Reader Question: In-Car RFID Readers?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Steve asks: I have a friend who works in a spook agency. He told me the 2020 cars all have satellite antennas mostly in the front windshields. Two small wires running around the circumference. Very difficult to see due to size and possibly under the ceramic edging on front windshields. He claims this antenna, which also acts as an AM radio antenna, enters the vehicle from the bottom center of the windshield. From there the wires enter a circuit board in the vehicle. I was also told that in addition to the above, the 2021 models have RFID readers for front and back seat passengers. He advised me to put my credit cards, driver license, anything with a chip into a Faraday enclosure which I did. Found a stainless wallet, cheaply made, on Amazon for six bucks. Need rubber bands to keep the thing closed but who cares. Any thoughts on that?

My reply: My 1976 Pontiac Trans-Am has the antenna (FM & AM) embedded in the windshield; this was common practice in the ’70s because it eliminated the physical mast antenna, which looked awkward and was also easily damaged by cretins. But reception was poor.

I think most if not all modern cars come with a “shark fin” antenna – which looks just like that. It’s small, body colored – and less vulnerable to being damaged by cretins. It also serves as the receiver – and sender – for satellite communications, e.g., the car’s GPS and concierge systems such as OnStar. So, the effect is what your friend describes. Modern cars can be tracked in real-time and probably controlled in real-time, too.

I am unaware of any additional antenna embedded in the vehicle though there is a scannable code incorporated with the VIN plate or similarly located.

As far as RFID readers:  I have no specific knowledge of this but would not be surprised. Nothing surprises me any more. I do know that almost all cars have built-in microphones and that these are tied in to the GPS and thus the car has the capability to listen in to conversations in the car. I also know for a fact that some new cars (e.g., Subarus) have facial recognition systems built in. And that others mine data through the the “infotainment” systems.

It’s all very creepy because it’s all stuff you can’t opt out of – because it’s standard equipment in most new cars and there’s no obvious “off” switch. I’d be okay with this stuff if it were above-board and optional. That’s my attitude toward saaaaaaaaaaaaafety equipment such as air bags, too. Those who want these things ought to be able to buy them – it’s a free country. Except we’re all forced to buy them – which shows it’s not a free country anymore.

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