Informed Consent: Ethical Considerations of RFID

Written by Dennis and Sally Bacchetta

Continued from page 1

The most disturbing aspect ofrepparttar project was Wal-Mart’s emphatic denial that they had secretly photographed their customers. They weren’t confused. They didn’t make a mistake. They chose to lie. It was only after Albrecht exposedrepparttar 133336 evidence that Wal-Mart finally admitted conductingrepparttar 133337 pilot tests in an effort to combat shoplifting and employee theft. After all,repparttar 133338 argument goes, this type of inventory shrinkage costs U.S. retailers as much as $32 billion each year. 2 Don’t feel too sorry for our friends in blue. The bill for this hefty loss is passed on to you and me).

The public was unmoved by Wal-Mart’s defense, andrepparttar 133339 project has been aborted. At least for now. Wal-Mart’s smiley face logo beliesrepparttar 133340 arrogance wrought by its success, and we will likely seerepparttar 133341 photographic “smart shelf” again. Or it will see us, anyway.

Wal-Mart is somewhat like a spoiled child, a casualty of indulgence, who is accustomed to doing quite what he wants when he wants to and rarely anything that he doesn’t. It hardly seems fair to expectrepparttar 133342 child to accept “no” when he only vaguely recognizesrepparttar 133343 word, and even less so, it’s finality

Bear in mind that RFID does not create opportunities for consumer profiling. We do. Every time we enter a store we expose ourselves to scrutiny. Every time we purchase goods or utilize a service we are assimilated, Borg-like, intorepparttar 133344 collective revenue stream. Everything costs something.

Worldwide spending on RFID is expected to top $3 billion by 2008, almost triplerepparttar 133345 market of a year ago. 3 Wal-Mart’s decree that its top 100 suppliers must be RFID compliant by 2005 toldrepparttar 133346 rest ofrepparttar 133347 world to either get onrepparttar 133348 train or get offrepparttar 133349 track. The U.S. Department of Defense has since issued a similar mandate, and falling technology prices coupled withrepparttar 133350 establishment of uniform RFID communication standards are making it easier for other industries to dorepparttar 133351 same.

The War on Drugs

It’s no longer enough to just say no torepparttar 133352 schoolyard crack jockeys. We have new enemies inrepparttar 133353 war on drugs. Our increasing reliance on chemical relief — born of a pervasive spiritual poverty as much as our aging demographic— has made us attractive to drug counterfeiters.

Counterfeit drugs are sub-potent or inert imposter pills that are channeled intorepparttar 133354 prescription drug pipeline and sold as legitimate medication. The World Health Organization estimates that in less-developed countries as many as half of all prescription drugs dispensed are counterfeit. 4 The economic cost to defrauded and dying consumers is staggering. And it is almost meaningless compared torepparttar 133355 emotional cost.

In February 2004repparttar 133356 U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Counterfeit Drug Task Force released its report “Combating Counterfeit Drugs”. FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan directedrepparttar 133357 group’s six month review of America’s prescription drug channels.

Its conclusion? The supply of prescription drugs inrepparttar 133358 United States is overwhelmingly safe. The FDA’s complex system of regulatory oversight insures that with rare exception,repparttar 133359 pills we pop have been manufactured torepparttar 133360 highest standards of purity and potency, distributed safely and dispensed asrepparttar 133361 doctor ordered.

However, later inrepparttar 133362 same report McClellan warns that drug counterfeiters are better organized and more technologically sophisticated than ever before. According to McClellan,repparttar 133363 FDA’s current system can not meetrepparttar 133364 evolving challenges ofrepparttar 133365 new century, and he recommends full-scale implementation of RFID technology by 2006. 5

Without question, RFID is a more formidable guardian than our present paper-based drug audit system. The savviest saboteur will find RFID tags extremely difficult to counterfeit and almost impossible to do so at a profit. EPCs afford flawless accountability, which is a distinct impediment to illegal diversions and substitutions. And no doubt every overworked, carpal tunnel-strained pharmacist would welcome RFID’s promise of tighter inventory and simplified service.

Does this justifyrepparttar 133366 enormous expense of a complete system overhaul? Dorepparttar 133367 benefits outweighrepparttar 133368 privacy concerns? Are you comfortable enlisting RFID inrepparttar 133369 battle against drug terrorism?

Before you decide, consider this: The FDA may incorporate “at least two types of anti-counterfeiting technologies intorepparttar 133370 packaging and labeling of all drugs, atrepparttar 133371 point of manufacture, with at least one of those technologies being covert (i.e., not made public, and requiring special equipment or knowledge for detection)...” 6

“Not made public, and requiring special equipment or knowledge for detection”. Hmm... so, RFID tags can be hidden in our prescriptions without our knowledge or consent... and we will be unable to detect or remove them.

Consider, too, that companies inrepparttar 133372 U.S., Canada, Sweden and Denmark have developed electronic blister packs that monitor pill removal and automatically notifyrepparttar 133373 physician’s computer when a patient has dispensed (or neglected to dispense)repparttar 133374 medication as scheduled. 7

Here's a better idea. The FDA should explain how concealing information from me about my prescriptions makesrepparttar 133375 world a safer place. And then they can explain how spying on your medicine cabinet — and tattling to your doctor — thwarts drug counterfeiting.

The FDA’s prime directive is to protect and advancerepparttar 133376 public health. They have done this remarkably well for over 140 years at an annual cost to taxpayers of only about $3 per person. 8 When evaluating any policy changerepparttar 133377 FDA must always preserve that which is most fundamental to its success — indeed, its very existence —repparttar 133378 public trust. RFID may prove vital forrepparttar 133379 continued integrity of our prescription drug pipeline, but never more vital thanrepparttar 133380 continued integrity ofrepparttar 133381 FDA.

RFID is in its spring. These tiny chips, sown by science and nourished richly by corporate support, will burgeon beyond imagination, penetrating our lives likerepparttar 133382 roots of a willow. This isrepparttar 133383 time for discourse. This isrepparttar 133384 time to shore our boundaries. If we cederepparttar 133385 opportunity to deliberate, we accept surveillance as a norm. Our indifference will do nothing to stem its growth.

Endnotes 1. 2. 3. Jennifer Maselli, “ABI:RFID Market Poised for Growth,” RFID Journal July 18,2003. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Copyright ©2005 by Dennis and Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.

Dennis Bacchetta is a Marketing Professional who writes on a variety of topics, including emerging technologies.

Sally Bacchetta is an award-winning sales trainer and freelance writer.

Contact her at or visit her website at

Intranet? What intranet?

Written by Dominic Lachance

Continued from page 1

Other information channels are faster: If you can find out information elsewhere faster, there is obviously a problem. For instance, if you can get some one’s phone number by consulting a paper directory. Once employees realize that info is too hard to find in your intranet (they will come to this conclusion rather quickly) they will rely on other sources makingrepparttar intranet a futile exercise. Intranet information is not up-to-date: Because intranets compete with other information channels, they must be extremely timely. Once employees realize that information onrepparttar 133335 intranet is not timely and not reliable, they will abandon it. Again, you are then wasting your time maintaining an intranet. Too many wide distribution list e-mails: If your organization is relying e-mails sent to everyone to inform employees, you are not using your intranet effectively. Too much reliance on paper: Yes, most offices have more paper than ever before and it’s usually hoarded into each employee’s cubicle. This is very wasteful. Document version control problems: Is thisrepparttar 133336 right form? Is thisrepparttar 133337 final version of this report? If this has been said often enough then maybe a more effective use ofrepparttar 133338 intranet would be in order. Inefficient administrative procedures: Are you reliant on paper for documenting administrative activities? Does your organization have different systems that don’t talk to each other? A well-designed Web application onrepparttar 133339 intranet could automate many paper-based administrative activities and represents a cost-effective way of providing access for all desktops. These are just some ofrepparttar 133340 problems we have encountered when evaluatingrepparttar 133341 effectiveness of intranet sites.

Documédia and intranets Documédia has extensive experience in intranet site development. We can ensure that your organization has an effective intranet site that supports your organizational goals and is maintained in a timely and cost-effective manner. We can assist you with designingrepparttar 133342 site architecture, graphic design, buildingrepparttar 133343 site, developing Web applications and even training your staff to maintainrepparttar 133344 site in-house. >> more information about Documedia Intranet and Web Design services

As President and Co-Founder of Documédia, Daniel Guay has over 9 years experience in development and training in the field of Web publishing. Daniel specializes in publishing paper documents and digital files into online formats such as Adobe PDF, HTML and XML for use on the Web, intranets and CD-ROM.Daniel is an Adobe Certified Expert in Adobe Acrobat, Adobe FrameMaker and Adobe GoLive.

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