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A Simple Fix For RFID Privacy

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: A Simple Fix For RFID Privacy
2. Today's Top Story
    - USC Hacker Case Pivotal To Future Web Security
3. Breaking News
    - Trade Group Blasts Massachusetts Call For Office Plug-In
    - Sony Allows A Peek At PlayStation 3
    - Survey: Security Hot, Paychecks Not
    - JBoss Steps Up Tools, Spec Efforts
    - Botnet Herder Corralled, Sentenced To 57 Months
    - AOL To Cut 1,300 Jobs
    - For Nintendo, MEMS The Word
    - EMC Acquires Disaster Protection Vendor
    - Music Industry Group Targeting Piracy Hotspots
    - Women, Girls Draw 25 Times More Malicious Chat Messages
    - SAS Expands On-Demand Software Lineup
    - Dell Expands Storage Offerings
    - Alienware Unveils 'Faster Than Wired' Gaming Laptops
    - Handheld Computer Market Up, Prices Down
    - Brief: U.S. Mobile Phone Sales Up As Old Phones Get Tossed
    - Intel, ADT Prep Future Sensor Networks
    - Poll: Men Make Gaming Friends, Women Stay Solo
4. Grab Bag
    - Microsoft Announces Online Gaming Service (BusinessWeek)
    - Q. What Could A Boarding Pass Tell An Identity Fraudster About You? A. Way Too Much (The Guardian)
    - Airlines Try Smarter Boarding (Wired News)
5. In Depth
    - Microsoft Releases Windows CE 6 Beta
    - Microsoft Unveils Four Language-Localized IE7 Betas
    - Microsoft Patches Windows, Exchange
    - Sony Names Prices For Long-Awaited PS3 Consoles
6. Voice Of Authority
    - India's Wage Inflation May Have Outsourcers Looking At Des Moines Over Delhi
7. White Papers
    - Open-Source Software Is More Than Linux: A White Paper From Forrester
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Xerox couldn't market a paper bag to a person holding an armful of eels." -- Steve Carper


1. Editor's Note: A Simple Fix For RFID Privacy

It's always a delight when engineers come up with a simple, obvious-in-retrospect solution to a complex and apparently intractable technology problem.

The problem: RFID tags present privacy risks when misused, allowing consumers to be tracked by thieves and unscrupulous businessmen and government officials. The challenge: Find some way to use RFID when it's appropriate, but disable it when it's no longer needed or wanted. Sure, you can zap the little buggers with some kind of radiation, expose them to hot water, or even smash them with a hammer—RFID tags are fragile little beasties—but how is a consumer to know whether that works?

IBM's solution is brilliantly simple and familiar to anybody who's ever put a stamp on a letter: perforation. IBM last week introduced the Clipped Tag, an RFID tag with a perforation that allows consumers to tear off the antenna when they bring their products home. When the tag is intact, it has the same range as any RFID tag, about 30 feet. After the tag has been clipped, the range is about an inch—still usable if a customer wants a return or exchange and store staff needs to read the tag, but useless to passing thieves and corporate and government busybodies.

The technology comes as retailers start tagging individual consumer items. Levi Strauss is testing RFID on men's jeans sold in one U.S. store and on pants in two stores in Mexico. Levi Strauss hopes the technology will help companies better control inventory for faster restocking and fewer empty shelves.

RFID entails real privacy risks. Thieves using pirated RFID scanners could stand on a street corner and scan people as they go by, looking for targets wearing expensive consumer goods. RFID-enabled passports could help terrorists scan the streets of London or Riyadh, looking for American passersby. And we're all leery of giving unscrupulous businessmen and power-grabbing government officials the ability to invisibly inventory our clothes and pockets.

But RFID also presents the possibility to be a powerful tool for retailers, enabling them to exert more control over their supply chains, keep shelves stocked with a variety of goods, and hold down prices. Those things benefit everyone.

Privacy needs and business concerns seem to be in conflict here, but the conflict can be resolved. Implement RFID, but do it in a way that protects consumer privacy. IBM is off to a good start with the Clipped Tag.

By the way, an earlier article on the Levi Strauss proposal quotes privacy advocates condemning Levi Strauss. I'm not sure what the heck they're worried about. I mean, how can you be concerned about privacy protection for information that's already written on people's butts?

What do you think? Can privacy and RFID be reconciled? Leave a comment on the InformationWeek Weblog and let us know.

Mitch Wagner
mwagner@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

USC Hacker Case Pivotal To Future Web Security
Eric McCarty claims he hacked into the University of Southern California's computer system to warn of its vulnerabilities. The case could be a watershed event in the area of security research.


3. Breaking News

Trade Group Blasts Massachusetts Call For Office Plug-In
The open-source battle over Office continues, with Initiative for Software Choice claiming Massachusetts is unfairly excluding Microsoft.

Sony Allows A Peek At PlayStation 3
The battle of the video game consoles got under way in Los Angeles on Monday when Sony Corp.'s entertainment division gave the world its first glimpse of PlayStation 3.

Survey: Security Hot, Paychecks Not
The people riding the security wave aren't exactly raking in the dough, a new Dark Reading survey suggests.

JBoss Steps Up Tools, Spec Efforts
Enterprises now have test tools and methods to certify that applications can integrate with the JBoss Enterprise Middleware Suite.

Botnet Herder Corralled, Sentenced To 57 Months
The U.S. District Attorney in Los Angeles touted the sentence as "the longest-known sentence for a defendant who spread computer viruses."

AOL To Cut 1,300 Jobs
The layoffs, which represent 7% of the company's workforce, will primarily impact call center staffers.

For Nintendo, MEMS The Word
A novel video game controller uses advanced microelectromechanical systems technology to create a more intuitive user interface.

EMC Acquires Disaster Protection Vendor
Kashya sells appliances that provide disaster recovery and data replication over heterogeneous networks using continuous data protection technology.

Music Industry Group Targeting Piracy Hotspots
Losses due to counterfeiting are costing the music industry more than $300 million per year, according to the RIAA.

Women, Girls Draw 25 Times More Malicious Chat Messages
A university study found that female usernames received more attention, and the nature of the messages was often meaner.

SAS Expands On-Demand Software Lineup
The new software-as-a-service analytical applications are backed by hosted data warehouse systems.

Dell Expands Storage Offerings
The PC maker rolls out systems with higher capacities and faster performance.

Alienware Unveils 'Faster Than Wired' Gaming Laptops
The new laptops feature built-in MIMO wireless technology that can deliver faster-than-Ethernet speeds.

Handheld Computer Market Up, Prices Down
Worldwide shipments of handheld computers rose by 6.6% in the first quarter, while the average selling price dropped.

Brief: U.S. Mobile Phone Sales Up As Old Phones Get Tossed
Motorola continues to lead the U.S. market with a 29% market share, while Bluetooth is the most popular mobile phone feature.

Intel, ADT Prep Future Sensor Networks
The ability to communicate and process data collected from radio frequency identification technology and other types of sensors would enable networks that can hand off information to different infrastructure layers as needed.

Poll: Men Make Gaming Friends, Women Stay Solo
Also, around 40% of those who call themselves gamers play at least three to four hours a week, a new survey says.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In this edition:

John Soat With 'Hardware TV'
Intel unveils "Core 2 Duo," Dell stock tumbles after lowering expectations, Silicon Graphics files for bankruptcy, and more.

Laurie Sullivan With 'Oracle Is Intelligence-Driven'
Oracle's John Wookey discusses the future of Business Intelligence.

Larry Greenemeier With 'Fetch, Firewall, Fetch!'
Data security is in the news again after a massive unexplained breach at the University of Texas.


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4. Grab Bag

Microsoft Announces Online Gaming Service (BusinessWeek)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday announced a new cross-platform gaming service that integrates games played on cell phones, Xbox 360 consoles, and the upcoming Windows Vista operating system.

Q. What Could A Boarding Pass Tell An Identity Fraudster About You? A. Way Too Much (The Guardian)
A simple airline stub, picked out of a bin near Heathrow, led Steve Boggan to investigate a shocking breach of security.

Airlines Try Smarter Boarding (Wired News)
Forget back-to-front loading. Computer simulations produce a range of better boarding procedures that minimize passenger interference and get fliers in the air faster.(But first class stills boards first.)


5. In Depth

Microsoft Releases Windows CE 6 Beta
The upgraded operating system, meant for embedded devices, increases the number of simultaneously running processes from 32 to 32,000, enabling the creation of more powerful devices and applications.

Microsoft Unveils Four Language-Localized IE7 Betas
Microsoft released Arabic, Finnish, Japanese, and German versions of its still-under-development IE7 Beta 2 browser.

Microsoft Patches Windows, Exchange
In the usual array of Tuesday patches was one for a third-party product, Adobe's Flash player.

Sony Names Prices For Long-Awaited PS3 Consoles
Sony will have to justify the higher price for the PlayStation 3 as it battles Microsoft's Xbox 360 for leadership in next-generation game consoles.


6. Voice Of Authority

India's Wage Inflation May Have Outsourcers Looking At Des Moines Over Delhi
Paul McDougall says he met with TCS CEO S. Ramadorai at the company's London offices across the street from Buckingham Palace. Not a bad location if you want to create the impression you're in business for the long haul. TCS, with quarter after quarter of double-digit gains in revenue and profits, clearly is. But there's one thing that could derail the $3 billion company's plans to become a $10 billion company by 2012. It could also put the whole offshore equation in doubt.


7. White Papers

Open-Source Software Is More Than Linux: A White Paper From Forrester
Open source established its credibility with software like bind and DHCPd, which anchor the Internet, and the Apache Web server, which now hosts 64% of all public Web sites. To learn about companies' experience with open-source software, Forrester interviewed 50 IT managers and execs at $1B+ North American companies that use open-source software.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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