EDSA TafficAs I was driving yesterday towards Makati, I was listening to my favorite radio program, “Dos por Dos” hosted by Anthony Taberna and Jerry Baja over at DZMM. Their guest, LTO Chief Bert Suansing announced that starting next year, the Land Transportation Office (LTO), an agency who regulates the registration of vehicles, will implement the installation of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips on all vehicle registrations and renewals, inlcuding all motorbikes.

As an IT person, I find this a good news and an awesome development. LTO has been doing its best in updating its systems, especially on getting new or renewing driver’s licenses. It used to be a whole day affair of queuing at LTO offices, but now, you can renew and get your driver’s license for less than an hour.

According to the LTO, there are a total of 5.5 million vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, etc.) currently registered in the Philippines (a rather low count in my opinion, if you include those dilapidated trucks and buses that are still running). There are also 2 million registered motorbikes. The RFID system will facilitate easy processing of these vehicles, during registration, and in times of emergency such as accidents. It will also allow traffic police to easily identify a vehicle during hot pursuits, apprehensions and during flagging for violations. It may also a deterrent to carnapping, a problem that still haunts major cities in Metro Manila. According to statistics from the police, there are on the average 2 cars stolen in Metro Manila everyday. Quezon City in northern Metro Manila still holds the title of “Carnapping” Capital of the Philippines.

RFID Chip courtesy of WIKIPEDIAHowever, there are things to be seriously considered when installing and implementing RFID chips on vehicles. The RFID, is now commonly used in many ways from Emplyoee IDs, door security, equipment tagging, animal tagging, highway electronic passes, to carpark entry and in vehicle security systems. RFID chips/tags stores information and just like any other device, is prone to manipulation and hacking.

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Although with the advent of more secured devices like the 128-bit secured chips, some RFID chip cloners may still be able to hack into it. Every gadget geek may still easily get the information or worse, take control of the device. Therefore, LTO should not bid on RFID devices that do not provide better security. A secured RFID chip may cost more, but it is extremely necessary. LTO also disclosed that the RFID chip may cost about Php200.00. I hope this is the secured RFID chip type, else we all head up into a major national disaster.

RFID TAG courtesy of WIKIPEDIABut, still, some few important questions remain – will it not be used by some corrupt LTO officials, crook traffic officers and other people who have direct access to the RFID database and information. I believe the RFID will contain some sensitive information that a person wouldn’t want to be known by any other person who may have bad intentions or motives. The RFID will replace the Car Registration certificate that every Filipino driver is required to bring along every time he uses his vehicle. And this document holds some sensitive information.

What type of information should be included in the RFID chip aside from the Car Registration number, vehicle plate number, chassis number, make and model, color and type? To what extent of the owner information should be embedded in the chip?

I hope these questions will be answered by the LTO in the coming days.

What do you think of this new plan from the LTO? Will this be good or bad for Filipinos?