Red Ice Membership

RFID: "adopt or die"
2004 09 22

"RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is an automatic data capture technology that uses tiny tracking chips affixed to products. These tiny chips can be used to track items at a distance--right through someone's purse, backpack, or wallet. Many of the world's largest manufacturing companies would like to replace the bar code with these "spy chips," meaning that virtually every item on the planet--and the people wearing and carrying those items--could be remotely tracked. There is currently NO REGULATION protecting consumers from abuse of this technology

RFID employs a numbering scheme called EPC (for "electronic product code") which can provide a unique ID for any physical object in the world. The EPC is intended to replace the UPC bar code used on products today. Unlike the bar code, however, the EPC goes beyond identifying product categories--it actually assigns a unique number to every single item that rolls off a manufacturing line. For example, each pack of cigarettes, individual can of soda, light bulb or package of razor blades produced would be uniquely identifiable through its own EPC number. Once assigned, this number is transmitted by a radio frequency ID tag (RFID) in or on the product. These tiny tags, predicted by some to cost less than 1 cent each by 2004, are "somewhere between the size of a grain of sand and a speck of dust." They are to be built directly into food, clothes, drugs, or auto-parts during the manufacturing process.

Receiver or reader devices are used to pick up the signal transmitted by the RFID tag. Proponents envision a pervasive global network of millions of receivers along the entire supply chain -- in airports, seaports, highways, distribution centers, warehouses, retail stores, and in the home. This would allow for seamless, continuous identification and tracking of physical items as they move from one place to another, enabling companies to determine the whereabouts of all their products at all times.

Steven Van Fleet, an executive at International Paper, looks forward to the prospect. "We'll put a radio frequency ID tag on everything that moves in the North American supply chain," he enthused recently.

The ultimate goal is for RFID to create a "physically linked world" in which every item on the planet is numbered, identified, catalogued, and tracked. And the technology exists to make this a reality. Described as "a political rather than a technological problem," creating a global system "would . . . involve negotiation between, and consensus among, different countries." Supporters are aiming for worldwide acceptance of the technologies needed to build the infrastructure within the next few years.

The European Central Bank is quietly working to embed RFID tags in the fibers of Euro banknotes by 2005. The tag would allow money to carry its own history by recording information about where it has been, thus giving governments and law enforcement agencies a means to literally "follow the money" in every transaction. If and when RFID devices are embedded in banknotes, the anonymity that cash affords in consumer transactions will be eliminated."

Article From:

Bookmark and Share