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Be Afraid—of Ignorant Bloggers

Those who confuse long-range active RFID tags with extremely short-range tags are a menace to society.
Posted By Privacy Administrator, 02.26.2007
Folks who logged on last week to Yahoo!, one of the Web’s most trafficked sites, were confronted with a headline that said, “What’s Tracking You?” A subhead said: “Identification chips such as the speck on this label are getting so small, they could be anywhere. A concern?”

That blurb linked to a blog entry by Tom Samiljan, who bills himself as “The Gadget Hound.” The entry was entitled Be Afraid: Powder-Sized RFID Chips. In it, Samiljan remarks about a story he read about Hitachi’s plans to start marketing RFID tags no bigger than a speck of dust. He points out that Hitachi believes these could be used in paper, currency, gift certificates and the like.

Samiljan questions whether “the terror” around RFID is over-hyped. He points out that he practically touch his PayPass to the point-of-sale reader at his local drug store, then goes on to say, “When I go through a toll booth, my RFID-enabled EZ Pass box is only about ten feet away from the sensor. So maybe it is time to watch what you eat, lest Big Brother starts to track you wirelessly (or you spill some RFID powder from which evil ID thieves that can extract your vital stats!).”

It’s hard to imagine how incredibly ignorant you have to be to equate a tiny RFID chip that has an onboard antenna and a read range equivalent to the length of an ant’s eyelash with a battery-powered transmitter stuck on a windshield. It’s a bit like suggesting we should be afraid of digital cameras because the government has super-high resolution cameras on satellites that can capture images of people on the ground.

This kind of irresponsible blogging only serves to misinform the public and turn people off a technology that could make their lives safer and more convenient. The Gadget Hound should either do a little more research before spouting off or stick to topics he knows something about.

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