Essay on Ethics of RFID in the Consumer Industry

Essay on Ethics of RFID in the Consumer Industry

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Ethics of RFID in the Consumer Industry


RFID is a technology, some say, which will be to the barcode as the Internet is to the telephone. RFID is short for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a combination of many tags to few readers that communicate with each other to determine a part or person’s whereabouts in a supply chain or surrounding area. RFID tags, like bar codes, share the central purpose of representing a data chunk. The RFID tag does not actually do anything (i.e. calculations, manual counting, etc.); rather it just transmits the data that is stored within it upon request.

RFID tags are very small (and getting smaller as technology advances) devices that consist of an integrated circuit (IC) and an antenna capable of transmitting unique information to RF transmitters or readers [1,9]. The cost of simple RFID tags should drop to $0.05/tag threshold – the price point most users are aiming for as RFID develops into a ubiquitous technology for widespread adoption. Tag size will soon be reduced to 0.4mm x 0.4mm, and thinner than a sheet of paper [1].

The most common tags today are developed by EPC Global (Electronic Product Code, formerly AutoID Center). These tags will be described later. These tags are a total of 96 bits and have the following information stored on them:

·Manufacturer (EPC Manager)

·Product (Object) Class (SKU)

·Individual identity (serial number)

Batteries do not power most RFID tags; these are identified as passive tags. These passive tags are dormant until they receive a signal activated by the reader [8]. In contrast, active tags have a power source, are not as common and have a larger footprint, but can be read from much longer distances [9]. RFID is bec...

... middle of paper ...

...eport MIT-AUTOID-WH-006, MIT Auto ID Center, 2001.

[5] S. E. Sarma, S. A. Weis, and D.W. Engels. Radio-frequency-identification security risks and challenges. CryptoBytes, 6(1), 2003.

[6] S. E. Sarma, S. A. Weis, and D.W. Engels. RFID systems, security and privacy implications. Technical Report MIT-AUTOID-WH-014, AutoID Center, MIT, 2002.

[7] Jeffrey Silva. Privacy concerns dog RFID deployments. RCR News, May 10, 2004

[8] A. Weiss. Me and my shadow. netWorker, 7(3): 24-30, Sep. 2003.

[9] S.A. Weis. Radio-frequency identification security and privacy. Master’s thesis, M.I.T. May 2003.

[10] J.Yoshida. RFID 'kill' feature aims to soothe privacy fears. In EE Times. URL: Apr. 28, 2003.

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