[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994, the Politech mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Jim Harper asks: What's so bad about RFID?

Posted at 2004-07-13 23:12:07 by Declan McCullagh
in Politech category "privacy/tracking"

Jim Harper of Privacilla.org writes in with this response to two recent Politech posts on RFID:

I was interested by your two posts about RFID being used to track humans. It's not very astonishing, of course, when RFID is used this way because people *want* it used this way.

The commentator below warns of people being "duped into accepting tracking devices at the peril of our privacy for the sake of convenience." But if consumers want convenience, and trade some privacy to get it, I fail to see why they would be dupes for doing so. People give up privacy all the time for things they want more. Isn't the point to get consumers what they want?

(Folks whose response is "I think consumers should prioritize privacy more highly" have failed Social Analysis 101 because they're substituting their personal preferences for those of consumers as a whole.)

I recently published a piece with the Competitive Enterprise Institute about the potential privacy consequences of RFID in consumer goods. I believe that a variety of social forces will constrain RFID in the consumer goods environment to minimize the privacy threats while maximizing consumer welfare.

It's sure to raise hackles from people who assume that the most powerful RFID technologies will be surreptitiously placed in consumer goods. But for others, this may be a welcome even-keeled assessment.

The link:

Permanent link to "Jim Harper asks: What's so bad about RFID?":