Commentary

RFID, or The Next Source of Anti-Tech Hysteria

As of the middle of this year, at least 17 states were considering legislation to limit the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, up from 12 in 2005, according to an article “Rage Against RFID” in Washington Technology. “People have this Hollywood view of RFID as being a chip implanted in a person, like in the movie ‘Mission Impossible III,’ and that person can be tracked by a helicopter five miles away,” Patrick Sweeney, CEO of Odin Technologies Inc. of Wilton, Conn., told reporter Ethan Butterfield. “That tends to scare people, and it gives them the wrong image.” RFID chips are tiny microprocessors that, when activated by a nearby scanner, transmit previously embedded information. Despite all fears, no one has yet succeeded in forcibly implanting RFID chips in people, not even prison inmates or convicted child predators, two groups most often mentioned as candidates. At the same time, RFID technology is very much with us, especially in the product supply chain, and the sky has not fallen on privacy.

Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.