Radio Frequency Identification

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Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) "devices act as a transponder, using the power of a transmitted radio signal to bounce back a signal that can be read with an appropriately tuned receiver. A device, potentially smaller than a grain of sand, can contain a 64-bit unique identifier yielding about 18 thousand trillion possible values." [1]

RFID Technology Council

In January 2007, the Associated Press reported that "eight technology trade groups ... have formed an ad hoc council to promote the use of radio frequency identification technologies." The trade group members of the "RFID Technology Council" include American Electronics Association, AIM Global, European-American Business Council, IEEE-USA, the Information Technology Association of America, the Information Technology Industry Council, the International RFID Business Association, the Semiconductor Industry Association. Company members include Microsoft, Verizon, and Motorola. [2]

"The RFID Technology Council will support the U.S. Senate RFID Caucus, which was formed last summer to better understand RFID technology and its potential benefits," reported Associated Press. "The caucus is co-chaired by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and John Cornyn, R-Texas." [3]


"The dazzling new technology of the moment is RFID. These tiny chips - as small as a grain of sand - are like barcodes on steroids. They can be added to almost any object, can be read remotely and carry much more information than a barcode. RFIDs seem poised to become the catalyst that can take personal surveillance to a new level, especially as this technology becomes intertwined with ever more sophisticated databases and networks that allow us to easily collect, store, distribute and combine video, audio and other digital trails of our daily transactions. The marriage between RFID and databases can easily lead to micro-monitoring - the highly detailed, largely automatic, widespread surveillance of our daily lives."—Senator Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), March 23, 2004.


January 13, 2003: "Just when certain folks are starting to forget they ever ridiculed the idea that implants under the skin could be used to track personal movement, the technology is about to hit stores. [4]

"Wal-Mart, the leader along with K-Mart in introducing bar code technology for inventory control in 1984, is exploring the use of RFID or Radio Frequency Identification for pricing and tracking merchandise. The same technology can and has been implanted in animals, including race horses, ostriches and perhaps humans." [5]

In April 2004, according to Associated Press, "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and a number of its suppliers" began using RFID tags on 21 types of products (which ones were not identified in the story). The retail giant's goal is to have "more than 100 suppliers using the tags by January" 2005, and to have the system expand from just tagging shipments to tagging each individual item on store shelves.[6]

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said the benefits of using RFID tags include providing "the details of what is in a case or on a pallet of goods" in a "backshop retail environment," allowing "a computer system use a radio signal to log the goods as they arrive." Also, Wal-Mart believes the tags will "help suppliers become more efficient," "help companies on both ends know where their products are at all times" and "help reduce theft and counterfeiting, the latter particularly affecting prescription medicines."[7]

A Procter & Gamble spokesperson agreed, estimating that "counterfeiting costs industry $500 billion worldwide and backshop theft costs companies $50 billion per year," and adding that RFID tags will also "help ensure that store shelves stay stocked."[8]

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