Soctech seminar, Spring 2007

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Spring 2007: Case study of ORCA/Husky cards


CSE Students: SLN 11994 or CSE 590T
Non-CSE Students: SLN 11998 or CSE 590X (graded)

Time: Tuesday 12:30-13:20

Place: Paul Allen Center Room 303

Notes: Courses SLN 11994 and SLN 11998 are identical. If you are a CSE student, sign up for the CSE course. If you are a non-CSE student, sign up for the non-CSE course. Email travis (at if you need an add code.

Sign up for the mailing list at if you are not yet on it!


See our Orca Website for information about our continued activities regarding ORCA.


This quarter, we will explore a specific local issue (ORCA/Husky cards) as a concrete aspect of the more general issue of RFID technology so that we might inform the design, implementation, and regulation of a technology which will likely directly affect all of us in the near future. By the end of the quarter, we would like to produce a set of specific and reasonably implementable recommendations for the University of Washington and Seattle transportation agencies that would improve the privacy, efficacy and public confidence in ORCA/Husky cards.


In the past few years there has been excitement, fear, and controversy about the transformative potential of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as it gets more and more feasible to deploy widely. In a previous seminar, we explored the broader legal and sociopolitical implications of RFID, discussing privacy, security, and surveillance through conversations with invited RFID experts and enthusiasts each week. We have an ongoing whitepaper based on our discussions during that quarter.

During the Spring quarter we are going to try something different: focus on a single, about-to-be-deployed technology in the Seattle region, specifically the ORCA card and its integration with the UW Husky card. The ORCA card (One Regional Card for All) is a collaboration between Seattle transportation agencies that will establish a single, RFID-enabled transportation option for public transportation. The test run of the card finished in late 2006 and the ORCA card is now set to be deployed in early 2008. The University is working with the ORCA team to embed ORCA capability into the new Husky card, as well as establishing a quick pay option for the card with local businesses.

By focusing on an issue close to home we will have the opportunity to discuss identity management, security, and surveillance issues with administrators from the UW and the local government. While these stakeholders have a great influence over the impact of technology on society, we, as academics, do not typically get the opportunity to interact with them. Moreover, because the ORCA/Husky card is still in its formative stages, our conversations with stakeholders may positively impact the conditions under which the card will be deployed.

Participation in the Fall 2006 soctech seminar is not a prerequisite for this seminar. We will begin the seminar with a technical overview of the capabilities of RFID, the regulatory landscape on which laws will be crafted, and a number of existing RFID deployments. During the following weeks, we will invite a guest from a variety of organizations, including the university administration, Seattle public transportation agencies, law experts, and legislators.

Seminar Organization

The seminar will be discussion-driven, each period led by a small group of seminar participants and/or invited guests. Seminar participants will be expected to generate questions for our guest before seminar, but there won't be pressure to organize a class period.

Contact information: This course is being organized by Evan Welbourne (evan at cs), Colin Dixon (ckd at cs), Karl Koscher (supersat at cs), Jim Sfekas (sfekas at, Yaw Anokwa (yanokwa at cs), and Travis Kriplean (travis at cs).


We'd like to create a whitepaper that could be given to the ORCA, University, and/or legislators based on what we see as acceptable practices for the ORCA deployment. See ORCA whitepaper or Open ORCA Questions

One-page Summaries

A full-length white paper is going to delve into too much detail for most people. Thus, in addition to a whitepaper, we would like a to produce a series of one-page documents which present the ORCA system to specific stakeholders. A list of stakeholders and potential categories for what kinds of information would be included can be found on the ORCA One-Page Summaries page.

Administrative info

Course grading and credit-load policies: Subject to change, but variable credits are available to meet differing levels of participation:

  • Sign up for 1 credit if you plan to attend, do the readings, and participate in discussions.
  • Sign up for 2 credits if you wish to organize a discussion by contacting a guest, coordinate their visit, and explaining why you chose them.
  • Sign up for 3 credits if you wish to be heavily involved in the planning process for the seminar. Contact the course organizers in advance if you plan to take this course for 3 credits.

Course Topics

Note: subject to change as we find guest speakers

27 March RFID History, Basic Technical Description and Overview of Applications -- Slides (ppt)

03 April ORCA and Husky Card overview — Slides (ppt)

10 April Christina Drummond, ACLU on ORCA – Slides (pdf)

17 April ORCA, Discussion

24 April Seminar cancelled

26 April Dan Kaminsky, Hacker perspective on RFID – Slides (ppt)

1 May Steven Shafer, RFID privacy and personal information – Slides (ppt), Informal RFID Privacy Guidelines (doc)

8 May Bill Covington, ORCA and liability, Technical and policy overview, potential privacy threats – Slides (ppt)

15 May ORCA, Kevin Desmond (KC Metro)

22 May ORCA and the Husky Card discussion

29 May ORCA, Discussion

Potential Speakers/Organizations

Steven Shafer, Microsoft Research

A policy for RFID Privacy, addressing personal information in RFID systems.

Christina Drummond, Director of Technology and Liberty Project, ACLU of Washington

Doug Klunder, Privacy Project Director, ACLU of Washington

Bill Covington, UW Law

Kevin Desmond, King County Metro Transit

Dan Kaminsky, IOActive

The Hacker View on RFID

Sound Transit

Community Transit

Project Manager for Husky Card, Husky Card Account & ID Center Manager

Gov't representative of sponsors of Washington's new Electronic Bill of Rights


Privacy and Security in Library RFID : Issues, Practices, and Architectures. PDF

CDT Consumer Privacy Guidelines. [1]

Octopus card implemented in Hong Kong. wikipedia article

Privacy considerations for a Massachusetts RFID transit system PDF