Privacy concerns, some RFID supporters say, are overblown. One, Mark Roberti, editor of RFID Journal, says the notion that businesses would conspire to create high-resolution portraits of people is "simply silly."
Corporations know Americans are sensitive about their privacy, he says, and are careful not to alienate consumers by violating it. Besides, "All companies keep their customer data close to the vest ... There's absolutely no value in sharing it. Zero."
but wait...However, "once a tagged item is associated with a particular individual, personally identifiable information can be obtained and then aggregated to develop a profile," the U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded in a 2005 report on RFID.
Federal agencies and law enforcement already buy information about individuals from commercial data brokers, companies that compile computer dossiers on millions of individuals from public records, credit applications and many other sources, then offer summaries for sale. These brokers, unlike credit bureaus, aren't subject to provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, which gives consumers the right to correct errors and block access to their personal records.
IBM declined to comment for this story.
In 2002, Fleishman-Hillard produced another report for the industry that counseled RFID makers to "convey (the) inevitability of technology," and to develop a plan to "neutralize the opposition," by adopting friendlier names for radio tags such as "Bar Code II" and "Green Tag."