More RFID evilness

By | August 8, 2003

Do you remember previous stories about RFID tags – tiny tags that manufacturers and retailerswant to embed in pretty much everything that is sold in the world? These tags can instantly identify an individual product; for example, they can identify each pair of jeans in a case of 100.

Retailers and manufacturers love the idea of RFID tags. RFID tags would allow retailers and manufacturers to streamline inventory processing. Instead of having to have multiple employees counting every single product, one sensor could scan a palette of hundreds or thousands of products, giving an exact count.

The problem with RFID tags is their potential for abuse. An RFID stays embedded in the product after it is sold. It would be relatively easy for someone with an RFID scanner to scan a person’s belongings, or to track a person. Most RFID tests are being cancelled because of consumer pressure; consumers do not want their every purchase to be identifiable.

RFID proponents, however, are not giving up. They’ve actually come up with a new way to try and get consumers to accept RFID tags: they are now claiming that RFID will stop terrorist attacks!

The general idea is that, if they can convince Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge that RFID tags can help secure the food chain here in America, then consumers will forget about their privacy concerns and say, “Well, if it protects us from terrorists, then it must be okay.”

I don’t know what the worst part of this story is. Is it the fact that the RFID consortium obviously considers the American public ignorant sheep? Is it that the RFID consortium is pervertedly trying to use American fear of terrorism for their own benefit? Is it that these corporations (which includes Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Sara Lee, Kellogg, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Pfizer) couldn’t give a crap about what consumers want, and instead are pursing RFID simply to reduce their costs? Is it that our current pro-corporation, pro-terrorism-scares administration probably will back the RFID consortium?

I try and keep profanity to a minimum on this blog, but I have to say that this whole situation is pretty fucked up.

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