RFID at Tech Ed

Robin Wilton from Sun wrote to comment on “Just a few scanning machines“. He says:

I was invited to attend Microsoft Tech Ed 2005 in Amsterdam this year. One of the first things the warm-up presenter told us was that we'd all been RFID-tagged.


  1. as I say, we were all told in the opening session;
  2. it was made clear to us that the RFID tag numbers were not cross-referenced to our names.

So, for instance, when a couple of raffle winners were announced at the end of that session, only their RFID tag numbers were displayed on screen – it was up to us to check our own badges.

Robin then refer's to another comment on the post by Felipe Connill:

Pretty crazy that [the organizers of the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference – Kim] did this [tracked conference participants using bluetooth – Kim] without notifying everyone. But it really drives the point that people [and] equipment manufacturers need to start applying the laws of identity or if not our privacy is going to be invaded at every point.

Robin concludes:

Felipe's comment is spot on: had we not been told, none of us would have known we'd been tagged. This is absolutely a policy and implementation issue, not a technology one. Policy and implementation have to be based on a clear understanding of the subject's relevant rights to privacy and informed consent.

Robin is such a gentleman. But this kind of demonstration makes me scratch my head. What exactly were we trying to achieve? I suppose the idea must have been to show how powerful this new technology is. The demo sure accomplishes that! Maybe the idea was to give everyone the creeps so they would think about how not to use RFID tags. That's a novel approach for a product launch. Novelty is important. Anyway, I'll find out one day, and I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, it goes to show how much work we have left to do in getting a wider set of people to think about the relationship between identity and technology, especially tracking technologies. We haven't gotten the message out clearly enough.

To be continued…

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.