Stop Worrying, and Embrace RFID

stop-worrying-embrace-RFID-blogRadio-frequency identification (RFID) is a convenient technology of using embedded chips as a form of tracking and authentication. It is now fairly common to have pets implanted with RFID chips, so that they can be identified even without a collar.

As more and more RFID products are being put into use, there has been a number of religious and privacy advocates opposing the technology. Yet in reality, RFID isn’t that scary, and we should embrace it.

Now, some schools require students to wear RFID-equipped badges so they can track students’ movement on campus for funding and truancy purposes. One of the students in these schools refused to wear the badge on religious and privacy grounds. In response, the school suspended her until she agrees to use the school ID. Thus a legal battle ensued, and a judge temporarily lifted the school suspension until the case can proceed later.

In fact, these concerns are minor and based on fear of technology. The case mentioned above is just a tinfoil hat situation on a larger scale than normal. Besides, the low-tech method of having teachers taking roll call in class is even more inconvenient and time-consuming. If this was legitimately about privacy concerns, advocates would be against roll call in school as well. Instead, this whole situation is about fear-mongering — not privacy concerns.

Although there are some issues concerning the technology, specifically relating to other people accessing the information on the chip, this can be solved as the technology advances. Preventing unauthorized access to the chip’s data is a problem, but it can be handled with cryptography. For example, using a PIN or rolling code can thwart evil-doers successfully. Besides, some manufacturers are now concerning biometric technology on mobile devices. In the future, it may become an effective means of identification. But if you are still worried about other people reading your RFID chip, you can cover it in an RF-blocking wallet

Behavior is the real problem here — not technology. RFID is a useful tool and it’s already being used by big companies like Wal-mart and organizations like the Department of Defense in the United States for authentication and tracking purposes.

Yes, it’s true that RFID might be abused by some evil-doers, but it’s just like anything else and the technology isn’t inherently bad. After all, common technology like smartphones and tablets are more susceptible to nefarious use. Thus we should embrace RFID and stop worrying about the tech so much. Just give it a break.