How Will Microchips Affect Your Privacy?

Last week, I told you about the phased-in use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to track farm animals in U.S. Department of Agriculture databases, a major concern that could limit our ability to buy healthy food.

An interesting BBC News piece I read argues the real benefits of RFID -- tracking the movement of stock from a manufacturer to your corner grocery store -- could be undermined by the public's perception. Of course, if RFID is used for used for health-harming things like "chipping" farm animals, I can't imagine many people would be pleased if they knew more about it.

Even some experts, including Internet guru Vint Cerf, remain wary about what manufacturers are really after: Collecting stock data or personal information.

One possible and sensible solution -- at least for non-food items -- that may eliminate privacy concerns, according to a European commissioner: Deactivate the codes on chips after customers purchase items from a store.

BBC News April 8, 2006

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