Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

Addressing Fears About RFID

The industry and end users need to be proactive to alleviate consumer concerns that RFID tags can be hidden in clothing and other products.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 01, 2008—On March 12, 2003, Philips Semiconductors (now NXP) announced it would ship 15 million high-frequency radio frequency identification tags for use by Benetton in its Sisley line of clothes. Within days, a previously obscure organization called Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) was calling for a boycott of Benetton and telling every journalist who would listen that RFID tags in clothes would be used by marketers to spy on their customers.

More than five years later, the dynamics of the debate over RFID and privacy have changed little, even though manufacturers and retailers have taken steps to address concerns. Most apparel manufacturers have opted to tag clothing by placing the RFID transponder in a hangtag or on packaging that's removed by the customer after the purchase, rather than embedding the tag in the item. And retailers have not associated RFID serial numbers with individual customers, to avoid any appearance that the tag could be used to track customers.


Yet Katherine Albrecht, founder of CASPIAN, continues to get significant press coverage with claims that marketers and the government will use RFID to spy on unsuspecting individuals. Even Scientific American, a magazine that has published articles by more than 120 Nobel laureates, recently ran a six-page story by Albrecht titled "How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People." In the article she writes:

"During the past decade a shift toward embedding chips in individual consumer goods and, now, official identity documents has created a new set of privacy and security problems precisely because RFID is such a powerful tracking technology. Very little security is built into the tags themselves, and existing laws offer people scant protection from being surreptitiously tracked and profiled while living an increasingly tagged life."

There hasn't been a shift toward embedding RFID tags in individual consumer goods, but there has been a move toward embedding RFID in identity documents, most notably passports. That, coupled with false claims about tags being embedded in clothes, has enabled her to keep the fear alive that people will be tracked without their knowledge through RFID transponders they carry. Although many countries are taking steps to prevent "skimming"—surreptitiously reading data stored in an RFID tag without a person's knowledge—the media continues to give Albrecht a soapbox because she generates anxiety, and anxiety gets people to read magazines and blogs or watch television news ("Could your child be killed by eating Cheerios? Find out by tuning in to the Late News at 11").

The anxiety stems from the claim that companies or government agencies could track you without your knowledge, and that claim has persisted for five years because on a superficial level it's believable. You can't see radio waves, so people don't know when a tag they might be carrying is being read. They don't know when they're being tracked, what the data might be used for, or how to stop it.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 1,014 words and 2 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations
© Copyright 2002-2016 RFID Journal LLC.
Powered By: Haycco