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Privacy Questions

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athenaz View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 February 2006 at 10:51am

This is not a rant...not at all. I am writing a paper on Privacy for school and not wanting to do the usual stuff the rest of the class is doing, I chose to write about RFID. As this is a persuasive paper of 1,500-1,750 words, I need to convince my readers that RFID does or does not violate their privacy.

I think it all comes down to choices we make, but since you are all deep into the research and implementation of the RFID devices, what is your stance and why?

If this needs to be in the philosophy section of your board, please feel free to move it.

Thanks for your time!



Edited by athenaz - 22 February 2006 at 10:51am
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amal View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote amal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 February 2006 at 12:14pm
Welcome to the forum!

RFID is like any other kind of identifying technology... it can be used for either purpose. The reason why RFID is in the hot seat right now is that, unlike barcodes, it can be read without line-of-sight, and be read from a distance.

The main concern right now is that the distance can be quite large depending on what technology is used, and the person does not know they are being identified. So obviously, privacy violations would depend on how RFID was being used to ID people, and who had access to that data.

At this point, you can be triangulated and tracked based on your cell phone signal, even when you're not talking on it. You can also be tracked and your privacy invaded by checking your bank statements and credit card purchase history.

Biometrics offer an even greater chance to abuse and invade your privacy. In the UK, authorities have setup public city cameras that watch intersections and public areas. They have connected these cameras to a centralized computer that uses biometric facial recognition to track random individuals from place to place.

There is no way for anyone to know that they are being tracked by biometric methods like this, and there is no way for them to opt-out or protect themselves from this privacy invasion. RFID on the other hand can be shielded, removed, or otherwise opted-out of.

That being said... the largest privacy concerns surrounding RFID revolve around RFID tags that are embedded into the things we buy and wear and walk around with. Clothing has been one huge area of concern. The thought is that the clothes we buy will have tags in them, and these tags will be tied to us at the time of purchase. Then as we walk around with these RFID tags, they can be read by a yet-to-be setup infrastructure of readers that can place us in a specific location at a specific time... essentially tracking us around.

At this time, clothes with RFID tags in them are designed to have the tags removed before wearing or washing. The tags even say "remove before washing or wearing", and have a "cut here" line on them. The tags, at this point, will not survive more than a wash cycle or two, and there is no economical reason for clothing manufactures to spend the extra millions to make those tags resistant to the washing machine... it's just not that big of a concern... not at this point anyways.

Other forms of privacy invasion revolve around things like kids wearing RFID enabled name badges which allow the schools to track kids and make sure they are in class or wherever they are supposed to be. That in itself isn't a big issue, but the problem lies in the fact that once the kids leave school property, those RFID tags will continue to function, and could possibly be used to track kids around outside of school... should an interested party be willing to put the millions of dollars into building the infrastructure of thousands of connected readers that would enable a "tracking grid".

At this point, there just isn't enough of an RFID infrastructure to warrant mass-panic about privacy invasion. It's wise for people to stay on top of the issue and fight invasion advances wherever they occur, but I think people are focusing on the wrong thing... they have tunnel vision fixed on RFID while public biometric tracking is being setup under their very noses.



Edited by amal - 22 February 2006 at 4:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liquid_speaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2010 at 12:36pm
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