near-field communications (NFC), magnetic strips, movement-tracking radars in grocery and department stores, all
are systems designed to facilitate efficient merchandizing. Even when used legally, many aspects of the science
are cause for concern from a privacy perspective. Visions of Orwell's Big Brother immediately come to mind, where
an overarching, omnipresent government monitors and controls the movement of society's pawns... er, citizens.
Distributors and users of the sensor products (RFID, NFC tags) and tracking systems range in complicity from
(sorry, but that's a well-defined term from the
to prosecutable criminals. The overwhelming majority - myself included - are part of the former. Marketing
government entities, and street vermin make up the latter. This video, produced by TV station WREG, in Memphis,
TN, is yet another demonstration of how much easier it is getting for someone to abscond with your personal data
simply by being able to get within a fairly small proximity of you. Your wallet never needs to leave your pocket
or purse. Some stores and office building have been reported to host systems that attempt to read tags sewn into
clothing or imbedded in other items, along
detecting (but supposedly not reading) credit card types, and other forms of scannable ID, in order to determine
your shopping and travel habits. The OnStar system in your vehicle, security cameras on every street corner, in
every parking lot, and toll booth
the help of facial recognition software), and even credit card purchase transactions routinely collect and
distribute (usually for a price) information on where you were, what you did, and when you did it. Such data is
part of prosecution - and sometimes defense - in court. The good news is that there are products available that
help to protect you from prying electronic eyes, and for not a lot of money. Think of it as another tax you must
pay for your privacy. Question: How many of the people in the video do you think went out and bought a shielded
wallet? My guess is none.
This video is no longer available anywhere.
Here is a good paper on Modern RFID
Readers, downloadable from the Microwave Journal website
Preradovic and Nemai C. Karmakar Electrical & Computer Systems Engineering, Monash University)
Thanks to Cornell for this video.
Posted December 14, 2010