Sunday, September 12, 2010

Privacy concerns grow with the use of RFID tags

Hand with planned insertion point for Verichip...Image via Wikipediahttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/06/BUCE1F8C1G.DTL
Be sure to see the rest of this story at the link above.

Last month, a three-day summer camp in Israel brought Facebook to the real world. Using bracelets equipped with radio-frequency identification tags and programmed with their Facebook log-ins, teenagers could "Like" objects and activities by holding their arms close to readers throughout the camp.
RFID tags - miniature chips that use radio waves to exchange data with reading devices - have been around since World War II, but with production costs dropping and applications sprouting at an unprecedented level, the industry believes the technology's time is now.
But while businesses see RFID as a way to obtain valuable information about their products' whereabouts, critics worry that the expansion of this technology might peel away yet another layer of privacy.
An RFID tag can be small enough to be fitted to an ant's back and often use little to no energy, activating only when they are close to a reader. They have been used for years to keep track of livestock, authenticate ID badges, manage inventories or pay bridge and highway tolls.
But as the technology has become more affordable, it is being used in new applications and areas of innovation, said Victor Vega, marketing director at Morgan Hill RFID firm Alien Technology.
Amusement parks have begun using them to help lost children get back to their parents; friends and relatives of marathon runners wearing RFID-equipped bracelets can follow their progress in a race; pharmaceutical companies are using them to detect counterfeits; and "smart cups" are using the technology to keep track of free refills, Vega said.
With costs as low as 5 to 7 cents per chip, IBISWorld industry analyst Casey Thormahlen said, RFID technology has really boomed in the last five years, and he expects the trend to continue in the next five.
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