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Cisco's RFID privacy tracker

Computer Crime Research Center | May 12, 2005

Cisco, Intel and BT have announced a joint initiative focused on wireless security. In particular, they aim to ensure that equipment supports the new WPA2 standard – the brand name for the 802.11i specification – from the outset. They aim to boost confidence in wireless security, but the alliance can also be seen as an attempt by a few giants to sew up the most lucrative part of the Wi-Fi market under the guise of secure platforms.

Another new Cisco offering out of the Airespace labs is the Wireless Location Appliance 2700, which is designed to help customers track and locate 802.11 devices, such as laptops, PDAs and Wi-Fi enabled RFID tags, to within a few meters. This will be used for recovering lost property and for asset management applications.

Thus Cisco has come under fire from privacy groups as it prepares to launch a wireless RFID server that can track people and equipment using existing Wi-Fi networks.

"This can track your most valuable assets and people," said Phil Dean, manager of applications networking for Cisco EMEA.

However, the technology was slammed by privacy group Liberty. "This latest product undermines employee privacy even further and reinforces the slur that workers cannot be trusted," said Dr Caoilfhionn Gallagher, policy officer at Liberty.

"Using RFID in fixed objects is one thing, using it in moving objects and embedded in uniforms is another. This allows employers to track behaviour and movement during work hours."

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