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The Dallas Morning News reports on the recent RFID World conference, at which the issue of consumer privacy concerns received considerable attention. In the keynote address, Texas Instruments vice president Julie England urged attendees not to ignore these worries.

“The key to success is finding this right balance between privacy protection and the appropriate use of data," she said, noting that whatever the advantages of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to business, consumers “have the right to know whether a tag is embedded in the product, the right to have RFID tags removed or deactivated when the products are purchased, the right to opt out of RFID-enabled services, the right to access the RFID tag's data, and the right to know when, where, and why the tags are being read.”
KC's View:
While a number of speakers at the conference pressed home the points that 1) the technology isn’t as advanced or prevalent as privacy advocates worry it is, and 2) consumers react positively to the advantages offered by RFID, these defenses do not really address the issue wisely advanced by England in her speech.

It actually doesn’t matter what the advantages are for consumers as long as there is major debate about privacy issues. It is up to industry to be a) completely transparent about how RFID is being used, and b) considerate to a fault of consumer misgivings.

Any other approach is foolhardy, because it almost certainly will backfire when someone abuses the technology and creates a minor scandal that threatens to blow up into a major scandal. To assume that this won’t happen is to ignore history. To paraphrase General Carl Von Clausewitz, you need to prepare for what can happen, not what you think will happen.