Controversial RFID technology identifies products according to a radio frequency signature. It is so small and cheap it may even be embedded into currency. RFID radio transponders (receiver and sender combined) get their electricity by induction of a magnetic field.
RFID tags are very small chips containing a tiny antennae, and can be fixed to physical items. A number of major retailers are interested in using them as a high-tech replacement for barcodes, as they offer the possibility of improved stock control -- allowing a company to automatically count how many items it has in inventory, and even knowing exactly who is buying what.
It may be harder to get RFID data than to swipe the barcode.
There are potential benefits to consumers; but potential risks to privacy. "an individual wouldn't know that their clothing was broadcasting information, possibly to a hidden reader.... RFID's electronic product code would theoretically allow every object in the world to be given a unique ID number."
"This in turn opens up the possibility of mass surveillance, with people being tagged, monitored and profiled without their knowledge and consent through hidden RFID chips." This goes well beyond the user data we would need to deliver a detailed Consumerium buying signal to individual buying criteria. It is not clear whether such a potentially intrusive technology is inherently dangerous technology or whether it could play a role in a more healthy signal infrastructure. Consumerium Governance Organization is going to have to make difficult decisions regarding this and related questions.
There have been reports of tests of RFID chips that function only at a very close range (20-30cm) thus reducing the risks of remote survaillance.
There is also research into selectively blocking reading RFID information in the following manner: Chips can be configured to have practically any identity in the address space, thus making the tag seemingly look like any one of the possible tags.
- NFC or Near Field Communication for an alternative to RFID for no-hassle Product identification
- http://news.zdnet.co.uk/hardware/chips/0,39020354,2090580,00.htm - Money plans
- Civil liberties groups demand halt to RFID
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