RFID Takes a Spotlight

By eweek  |  Posted 2004-03-29 Print this article Print

RFID Takes a Spotlight

Radio-frequency id tags emerged as a big theme at CeBIT, with developers of business application software, mobile phones and security software demonstrating new offerings that use RFID technology.

Nokia Corp. launched its Mobile RFID Kit, designed to turn the Nokia 5140 GSM mobile phone into an RFID reader for field force personnel. Enterprise software vendors SAP AG and PeopleSoft both announced technologies that would allow their respective customers to integrate RFID data into their business applications.

RSA Security Inc., a pioneer in RFID, demonstrated a prototype called the RFID Blocker Tag at the show. The tag can be placed over an RFID tag on a product to block it from transmitting information. Company officials said the Blocker Tag could be used at a checkout counter to block the RFID tag of a purchased item from transmitting information after the purchase.

During a lively panel debate at CeBIT, a privacy advocate worried that RFID tags could track customers behavior after they purchase a tagged product. Those customers who carry loyalty or rewards cards for a particular retailer could unwittingly be tracked and personally identifiable as soon as they enter a store, the advocate warned.

Business leaders speaking at the discussion didnt agree. Art Coviello, CEO and president of San Francisco-based RSA, stressed that the RFID privacy issue is "not black and white." Coviello said the technology has advantages for both businesses and consumers, while conceding that use of the technology raises legitimate privacy issues.


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