What are RFID tags?

The move from an Internet of people to the “Internet of things” means that many appliances would come with unique Internet protocol addresses and wireless communication applications. How these devices might be used to collect information on their use, and who would have access to that information, and for what purpose is still unknown. The key to privacy protection is to have the user maintain control over the collection, use, reuse, and sharing of personal information including their use of electricity.

What is RFID?

From Wikipedia:

RFID chip next to a grain of rice

RFID chip next to a grain of rice. This chip contains a radio-frequency electromagnetic field coil that modulates an external magnetic field to transfer a coded identification number when queried by a reader device. This small type is incorporated in consumer products, and even implanted in pets, for identification.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. Some tags require no battery and are powered by the electromagnetic fields used to read them. Others use a local power source and emit radio waves (electromagnetic radiation at radio frequencies). The tag contains electronically stored information which can be read from up to several meters (yards) away. Unlike a bar code, the tag does not need to be within line of sight of the reader and may be embedded in the tracked object.

RFID tags are used in many industries. An RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line. Pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses. Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal. RFID identity cards can give employees access to locked areas of a building, and RF transponders mounted in automobiles can be used to bill motorists for access to toll roads or parking.

Since RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions, or even implanted within people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised privacy concerns.

The types of personally identifiable information that may be collected include

  • details on battery charging information, i.e. amount of life remaining, date, time, location of last recharge, etc;
  • type of personal device;
  • a unique item identification number as well as personalized information, i.e. user name, address etc;
  • location where the item was recharged as well as how long the device was connected to the power source.

Initially the information collection may be limited to very basic information, but over time these technologies will mature, which may not be apparent to users as they upgrade technology.


3 Responses to What are RFID tags?

  1. Smart Meter Resistance September 22, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    RFID chips can be tracked using the New America Electric Smart Meter Grid. Smart electric meter at everyones home and businesses work together to form a nation wide network of RIDF tracking stations. Watching a waiting for orders from the government.


  1. Take Action: Urge Companies to Manufacture non RFID Appliances | Maryland Smart Meter Awareness - July 24, 2012

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  2. The Internet of Things | Maryland Smart Meter Awareness - July 3, 2012

    […] the world are about to enter the next phase of their development. A near invisible network of radio frequency identification tags (RFID) is being deployed on almost every type of consumer item. These tiny, traceable chips, which can be […]

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