RFID Firm Turns To Google For Image Campaign - InformationWeek
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11/1/2005
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RFID Firm Turns To Google For Image Campaign

A firm is paying Google an undisclosed sum to make available on its sponsored search pages some white papers that paint an upbeat picture of all things having to do with RFID technology.

Companies trying to influence public opinion once shelled out big bucks for full-page advertisements in major newspapers, but today they may be as likely to spend those dollars on sponsored links on Google.

One such case in point is RFID Ltd., a pro-RFID industry firm that is paying Google an undisclosed sum to publish several papers on the search engine that paint an upbeat picture of all-things having to do with RFID technology. More specifically, the papers are intended to refute allegations detailed in a recently released book called "Spychips," which paints a less than friendly view of how radio frequency identification technology is affecting consumer privacy. The authors -- Katherine Albrecht, founder of the privacy advocacy group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), and consumer privacy advocate Liz McIntyre -- co-authored the book released on Oct. 4.

"This is terrifying stuff. Companies have laid out some outlandish plans for RFID technology and no one knows about them, so when you're sitting on information you feel a responsibility to tell people," Albrecht said.

"Spychips" tries to explain RFID technology -- its history and future -- along with strategies by businesses and government to imbed the technology in everything from postage stamps to shoes to people, and spy on Americans without knowledge or consent. It also urgently encourages consumers to take action to protect their privacy and civil liberties.

Obviously, RFID Ltd., which decribes itself on its web site as a system integrator and RFID consulting business, holds a dramatically different opinion than that of the book authors. Indeed, RFID Ltd. is prepared to financially invest "as much as it takes" to publish several papers on RFID technology, said Nicholas Chavez, president at RFID Ltd. He views the group's escalating their opinion campaign on Google as representing "the evolution of information warfare."

"There are people that disagree on a fundamental level to what these authors have written," he said.

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