RFID Chips: A Privacy And Security Pandora’s Box?

A research article published in the current issue of the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management suggests that Big Brother could be opening a privacy and security Pandora’s Box if human rights, particularly regarding data protection are not addressed in the design of new RFID applications.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips can be found tagging everything from groceries and clothing to the experimental swipe-free credit cards used to pay for those goods. In library cards, warehouse inventories, and under-skin pet tags. They are also used for prisoner and parole tags, in hospital patient wristbands, and in smart passports.

According to Eleni Kosta and Jos Dumortier of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, the benefits of RFID technology in innovation are beyond question. However, the threats posed to personal privacy should be taken into account at the design phase of the applications. Their increasingly widespread deployment means individuals do not necessarily know when, how and what kind of information about them is being transmitted at any given time from an RFID in a passport, in their shopping bags, or even when they visit the library.

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