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Cops turn Download Festival into an ORWELLIAN SPY PARADISE

Face recog tech, RFID tracking – gotta love Donington Park

Access denied – you ain't got your RFID dogtag, man

In addition to police surveillance, Download Festival will be "the first major UK festival to use RFID technology for full cashless payment and access control".

Download's "customers" will be issued with an RFID festival wristband on arrival which will determine what areas of Donington Park they have access to, and will also function as an electronic payment system, linked to specifically set-up customer accounts through which "customers" will have to pay for food, drinks and merchandise.

"Every single person on site, including staff, children, RIP and VIP customers will need a dog tag to get around the festival," according to the FAQ section of the site. "The only way to get around the festival and pay for stuff is to use this system. It’s not possible to opt out of this."

Download's privacy policy acknowledged that it will collect your information through the use of the cashless payment wristbands and will, typically, share that information with other companies, who will collaborate to establish your interests, purchases and household type to aid in profiling you for advertising purposes.

The FAQ also asked whether your "movement[s] can be tracked with RFID technology?" "No, it can't" cometh the answer: "Your dog tag will not be equipped with GPS technology and therefore it will be impossible to track your movements."

This is quite a cynical response which relies upon a very specific definition of what constitutes the tracking of movements. While correctly distinguished from a positioning system, RFID "control access" functions allow a database operator to locate the wrist-bound devices by logging its passage into each access-controlled area.

Another statement in the FAQs stated: "All payments on the website are encrypted and use 3D secure technology. Each RFID chip is encrypted and unique to you".

This does not mean that the RFIDs themselves use encryption. The Register understands that this is possible, but will not be commercially available until 2015 Q3.

Talking to The Register, Raj Samani, chief technology officer at Intel Security, said:

There is a risk that RFID tags could be used for the profiling and/or tracking of individuals because identifiers could be used to re-identify a particular individual.

It is important for consumers to be made aware of the policy, and give their consent for the tags to be made operational.

Without appropriate consent, retailers who pass RFID tags to customers without automatically deactivating or removing them may enable this risk of RFID tags being used for tracking individuals.

Download and YouChip had not commented on this story at time of publication. We will update it if and when we receive a response from either of them. ®

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