Chipless RFID

An Israeli company called InkSure has reported approval of a patent for a conductive printable ink that can be used to produce “chipless RFID.” The goal price per chip for RFID has been five cents a piece. This technology can produce “printed” RFIDs five for a penny. Essentially, this development will allow for “every stick of gum and condom packet on the planet” to be tracked. We’re talking about an order of magnitude leap in RFID capability if InkSure pans out.

Okay, so we (may) have this fancy new technology. Now what messes will we create because we don’t really have the plan to deal with it? Or, more likely, what effect will this technology have because the people who do have a plan probably aren’t the ones you want to have a plan? Privacy advocates should be very alarmed. Marketers and spies should be giddy.

For starters, will radio frequency blockers (soon to be a growth industry) become illegal under some version of the Patriot Act? Will it be illegal for your neighbor to obtain an RFID scanner and determine the contents of your home? Will police need a warrant to use one? Will the container industry boom? I can see privacy-minded folks immediately emptying contents of store-bought packaging into their own generic containers. The mind boggles at the implications of universal RFID.

Such a technology has great potential benefit as well. I just wonder who’s asking the questions that need to be asked. And who’s providing the answers.

Me, I’m sort of resigned to the fact that in my lifetime privacy will go away as we know it. Just like retirement and America’s superpower status.

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