Monday, November 21, 2005

RFID: Spychips - Tracking the Debate

It's not surprising that RFID Journal editor Mark Roberti vehemently denounced the new book, Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move With RFID. He is an active proponent of commercial applications of RFID. His organization was formed to advance that agenda, and he has a professional responsibility to monitor and comment on public opposition.

Neither is it surprising that Katherine Albrecht, co-author of the book and the founder of consumer advocacy group C.A.S.P.I.A.N, vehemently denounced Roberti's assessment. Albrecht advocates full disclosure of any RFID application that may compromise consumer privacy or choice.

In his column Spychips Book Fails to Make Its Case Roberti writes:
"Theoretically, lots of things are possible, but in the real world, companies don't share information about their customers with other companies."

In fact, they do. In fact, RFID facilitates that exchange. In fact, according to Wal-Mart and Target (retail competitors?) are partnering to share Electronic Product Code (EPC) data with some of their suppliers.

I don't know if the Target/Wal-Mart cooperation poses a threat to individual privacy. That remains to be seen.

What I do know is that Roberti's opinion does not threaten the public welfare. Albrecht's opinion does not threaten corporate welfare. What does threaten everyone's interest is the misrepresentation of opinion as fact.

If you allow yourself to be seduced by the power of distortion, you have lost the fight. No matter which side you're on.

As I wrote in my 8/2/05 blog RFID: Spychips, "Those of us who seek transparency can not afford to subordinate language to advance our agenda. That was Orwell's nightmare.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

RFID: CASPIAN Protest in New Hampshire

excerpts from a CASPIAN press release:

CASPIAN members have taken their concerns about RFID technology to the New Hampshire state legislature where a bill requiring labeling of RFID-tagged items is progressing through committee. Passage of this legislation would be a victory for privacy advocates, but it could spell trouble for Wal-Mart and other retailers who worry that consumers will boycott stores that carry items tagged with RFID. The industry's own studies show the vast majority of consumers object to RFID technology on privacy grounds.

Wal-Mart is expected to be especially hard hit by consumer-driven anti-RFID efforts since it has invested millions of dollars in the technology and taken a very public stance in favor of it. "This controversy comes at a time when Wal-Mart can least afford it," said Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of CASPIAN. "They are coming under fire from all sides, for many aspects of their operations. This
will hurt their attempts to position themselves as a more upscale shopping experience and put their publicized bad behavior behind them."

CASPIAN Consumer Privacy //