It’s interesting to see how RFID — the technology behind product tagging that I’ve banged on about here before — enflames passions. News on ZDNET that chipmaker Texas Instruments has announced a wireless identity chip for clothing which can survive the dry cleaning process has unleashed dozens of comments, most of them about the potential for tracking folk and abusing their privacy.
The Laundry Transponder, from TI Radio Frequency Identification Systems, is a thin 13.56MHz radio frequency identification (RFID) chip with a circumference of 22mm that can be attached or sewn into fabric. Its plastic casing is capable of withstanding industrial cleaning processes, making it practical for dry cleaners to track items through to customer delivery, ZDNET says. But more interesting are the comments that follow the article (scroll down to the bottom to read them). Steel yourself for some forthright language.
What we need is a reasoned debate on both sides so everyone knows what they’re dealing with. That may be about to happen, at least in the UK: ZDNET quotes Labour MP Tom Watson as saying he has submitted a motion for parliamentary debate on the regulation of RFID devices, and is confident that it will be debated in September.