What is RFID?
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.