RFiD, Radio Frequency Identification. The technology in itself can be helpful, and there are many industries already using it. These industries and new ones will continue to promote it because from their point of view it is incredibly beneficial to their bottom line. And marketed correctly to the consumer it will be accepted readily. This technology is growing, and there are many potential uses for it. As chip pricing continues to drop and companies continue to create uses for the technology look for RFiD to proliferate.

Here is a RFID Privacy Advocate, Dr.Katherine Albrecht. This is part 1 of a 3 part video.  She may seem alarmist at times, however she understands this technology extremely well, and there is nobody better at seeing the consumer-side of the industry. She is the unofficial watch-hawk of the industry. If you have limited time, start watching this video at 6:40.

When considering the rest of this article, one must remember that Passive RFID Technology doesn’t need to be hacked, it was designed to be completely open. A  reading and cloning of the pass information is all it takes.

Regarding some cloning and security concerns Wikipedia states (RFID, Safety Concerns), “Other cryptographic protocols attempt to achieve privacy against unauthorized readers, though these protocols are largely in the research stage. One major challenge in securing RFID tags is a shortage of computational resources within the tag. Standard cryptographic techniques require more resources than are available in most low cost RFID devices.”

Bruce Schneier speaks regarding the open source reading software at RF Dump.org:
“[Grunwald] is doing what RFID is supposed to do,” said security author and Counterpane Internet Security Inc. Chief Technology Officer Bruce Schneier. “This is serious. He didn’t hack anything. RFID technology originally was designed to be completely open; that’s its problem. He went to the spec, read it and followed it. If you query the chip, you will get this info. If there were security countermeasures on the chip that were thwarted, then we could talk about hacking.” Source: Computerworld USA 2004

I will give you a RFID scenario that will seem very beneficial. And indeed in itself it could be.
All the products that you purchase have an RFiD chip placed in the package. And you have a kitchen with shelving and refrigerator which have RFiD readers built-in.

Getting ready to create a grocery list? You use your Kroger/Safeway/Grocery Store Tablet PC app. You simply push a button, and it inventories what you have and generates a shopping list for you. You print it out and take it to the grocery store, and the application prints your discount coupons to take to the store. Or perhaps you make an adjustment to your order push “SEND” and your order is whisked to the grocery store with all applicable discounts. When you arrive, your groceries are packaged and ready for you. You don’t even need your Credit card, because it is already linked to your iPad application. You just say thank you, and off you go. You love it.  Technology at its finest.

I could write several chapters on marketing strategies based off this relatively simple application of RFiD. Topics would include consumer adoption, consumer incentives, tiered shopper pricing, incentive pricing, impulse purchasing, preferred product placement, etc. When a person realizes grocery store margins are extremely thin. Stores make much of their money by selling grocery aisle “real estate” rather than by simply selling the products. And the large grocery stores also sell your buying data to third-party “partners” from purchases that you make on your “value/discount card”.

The “Marketing” Office – Parody –  This is fictional, entirely fictional. In no way possible could this conversation really taken place. Really, seriously, there is no way, really…..

Third-party partners don’t necessarily have to fall within the same industry, in fact many times they do not. For example, an Insurance company (Health, life, auto)… would want to know if you bought a case of cigarettes, beer or liquor every 3 days. Or if you participate in what some would call “risky” activities.  Such as skiing double-black diamond or terrain park runs all day long.

When a person truly understands the scope of the way data can be shared and interpreted I ask, “Can you see how the puzzle of your habits and lifestyle can be put together?” Companies say they are just looking to stratify you into a group, and there is no desire for them to identify you personally. However, the data allows them to if they wish. Your name, email, and social security number are just cells on a spreadsheet.

Ski and Ride free and untracked!

Ski and Ride free and untracked

The industries employing RFiD have incredible financial backing, and financial incentive to have you adopt the technology.

They control a much larger media machine than any individual opponent. Yet as an individual we do have the right (for now) to determine how we share our information. When I ski or ride I prefer to do it UNTRACKED, and leave an anonymous reminder of where I have been.

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