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03/01/2007 Archived Entry: "Around-the-house (or office) RFID spy devices"

HOW CAN YOU FEEL "SECURE" IN ANY SENSE when perfectly ordinary looking clocks and even staples in your documents may be spying on you?

The spyclock idea is useful mainly in a realm where all trust between people has broken down, and who wants to live in such a realm? (I grant it might also have interesting applications for catching burglars.)

The staple idea (a new product from Swingline) could actually be cool in a society that had more respect for privacy. It's not designed to spy on people, but to help locate missing documents. And who among us hasn't torn our hair out over some Very Important Paper we can't find?

In our present reality, though, you can be certain spy staples will be used not so much to track documents as to track who has sensitive documents and what they're doing with them around the office. Of course anyone with malicious intent could simply remove the staple and get away with heaven knows what. So you can bet RFID-enabled papers will be out by year's end. But of course, anyone with malicious intent could simply copy the document onto non-RFID paper. Which is certainly one reason RIFD powders are now being developed. Just make sure your office buys RFID-containing toner for its copying machines. So the person with malicious intent takes care to make copies at an outside site that doesn't use RFID toner and ...

Do you get a sense that RFID technology is being implemented with too much haste and too little thought?

AFTERTHOUGHT: Markets traditionally supply hard corrections when "haste and too little thought" produce products that don't function well or aren't popular. But it occurs to me that increasingly the buyer of the RFID spy-product and the victim user of the product aren't the same. Those most affected by spy products are those with the least say over them. What kind of market distortion is this going to create? Something akin to the distortions we're so used to with government "services," where even the most egregiously bad ideas live damn near forever and where "unintended consequences" become the norm? Heaven help us all.

(Thank you to the people of CASPIAN for the leads.)

Posted by Claire @ 10:13 AM CST

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