Tales of the Sausage Factory: RFID– Are Smart Clothes a Smart Idea

Most folks have yet to hear of RFID, or radio frequency ID tags. As explained in this article in The Nation, RFID opens a host of interesting issues.

RFID is the classic double edged sword of technology. On the one hand, it offers companies a cheap way to track invenotry, potentially saving millions. It offers a way to keep tabs on your pet and, perhaps even more important in an age when every parent’s worst nightmare is played out on the news with distressing regularity, your children.

But the flip side raises its share of very real concerns. Do we really want “smart clothes” capable of reporting back our every move to data miners or to federal watch dogs? Should we allow your spouse to bug your shaving kit to see where you really go on those “business trips?” What about your boss to track whether you’re really working when you telecommute?

Complicated issues to be sure, and not easily answerable by either a “regulate” or “don’t regulate” mantra.

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. I should be illegal to sell/deploy/whatever products containsing RFIDs unless:

    — they are explicitly labled as containing RFIDs,

    — it is trivially easy to nuke them, and,

    — it is possible to veryify that they have been nuked.

    If we still had a 4th amendment in this country it would probably be easy for a legally trained person to mount a constitutional challenge to government use of such things, and to write controlling legislation. Alas. . .

  2. Give me a world in which the technology is available to me, where I have the freedom to create applications using it, and in which our culture and institutions are actively opposed to using these for the nasty purposes.

  3. i think all these smart clothes will make us lazy, and im a teenager and i wouldn’t want my parents to be able to tap into what im doing or saying, or even where i am. it would be too much like publicising yourself.

  4. seriously, but not only parents. anyone could do all that and even more. the smart clothes would make us robots in a way. heck i bet there could be a way to shut you down or something. kill you. not cool.

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