The Message on RFID Privacy Is Getting Through

This time, readers correct an ill-informed blogger.
Published: November 25, 2009

At 6 am on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the Atlanta Journal Constitution posted a blog entitled “The dark side of going green,” by Bob Barr, on its Web site.

In the article, the former U.S. congressman decries a new pilot recycling program known as ReCART (an acronym for “Rewards for Collecting All Recyclables Together”), because, he says, it will allow the government to track individual families’ spending habits. “Not only that,” Barr writes, “but through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, this new pilot program would have very personal information of the homeowner or resident just sitting on their front lawn—literally.”

While I love the irony of a blog titled “The Barr Code” writing about RFID, Barr clearly has his facts wrong. Later in the piece, Barr writes: “The RFID chips to be used in recycling bins to track how much a house recycles are not regulated and can be ‘read’ by anyone possessing a scanner. This technology, containing very personal information of an individual, will be sitting on the front lawn of some Atlanta residences for anyone to pass by and scan.”

Here’s the good part of the story: At 7:15, just an hour and 15 minutes after the blog went up, someone posted this comment: “The RFID chip only contains an identification number, identifying the recycling bin. Mr. Barr’s article makes it sound like any hacker with a scanner can drive by and scan your name, address, Social Security number, etc. This is not accurate.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.