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She said that in the interest of fair journalistic practices, I should give her a chance to rebut my review on our site. Albrecht did not take me up on the offer. But I would like to address a key point raised in her article, which is that consumers will not have a choice about whether to accept RFID in the products they buy. First, a little history. You buy a shirt at XYZ store, you pay with a credit card, and the next time you wear that shirt to that store, the retailer interrogates the tag in the shirt, looks up who bought the shirt and identifies you personally.
Using this technology, profiles could be built up over time. It could be used to track your movements throughout the store, and to make personalized advertising pitches to you, based on your buying patterns. Worse, the patent goes on to say the technology could be used to track persons deemed potentially suspicious. To put the IBM patent in perspective, it was filed a full two years before the privacy issue erupted when Benetton announced plans to tag clothes in its Sisley line.
A good way to predict what a company is going to do is to examine what it says it wants to do. This is quite a different tone than the book takes, but the point made in my review is that there is a far better way to predict what companies are going to do than to look at what they were thinking four years ago—and that is to consider how they actually are behaving.
My review pointed out that the book presents no evidence companies have used the tens of millions of RFID tags already carried by people today to infringe on their privacy. Albrecht admits in her rebuttal that companies will back off as soon as their tagging plans become the subject of controversy. So my question, then, is this: why is RFID such a big threat to consumer privacy if companies will back off as soon as a few customers complain about its use in a particular way?
That strikes me as farfetched in the extreme. Even if that were possible—which it obviously is not—companies would also have to find a way to prevent the millions of people who make the tags, sew them into clothing, interrogate the tags as they move through the supply chain and collect and analyze the ill-gotten information from ever spillng the beans anonynmously on a blog or e-mailing photographic evidence to a reporter remember: they, too, are consumers vulnerable to being tracked.
Given that even minor smart shelf tests where no data has been collected on customers have been exposed, its inconceivable how tagging on such an incredibly massive scale could ever remain secret. The authors also point out that RFID interrogators can be hidden, without acknowledging that interrogators are actually much easier to detect than a hidden video camera since readers must emit energy to read a tag.
Any privacy advocates, enterprising journalists or concerned consumers would easily be able to get their hands on such a device and expose retailers surreptitiously gathering data on customers through RFID tags in their clothes or personal items. Of course, it should not be up to consumers to be constantly vigilant about preventing RFID items from being put in the things they buy.
Recent history makes it clear that if a company were to try to sneak RFID tags into its products without telling customers, they would be exposed and suffer bad press. Other companies would then learn the lesson pretty quickly, not wanting to be the next one exposed. While Benetton, in fairness, was not planning to use tags in clothes to track people, it also had no plan for addressing concerns about the potential invasion of privacy the tags presented.
Roberti illogically uses the fact of our past successes preventing RFID abuse to somehow criticize us for alerting the public to further planned abuses. I criticize them for presenting this technology as such an inevitable threat to society that people should reject all its consumer applications—and for not telling them about the many potential benefits RFID offers consumers.
They only give half of the story. It seems odd to me that someone would claim to be acting on behalf of consumers but would not give them the information they need to make an educated decision.
Nevertheless, I continue to believe that as RFID proliferates, consumers will eventually get good information, and consumers are smart enough to make intelligent decisions.
I think most people will understand that they have nothing to fear from RFID because they have the power, not the companies. They can always choose not to shop at stores infringing on their privacy. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below.
But footnote 24 on the following page points out that TI has removed the page from its site it actually did this three years ago. So it is factually incorrect to say TI is encouraging retailers to track people, based on the evidence presented in the book. Spychips often presents facts in such a way as to lead the reader to believe an RFID vendor or end user had the intent to spy on people, without presenting any evidence whatsoever to support that insinuation.
Benetton was planning to put spychips in its Sisley line of clothing It never says anything, in fact, about how Benetton planned to use the tags. Search for:. Subscribe Login Search. Europe Report Throughout Europe, radio frequency identification technologies are being deployed at large, midsize Smart Packaging Plays a Key Role for Brands and as a Marketing Tool Increasingly, products are being made available for sale through e-commerce and by companies with li Retail Report RFID technology is being deployed at stores and warehouses around the world to improve item-level in Iris Nova Manages Honor System Beverage Sales For decades, the non-alcoholic beverage industry has been dominated by sugary drinks sold at high vo Address Line 1.
Address Line 2. State or Province. Zip or Postal Code.
While manufacturers and the government want you to believe that they would never misuse the technology, the future looks like an Orwellian nightmare when you consider the possibilities of surveillance and tracking these chips embody. Combining in-depth research with firsthand reporting, Spychips reveals how RFID technology, if left unchecked, could soon destroy our privacy, radically alter the economy, and open the floodgates for civil liberty abuses. Liz McIntyre is an award-winning investigative writer with a flair for exposing corporate shenanigans and bureaucratic misdeeds. She serves as… More about Liz McIntyre. I nominate Spychips. Category: Domestic Politics Technology. Add to Cart.
Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID
Katherine Albrecht is a consumer privacy advocate and spokesperson against radio-frequency identification RFID. Albrecht devised the term " spy chips " to describe RFID tags such as those embedded in passport cards and certain enhanced United States driver's licenses. She is a resident of Nashua, New Hampshire. The book lays out the potential implications of RFID on privacy and civil liberties. In a lengthy rebuttal, Albrecht asked why critics don't "mention sworn patent documents from IBM describing ways to secretly follow innocent people in libraries, theaters, and public restrooms through the RFID tags in their clothes and belongings? Where is […] outrage over BellSouth's patent-pending plans to pick through our garbage and skim the data contained in the RFID tags we discard? Albrecht later broadcast "The Dr.
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