The way a modern RFID tag works is that when you hit it with a radio signal, it slightly modulates that signal in a way that represents the data stored on it. The reader detects these modulations, and interprets them. That's it.

Now, could you hit someone with enough energy to make the chip superheat and damage surrounding tissue? Sure! But that same amount of energy would probably harm the target directly, and that'd be a much more efficient use of resources.

EDIT: The only way this would work is if you had something else implanted. A bomb, an electrical weapon, whatever...and it was triggered by a specific transmission frequency to a logic circuit implanted in the skin that would trigger the device. But....you aren't weaponizing RFID...you are using RFID as a communication method, that could more efficiently be triggered by normal radio transmissions. Just to be clear, this system doesn't need to be anything advanced or large. It could be very simple...little more than a few transistors and a tiny battery

But, an RFID tag, by itself, cannot kill a person. It would need to be part of a system. And, in that case, there are more efficient ways of transmitting a kill-signal than RFID tags.

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  • $\begingroup$ So there no room to squeeze in a small dose of cyanide and a valve? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 5 '15 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ RFID tags are passive. They don't do anything except echo back when called by a reader. They don't detect that they are being read, and then do something. The sum total of their life is this. Wait..... Reader calls for information Deliver information Wait...... That's it, they aren't computers, they just echo when called. $\endgroup$ – guildsbounty Aug 5 '15 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ actually there are both active and passive RFID tags. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ active just means it constantly transmits its data, powered by a battery. passive means it only transmits its data when asked (and powered by an ambient radio field). It doesn't imply that the RFID tag has the ability to process information given to it and do anything...it just stores it and transmits it. If you want something to do anything with data besides hold it, it must have a means of processing. RFID tags do not have such a thing. It's like plugging a flash drive into a monitor, with no computer attached, and expecting something to happen. $\endgroup$ – guildsbounty Aug 5 '15 at 20:07
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RFID tags are small. Often many get their power from the 'reading' equipment. So I see two small possibilities. One, it holds a one time dose of a chemical that can kill/disable host. The other is having it located very strategically so that a very small electric shock could trigger a crippling current. This would likely be in the neck somewhere near the spine. likely with a wire into the spinal column.

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  • $\begingroup$ 😀 I'm pleased to know this answer. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 5 '15 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ This is incorrect. In order for a toxin or electric shock to be administered, the RFID tag would need to do something with a signal it was given. RFID tags are not capable of that. If you designed it so that it went off when it got power, walking past a radio tower would be lethal. In order to take 'data' and do something with it, you have to have a processor. With RFID tags, you are basically taking a sheet of paper and writing 'kill someone' on it, then expecting it to do so. It doesn't have a clue what you just wrote on it, you just put information on it that someone else can read later. $\endgroup$ – guildsbounty Aug 5 '15 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ They have the ability to be reprogrammed. no reason for there not to be different circuits for different requests. I'm pretty sure having two different 'responses' would be more than possible. Granted it would need to be a bit more work, and maybe not be a true RFID tag but I'm betting it could work. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ @guildsbounty Actually there are two types of RFID, passive and active. An active RFID has a battery and low power electronics, which could be used for either of the methods described here. However, the electric shock would almost certainly not cripple someone unless it was maintained, difficult to do with such a small energy source. The dose of poison is entirely feasible. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Aug 5 '15 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @guildsbounty Honestly the hardware is not as complex as you're making it out to be. It's an ASIC, not a microprocessor. There is a world of difference. If the RFID can store data then simple logic gates can AND some of the stored bytes with a predefined key. If the electrical output of that AND is a logical 1, then the kill switch can be activated. I see you're a software person, so you want to see all electronics in that way, but this requires no software. This is not a processor, it's a few dozen transistors. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Aug 5 '15 at 20:55
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The 1992 film Fortress has a similar idea. All inmates in this ultra-high-tech private prison are forced to ingest a device called an "intestinator" that is equal parts tracking device, pain-compliance tool and anti-escape measure. Various minor offenses trigger pain, such as crossing a yellow "warning" line within the prison or ticking off prison staff. Serious offenses such as crossing a red line or attacking a guard trigger the device to detonate with fatal effects.

Chemical explosives typically have a maximum density, but you could think up a variation of your RFID capsule implanted in the brain stem. Even a small explosive charge triggered by an encrypted radio signal would damage the stem, cutting off impulses for unconscious muscle actions such as breathing and heartbeat.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm so sorry that you actually suffered through that movie. I feel your pain and I sympathize $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Mar 28 '17 at 14:12

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