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RFID – data and privacy

Most of what we define as data or information is what we explicitly create or gather. For example, if I write an article or contribute to a wiki, the resulting information is intentional and a result of active work on my part. When a scientist discovers a cure to a disease, or a new drug to treat or reduce symptoms, the information is again a consequence of intent. Our conversations are similar – we are active, intentional creators of data (I’ll call this first tier information). But we create a second kind of information on a daily basis. Second tier information is a by-product of what we do – our actions and our choices. We are largely not aware of this information. It’s difficult to capture – unless we are hyper self-aware or we are being stalked. This information used to vaporize as it was not embodied in text, images, or any other conceptual or physical product. That’s changing. Facebook – with its Beacon program – follows us and observes our choices, essentially turning our transient information into first tier information. This is a significant development; one that has enormous future implications in privacy and the rights of citizens and corporations. Similar concerns exist with RFID tags and microchips. While RFID tags have substantial opportunities for information aware environments, and a globally connected world of objects, the gleaning of our second tier information by organizations for use in marketing (or tracking) is worrying.

One Comment

  1. Nicola Avery wrote:

    Bath University have beendoing some interesting work with RFID and NFC and security /privacy issues have been brought up eg in seciton 2.4.2 of this paper:
    http://www.cs.bath.ac.uk/pervasive/publications/ReachOutandTouch.pdf

    Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 4:56 am | Permalink