May 04, 2006

Spychips: Laying the Ground for Pervasive Computer Surveillance

Katherine Albrecht from CASPIAN, or Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, spoke on the potential negative privacy and security impact of RFID tagging at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 conference. Albrecht has written Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID, and there is a Spychips website.

Good info on RFID technology. Companies are experimenting with RFID tags in clothing and in indvidual items that you might buy. The problem is many of these initiatives are secret and consumers are not being told what the technology does.

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation represented the other side of the debate. He said that the debate is all about whether we are for progress and optimism or not. New technology always creates fear. America has always made the choice for excitement and going forward. He did agree that secret tagging should be illegal, but overall felt tagging had many benefits.

Yet concerns remain. Some business models are very invasive. Some companies are placing RFID tags into clothing labels and into shoes. One plan wants to plant RFID readers in cell phones so that when we are walking down the street and see someone wearing something we like, we can scan them and find out where the item is sold. Uibiquitous readers are planned so that the moment you walk into a store, a doorway reader can scan a tagged customer loyalty card and know your complete purchase history.

I see the benefits of RFID, however I'm certainly going to check out the security and privacy concerns.

Posted by Paul at May 4, 2006 07:52 AM