Good for business, bad for privacy?

An older article from The Register (a favorite news site) got called to my attention today. RFID, which hasn’t gotten much attention to date, is poised to become a serious threat to personal privacy over the next few years. The potential for RFID to make the lives of retail businesspeople easier is vast – and as one of them, I can’t say that that’s a bad thing. I just got 60 cases of shoes – more than 1,500 pounds of product – delivered to my store in the past 2 days. Comparing the contents of each case to the printed manifest of what’s supposed to be there is a pain in the butt. If I could just wave a scanner over all the boxes and get an exact inventory readout that I could upload to the computer, I’d be thrilled.

However, something is going to have to be done to allow consumers to remove or disable RFID chips once products have left the store, just like we can remove the sales tags and security devices today. The potential for abuse is just way too vast for there to be any wiggle room on this one. “Once you buy your RFID-tagged jeans at The Gap with RFID-tagged money, walk out of the store wearing RFID-tagged shoes, and get into your car with its RFID-tagged tires, you could be tracked anywhere you travel.” says The Register, and it’s not a pretty picture.