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"Privacy Friendly" RFID Tag Can Still Be Read

Information Week | November 13, 2006
Mary Hayes Weier

IBM's answer to privacy concerns about RFID tags: tear them off. The company last week said it has its first manufacturing agreement for its Clipped Tag, which is designed with an antenna that's as easy to remove as ripping a piece of paper.

That would let retailers put on unpurchased merchandise a tag that could be read at a distance for inventory and other uses. Once bought, the ripped tag could be read only from inches away, making it useful for returns but not a security risk. Some worry tags that can be read from up to 30 feet create risks, with thieves using RFID scanners to lie in wait and rob buyers.

IBM, of course, hasn't convinced skeptics like Katherine Albrecht, co-author of anti-RFID book Spychips, who says once item-level tagging leads to an infrastructure for such individualized data, people will misuse it in ways that violate privacy.

IBM's manufacturing licensee, Marnlen RFID, still needs to find business customers for the tags. But IBM, ever the hipster, has done an informational YouTube video on them.


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