How far are we, really, from the day when they'll stamp an RFID tattoo on your ankle/hand/toungue at birth with your category 5 PKI certificate encrypted on it that serves as your birth certificate, payment card, room key, drivers license and Internet login?
Simon and I had a short conversation about the threat posed by e-tags to privacy–RFID tags that are put on product by manufacturers/retailers to track them through the supply chain, and could concievably be used well after the sale to track the habits of customers under certain circumstances. In theory, the unique id's on products could be linked to the people who bought them–so, for example, a retailer (or someone higher up the intelligence-gathering food chain) would be able in theory to link back to information about the buyer.
RFID is a very powerful tool. I mentioned to Simon that one shoe maker I know is considering RFID as a way to stop counterfeiting of its brands by its offshore manufacturer: send only enough RFID chips for your order, and track them going in and out of the manufacturer; customs agents, company investigators and retailers would be able to tell if product was legitimte based on the signal returned from the shoes without having to break open the shipping boxes (and, if not, they would be guaranteed to be knockoffs). Right now, the shoes require physical inspection to determine if they're frauds.
So, what if the RFID chip was integrated into the shoe? What if, when you bought the shoe, the POS system at the store matched your credit card number with the shoe's RFID?
It's not as far from wearing the swoosh to wearing the mark of the Beast as you thought, is it?