Civil liberties groups (among others) have become increasingly concerned about the use of RFIDs to track the movements of individuals. For example, passports will soon be required to contain some sort of RFID device to speed border crossings. Scanners placed throughout an airport, for example, could track the location of every passport over time, from the moment you left the parking lot to the moment you got on your plane.
In June, the Japanese government passed a draft RFID Privacy Guideline that stated the following:
- Indication that RFID tags exist
- Consumers right of choice regarding reading tags
- Sharing information about social benefits of RFID, etc.
- Issues on linking information on tags and databases that store privacy information.
- Restrictions of information gathering and uses when private information is stored on tags
- Assuring accuracy of information when private information is stored on tags
- Information administrators should be encouraged
- Information sharing and explanation for consumers
There are also concerns about the fact that, even after you leave the store, any RFID devices in the things you buy are still active. This means that a thief could walk past you in the mall and know exactly what you have in your bags, marking you as a potential victim. A thief could even circle your house with an RFID scanner and pull up data on what you have in your house before he robs it.
Military hardware and even clothing make use of RFID tags to help track each item through the supply chain. Some analysts are concerned that, if there are particular items associated with high-level officers, roadside bombs could be set to go off when triggered by an RFID scan of cars going by.
There was a recent report revealing clandestine tests at a Wal-Mart store where RFID tags were inserted in packages of lipstick, with scanners hidden on nearby shelves. When a customer picked up a lipstick and put it in her cart, the movement of the tag was registered by the scanners, which triggered surveillance cameras. This allowed researchers 750 miles away to watch those consumers as they walked through the store, looking for related items.