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RE: The importance of privacy

By T. Rawat 2004-06-14 09:58:37 PM

I believe that appropriate consumer protection should be in place before the widespread use of EPC in consumer-touching applications. However, if you carefully read much of what CASPIAN claims, it is clearly stretching the truth to advance an agenda.

Take a look at the following page: http://www.spychips.com/what-is-rfid.html and see for yourself. Let me list some of the statements that aim to spread fear regarding the technology:

1. Calling RFID tags spychips...as if these tags were designed specifically to spy on you. They have been around for half a century and have been used in all sorts of applications, none of which have been for the purpose of secretly tracking citizens as they go about their daily lives.

2. "With today's bar code technology, every can of Coke has the same UPC or bar code number as every other can (a can of Coke in Toronto has the same number as a can of Coke in Topeka). With RFID, each individual can of Coke would have a unique ID number which could be linked to the person buying it when they scan a credit card or a frequent shopper card (i.e., an "item registration system")." This is true, except that everyone knows that a can of Coke is just about the worst possible item you can try to tag. UHF tags, the RFID technology which is being targeted by Walmart, do a horrible job of working on metal surfaces or objects that contain water. What is a can of Coke other than a bunch of metal holding water?

3. "Unlike a bar code, these chips can be read from a distance, right through your clothes, wallet, backpack or purse -- without your knowledge or consent -- by anybody with the right reader device. In a way, it gives strangers x-ray vision powers to spy on you, to identify both you and the things you're wearing and carrying." First off, bar code can also be read from a distance, but it requires line-of-sight. Second, most RFID tags cannot be read very well from any great distance, requiring that someone would have to get fairly close to get a decent read on the object you might have. Third, there is no way for a reader to pinpoint a tag. So, even if I could read the tag on something in your bag, I don't know which bag the object is in. If you are standing next to someone with a bag, then I can't tell which person has the object. If you are in a crowd, then reading the tag is a worthless exercise unless I just like to know that there is a can of Coke somewhere in the crowd. Fourth, there are very few handheld or portable devices around that can read an RFID tag. So, in order to read most tags, one would need to drag a large metal box and have some sort of power supply with them. Not an effective way to spy on people. Fifth, reading the RFID tag is useless without access to the databases that contain information related to the serial number on the tag. So, I can't just read a tag and know all sorts of stuff about you. I need to have access to loads of protected corporate data beforehand.

3. "Unlike the bar code, RFID could be bad for your health. RFID supporters envision a world where RFID reader devices are everywhere - in stores, in floors, in doorways, on airplanes -- even in the refrigerators and medicine cabinets of our own homes. In such a world, we and our children would be continually bombarded with electromagnetic energy. Researchers do not know the long-term health effects of chronic exposure to the energy emitted by these reader devices." This is some of the worst kind of fearmongering I have ever read. Any idea what frequency the RFID technology works at? 915Mhz...same frequency as millions of cellphones, cordless phones, and even wireless LANs... devices that we happily use everyday. If we are going to experience health issues from technology using this part of the radio spectrum, it won't be solely due to the use of RFID.

There are plenty of other statements and falsehoods spread about the CASPIAN websites and related articles. Its a shame, really. RFID is a powerful technology that can be used in a great many productive and meaningful ways. CASPIAN could be fostering productive, constructive debate that truly advances the best interests of the public. But, spreading FUD doesn't do anyone any good.

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Thread Messages

The importance of privacy
By A. Marker
RE: The importance of privacy
By C. .
RE: The importance of privacy
By T. Rawat
RE: The importance of privacy

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