Corporations and government agencies are increasingly subscribing to the new RFID surveillance technology. The objective is to assign an identifiable number to all manufactured items and track them across international borders while operating remotely on an integrated worldwide network (Albrecht, 2005). RFID chips are microchips (some small as a grain of salt) used to track objects remotely. Currently, RFID chips are purported to be used to track pets, personal identification, and used in packaging (Rockwell, 2006).
Developments are underway to use RFID chips for tracking people to improve business processes, according to Health Management Data (Schuerenberg, 2008). An RFID tag is comprised of three components in two combinations: a receiver and antenna combined as an RFID reader. A responder and antenna combined to create an RFID tag. An RFID tag can be read when a reader releases a radio signal to activate the responder, which responds by sending data back to the receiver (Harper, 2004).
a. Via direct monitoring by marketers, manufacturers, retailers, sales agents, government, police, hospitals, and street cameras. For instance, RFID could be used to track a customer's purchases by creating a profile of the customer's shopping habits, returns, interests and desires.
b. Via indirect monitoring by third parties such as hackers and criminals. For instance, a hacker breaks and enters into an RFID network and uses existing tags to remotely collect sensitive information with a scanner from hapless, unsuspecting victims (Harper, 2004). An example of identity theft.
Deployment of RFID chips could expose sensitive information to global businesses and government agencies. Companies like Wal-Mart, Target, IBM, JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft, Inc. employ the use of RFID technology. Shopping would be a surreal experience on an entirely new level. While RFID tags are attached to clothing, shoes, wallets, purses, and other personal possession with the result that they could alert hidden reader devices of the presence and value of a consumer while entering a retail operation. Readers hidden in doors, counters, security systems, floors, and ceilings would search for RFID tags to ascertain age, sex and preferences of the consumer. RFID chips embedded in credit and debit cards will readily identify the profile of customers as they do banking. The tags will reveal to bank employees, based on account balances, customers in which to extend preferential treatment (Albrecht, 2005). The obvious consequences for the individual is the uncontrolled and unregulated collection of personal data.
The Law and Protection of Privacy
There are currently two ways in which the US legislatures and courts protect the privacy of the individual. The US Constitution, although it does not specifically speak to privacy, it is construed by the courts in such a way as to guard against intrustions into the privacy of the individual. As will be borne out below, this constitutional right to privacy may not be sufficient to address the capacity of the RFID technology to invade an individual's right to privacy. Data collection in the US is subject to limited protection and again comes back to the question of whether or not there is a reasonable