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Consumer Group Offers New Materials for Understanding RFID

The National Consumers League has posted information on its site to help educate consumers about RFID.
Posted By Privacy Administrator, 02.22.2007
Privacy Administrator

It's not often a consumer advocacy group writes about radio frequency identification in an unbiased way, but the National Consumers League, the oldest consumer advocacy group in the United States, has done just that. The group has created a new area on its site dedicated to RFID.

The site contains a glossary of the most basic RFID terms and frequently asked questions, including:

• What is RFID, and how does it work?
• How big are the tags?
• How is RFID used in the real world?
• How close to the tag does the reader need to be?
• What information can be stored on the chips in the tags?
• What about security?
• How can RFID benefit consumers?
• What about my privacy?
• How do I know if RFID is being used?

The answers to these questions are factual and balanced. What's more, they deal exclusively with Electronic Product Code (EPC) systems and don't address issues such as RFID tags in passports or contactless credit cards. It's good to see an organization dedicated to benefiting consumers talking about EPC in an objective way.

The site addresses such concerns as the potential for RFID to contain consumers' personal information, including health records and bank-account numbers. It also discusses several benefits to consumers, including greater convenience and reduced anticounterfeiting.

"Our goal is to provide consumers with the basic ABCs of RFID," said Susan Grant, vice president for public policy at the National Consumer League, in a statement, "so they can make informed decisions as they encounter this technology in various forms in the marketplace."

It would be nice if more consumer-advocacy groups were upfront about the potential benefits RFID offers consumers. Perhaps they fear that if consumers knew about all the benefits the technology can offer, no one would listen to them anymore.

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