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Cisco slammed for RFID staff tracker
Wireless RFID server tracks personnel via tags embedded in uniforms

VNU Net | May 4, 2005

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.

The Wireless Location Appliance 2700 is designed to track RFID tags down to a few metres and display the location on a central map.

Alarms can be raised if the tag moves out of a predefined area, allowing companies to track equipment and, more controversially, personnel.

"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."

The server was developed by AirSpace before the company was bought by Cisco. It damps down fluctuating levels of Wi-Fi coverage throughout a walled building to obtain an accurate fix on the tags.

It will only work with active RFID tags, which carry a power source, rather than the smaller passive systems that only activate when scanned. The active tags cost at least $5 each, which would boost the cost of widescale deployment.

The server will be available in June and will cost about £8,000.

 

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