RFID Privacy and YouWritten by Rich McIver
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) is a tiny wireless technology which has potential to radically transform commerce world. It consists of an inexpensive chip, often smaller than a grain of sand, which can be read up to several meters away. The hope among retailers, is that technology can be used as a next-generation barcode, automating inventory levels, and thus cutting costs for manufacturers and retailers. While technology does offer some potentially remarkable opportunities, it also raises some concerns with regard to individual privacy and corporate espionage.
While barcode-type RFID tags are not likely to reach consumers on a regular basis in near future, there is little doubt that with success of early trials, they eventually will. Consequently, concerns about privacy infringement with regard to RFID are important not only in theoretical sphere, but increasingly such discussions have vital practical applications.
SPECIFIC PRIVACY CONCERNS
RFID tags differ from conventional barcode tags in a number of ways. It is these differences that create benefit of adopting technology, while simultaneously creating greatest concern over privacy issues involved. For example, under today's bar code technology, a pack of Wrigley's Gum sold in Houston, Texas has same barcode as a pack sold in New York City or Ontario. With RFID, however, each pack would have a unique ID code which could be tied to purchaser of that gum when they use an 'item registration system' such as a frequent shopper card or a credit card.
Continuing with Gum example, purchaser could then be tracked if he/she ever entered that same store again, or perhaps more frightening, if they entered any other store with RFID reading capability. Because unlike a barcode, RFID can be read at a distance of up to a few yards. Meaning that if you enter a store with a pack of gum in your pocket, reader can identify that pack of gum, time and date you bought it, where you bought it, and how frequently you come into store. If you used a credit card or a frequent shopper card to purchase it, manufacturer and store could also tie that information to your name, address, and email. You could then receive targeted advertisements by gum companies as you walk down aisle, or receive mailings through your e-mail or snail mail about other products.
As technology behind RFID advances, potential for privacy infringement does as well. A more recent development is a study which reveals that RFID already has capability to determine distance of a tag from reader location. With such technology already available, it is not difficult to imagine a situation in which retailers could determine location of individuals within their store, and thus target specific advertisements to that customer based upon past purchases. In effect, that store would be creating a personal log of your past purchases, your shopping patterns, and ultimately your behavioral patters. While such information gathering would be considered intrusive enough by many consumer's standards, danger that such information could be sold to other retailers, (similar to way such profiles are currently sold regarding internet commerce), could create potentially devastating information vulnerabilities. While some RFID critics have pointed out that technology could lead to some sort of corporate 'Big Brother' there is a more widespread concern that allowing RFID to develop without legal restrictions will eliminate possibility for consumers to refuse to give such information to retailers.
The Calling Card AlternativeWritten by Robert Mann
How many times have you complained about high long distance costs and phone companies overcharging you? Did you try to do anything about it? Did you search for alternate solutions? Calling cards might be answer. Their low rates to any destination make them perfect buy for domestic and international calls.
For a few years now, calling cards business is booming. Everywhere you go, everywhere you search you might find one: in WallMarts, grocery stores, newspaper stands, vending machines in coffee shops. But place you can find most of these long distance alternatives is internet. A quick search on Google, Yahoo or other search engines will reveal thousands of websites that sell calling cards. So, itís an easy pick, one might say. WellÖ not quite. According to FCC, almost 70% of calling card businesses are fraudulent. Meaning mostly that they get your money but you donít get calling card. That means that you have to be very careful when choosing a website to buy from. On top of that, calling cards vary in number and features, so you have to choose one appropriate to your needs. Their low rates however, come with a price at times. Companies selling calling cards use VoIP technology and other third party carriers to complete their calls. While not as expensive as a satellite connection (hence low rates), this technology is at beginning, so problems may occur from time to time. This is why calling cards are not usually recommended for emergency calls. For calls within United States however, calls made with calling cards (also known as phone cards) have a good quality and connection rate, given that you have found a good supplier.