Government Technology

Public Trust of RFID



November 14, 2007 By

In October, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law banning the forced implantation of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in humans by an employer.

RFID tags are basically a microchip attached to an antenna which transmits information with radio waves. A scanner picks up these radio signals and sends the information to a computer system, thus identifying the item the chip is attached to. RFIDs are used today to track inventory, in library books, passports, automatic toll bridge systems and even credit cards.

But for most, this technology is vague and formless. People do not realize they are using RFID every day in their car's keyless entry or company ID badges.

According to the study "RFID Reports: 'Public Policy: Understanding Public Opinion,'" by Auto-ID Labs, University of Cambridge, U.K., the main concern of people "is that they do not have a choice as to when or where the technology is used or as to how it will impact them." They are also concerned that the technology will be abused, creating a negative affect on their privacy.

This subject was expounded upon at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Academy in San Francisco. Experts Daniel Pradelles, Privacy Officer for Hewlett Packard, and Sandra R. Hughes, Global Privacy Executive for Proctor & Gamble, explained the various privacy issues surrounding RFID, and what can be done to protect privacy while taking advantage of a new technology.

State Senator Joe Simitian -- sponsor of the California bill banning forced RFID implantation in humans -- admits that RFID is not necessarily a bad thing. "RFID technology is not in and of itself the issue. RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," said Simitian. "But we cannot and should not condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy."  

What the public needs is education said Pradelles. "Education of all. When I say of all, this is not only education of the consumer ... we need education of all people using RFID chips and RFID information." The public needs to understand the various types, techniques, ranges, frequencies and applications of RFID. Does this tag transmit constantly or is it inactive? How can I know? What is the range of this tag?

With RFID's potential to be invisible, people wonder when and what data is being collected, where it is going and who has access to their information. RFID also worries the public because of its ability for 24 hour surveillance, unknown gathering and improper use of data, monitoring and ID theft. The Auto-ID Labs study revealed that the public's "second concern is that they believe that the [RFID] system will be abused and that this will have a negative effect on them, especially in regards to their privacy."

One way that may help to both inform the public and educate them is through the creation of a universal symbol for RFID tags, explained Sandra Hughes. This symbol would be much like the copyright symbol -- universally recognized and understood. "There is a project proposal from the Center for Information Policy Leadership ... to come up with some requirements and specifications if we would have a universal symbol that would go across all industries across the globe," Hughes said. When an RFID tag is used in a department store to control merchandise, for example, the universal symbol would be posted on the door or as part of the receipt, or on the product, letting the customer know that tags are in use.

The use of such a universal symbol would increase transparency in RFID operations, enabling the public to be more aware of its applications and giving them the resources necessary to learn more about tagging. "The idea


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Comments

Anonymous    |    Commented November 14, 2007

I think it comes down to, do we trust people or technology? I would rather trust in people before technology. I know it has its place in certain areas. The technology road makes everyone a suspect or guilt untill proven innocent. Trusting people from my observation begats trust or innocent until proven guilty. trying to idiot proof the world just creates more idiots. Is technology now more about money, or is it really helping people? I believe it needs to slow down and form a base of reality, somthing that lasts longer, get repaired, stay with some thing long enough, that people can get used to, not constantly having to learn a new program. I do not believe it should be used to tag people. If people don't control it, it will end up controling us.

Anonymous    |    Commented November 14, 2007

I think it comes down to, do we trust people or technology? I would rather trust in people before technology. I know it has its place in certain areas. The technology road makes everyone a suspect or guilt untill proven innocent. Trusting people from my observation begats trust or innocent until proven guilty. trying to idiot proof the world just creates more idiots. Is technology now more about money, or is it really helping people? I believe it needs to slow down and form a base of reality, somthing that lasts longer, get repaired, stay with some thing long enough, that people can get used to, not constantly having to learn a new program. I do not believe it should be used to tag people. If people don't control it, it will end up controling us.

Anonymous    |    Commented November 14, 2007

I think it comes down to, do we trust people or technology? I would rather trust in people before technology. I know it has its place in certain areas. The technology road makes everyone a suspect or guilt untill proven innocent. Trusting people from my observation begats trust or innocent until proven guilty. trying to idiot proof the world just creates more idiots. Is technology now more about money, or is it really helping people? I believe it needs to slow down and form a base of reality, somthing that lasts longer, get repaired, stay with some thing long enough, that people can get used to, not constantly having to learn a new program. I do not believe it should be used to tag people. If people don't control it, it will end up controling us.

frank    |    Commented November 15, 2007

how is this device (RFID) affected by MRI (medical) tesrting?

frank    |    Commented November 15, 2007

how is this device (RFID) affected by MRI (medical) tesrting?

frank    |    Commented November 15, 2007

how is this device (RFID) affected by MRI (medical) tesrting?

Steve Hammond,    |    Commented November 21, 2007

There are significant public benefits to deploying RFID technology for inventory management control. Millions of dollars of inventory "shrinks" everyday through theft (internal and external), lost goods, and mismanagement. This "shrinkage" occurs in all industries including educational institutions and government facilities. By implementing a solid Asset Management system with RFID technology, governments can save significant money by dramatically reducing shrinkage and having greater control of inventory. Two examples are: 1) Schools: Asset management with RFID can provide control of all inventory of high value assets like computers and text books. Knowing where all the items are within the school system helps with managing reallocation and reducing replacement costs. A strong Asset Management system is also required within many states to keep grant funding and remain in audit compliance. 2) Governments: As more governments deploy mobile computing devices, more shrinkage occurs and replacement costs increase. Again, deploying RFID technology based Asset Management reduces shrinkage, increases control of high value assets and improves organizational and information security. As for human tagging..... no thanks!

Steve Hammond,    |    Commented November 21, 2007

There are significant public benefits to deploying RFID technology for inventory management control. Millions of dollars of inventory "shrinks" everyday through theft (internal and external), lost goods, and mismanagement. This "shrinkage" occurs in all industries including educational institutions and government facilities. By implementing a solid Asset Management system with RFID technology, governments can save significant money by dramatically reducing shrinkage and having greater control of inventory. Two examples are: 1) Schools: Asset management with RFID can provide control of all inventory of high value assets like computers and text books. Knowing where all the items are within the school system helps with managing reallocation and reducing replacement costs. A strong Asset Management system is also required within many states to keep grant funding and remain in audit compliance. 2) Governments: As more governments deploy mobile computing devices, more shrinkage occurs and replacement costs increase. Again, deploying RFID technology based Asset Management reduces shrinkage, increases control of high value assets and improves organizational and information security. As for human tagging..... no thanks!

Steve Hammond,    |    Commented November 21, 2007

There are significant public benefits to deploying RFID technology for inventory management control. Millions of dollars of inventory "shrinks" everyday through theft (internal and external), lost goods, and mismanagement. This "shrinkage" occurs in all industries including educational institutions and government facilities. By implementing a solid Asset Management system with RFID technology, governments can save significant money by dramatically reducing shrinkage and having greater control of inventory. Two examples are: 1) Schools: Asset management with RFID can provide control of all inventory of high value assets like computers and text books. Knowing where all the items are within the school system helps with managing reallocation and reducing replacement costs. A strong Asset Management system is also required within many states to keep grant funding and remain in audit compliance. 2) Governments: As more governments deploy mobile computing devices, more shrinkage occurs and replacement costs increase. Again, deploying RFID technology based Asset Management reduces shrinkage, increases control of high value assets and improves organizational and information security. As for human tagging..... no thanks!


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