IBM's Privacy-Friendly RFID Tag Ready For Production - InformationWeek

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Hardware & Infrastructure

IBM's Privacy-Friendly RFID Tag Ready For Production

IBM granted the first manufacturing license for its RFID Clipped Tag, designed to let consumers remove RFID antennas from clothing, prescription drugs, and other items they've just purchased.

IBM's answer to privacy concerns about RFID tags: tear them off. The company last week said it has its first manufacturing agreement for its Clipped Tag, which is designed with an antenna that's as easy to remove as ripping a piece of paper.

Churn out those tags

Churn out those tags

Photo by Fred Prouser/Reuters
That would let retailers put on unpurchased merchandise a tag that could be read at a distance for inventory and other uses. Once bought, the ripped tag could be read only from inches away, making it useful for returns but not a security risk. Some worry tags that can be read from up to 30 feet create risks, with thieves using RFID scanners to lie in wait and rob buyers.

IBM, of course, hasn't convinced skeptics like Katherine Albrecht, co-author of anti-RFID book Spychips (Nelson Current; 2005), who says once item-level tagging leads to an infrastructure for such individualized data, people will misuse it in ways that violate privacy.

IBM's manufacturing licensee, Marnlen RFID, still needs to find business customers for the tags. But IBM, ever the hipster, has done an informational YouTube video on them.

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