Tuesday, December 4, 2007

You are tagged

Radio transmitters to track merchandise are one thing, but are people ready for ID imbedded in their bodies?

It is the technology that is everywhere and no place. It is invisibly inserted into the perky keyless remote that unlocks your car. It opens the garage door. It is wedged in the pass cards that let employees into office buildings. Subtle and controversial, the radio frequency identification device, or RFID, makes our lives more convenient in myriad small ways.

But on a larger scale, critics warn that these dime-sized radio transmitters will one day become digital tattle-tales, a tool of what privacy experts call uberveillance: information about us gathered without our knowledge.

If this phrase, coined by philosopher Michael G. Michael, is the ultimate aim for this $4-billion industry, the 500 attendees at the RFID Journal Live Canada conference in Toronto last week were being very discreet about it. Instead, guests insisted that these microchips (or "are-fids") are used to follow widgets, not people: tracking inventory from point of origin to the time it reaches the retailer, and occasionally tracking beyond retail through global positioning....read more

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