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Radio Frequency Identification Tags: Two Perspectives

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On the second day of the Terra Incognita conference, we had the opportunity to hear about recent innovations in radio frequency identification tags (RFIDs).

RFIDs have been presented as a tremendous technological advancement that will help companies large and small track their inventory, expedite shipments and protect goods in a retail environment. By design, they are also tracking devices. This can have an effect on personal privacy if RFID technology is linked to information that can identify an individual.

Two distinct perspectives were presented. Dr. Kathryn Albrecht, the Director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, delivered a critical broadside against radio tags and their consumer applications. On the other hand, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, argued the benefits of building privacy guarantees into technologies such as RFIDs. She focused specifically on her Office’s work and the development of the IPC Privacy Guidelines for RFID Information Systems.

We have transferred both Dr. Albrecht and Dr. Cavoukian’s presentations to They are embedded below as well.

In addition, the Conference research papers and presentations on RFIDs are available online.

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