This Country Wants To Track Its Citizens’ Cars With RFID Chips


After the news broke that the Chinese government is “rating” its citizens, there was an understandable outroar at the Big Brother-esque move. However, the Chinese government seems to be taking it all in stride and are taking it one step further. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government are readying a program that will make it possible to track citizens’ cars using RFID chips. The kicker? This program will be mandatory for all new vehicles in 2019.

Image from:  The Seattle Times

Image from: The Seattle Times

The RFID program is put into place by China’s Ministry of Public Security, or more correctly, the ministry’s Traffic Management Research Institute. By installing RFID chips on the windshields of new cars, and reading devices on the side of China’s roads, they also hope to use it to help curb the rise of terrorist attacks in the country.

Government officials claim that this program will be used to study and improve congestion, therefore helping to reduce pollution — a major priority for China’s president Xi Jinping. China’s congestion is almost incomparable, with 5 million cars on the road in Beijing. China is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world for drivers, with the World Health Organization putting traffic deaths at more than 260,000 in 2013.

However, there are some notable downsides to this program. The RFID system used would not be able to locate a car at any given time or location, like with GPS. The relative lack of storage in each chip also means that it is not clear how much information can be stored besides the color of the car and its license plate number. Plus, there is the issue of surveillance and its inevitable security concerns. In light of Facebook’s massive data breach, there are more and more calls to make sure that the millions and millions of Chinese data are protected rather than exploited.

Image from:  MSN

Image from: MSN

James Andrew Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, thinks it’s likely that the RFID system will become another one of these tools that the Chinese government uses to monitor citizens.

“The Chinese government has gone all out to create a real surveillance state. There’s social credit, and facial recognition, and internet and telecom monitoring,” he said. “It’s part of this larger effort to create total information awareness in China for the government.”

This RFID program will be one of the many Chinese surveillance programs already in place. For example, there are programs that recognizes and tracks license plates with security checkpoint cameras. There are also facial recognition programs helped on by cameras and smart glasses. Include in the aforementioned “social credit” system where citizens are rated by their finances, criminal behavior, and other factors and you have a country that is fully controlling and monitoring its citizens through technology.

And to think, it all starts with one small chip in your car.

What do you think about this program? Do you agree with it or disagree? Leave a comment below!