[LINK] RFID & Privacy

Geoff Ramadan gramadan at umd.com.au
Wed Oct 25 10:56:36 AEST 2006

Jan Whitaker wrote:
> At 12:00 AM 25/10/2006, Geoffrey Ramadan wrote:
>>> So, an industry code of ethics limit of 16 characters for human tags
>>> would be fine then.
>> Memory on RFID tags is very limited anyway. And more so on passive tags
>> Also, not all tags have memory, only ID.
>> Though I  can  imagine there is some value in having  user r/w memory
> So what sort of chips would be used in your example of the large group 
> that wants to track children? Surely they would have to have memory and 
> would be writable. Or are you saying these are one time issue things, 
> like an ID card? Or single purpose, for the specific event like name 
> badges issued with a texta on a card, only a chip is on the card and you 
> don't need a texta any more?


This is a common missconception that people have about RFID, Barcoding and even 
Mag Cards, is the amount of memory on the device.

It only has a non-significant unique ID number.

This number is used to link to a database which holds the personal information.

In this mode it is a very efficient barcode.

Also thinking about it also protects privacy. Unless you have the database, the 
number is meaningless.

Some passive tags have additional user r/w memory. This is also very limited as 
this add cost, consumes power, and actually takes a long time to write data too 
(each bit has to be set).

Our advise is always not to use r/w memory unless you really have too. A good 
example being where you do not have access to a database, but need to make a 

I this case, it is only used as an identifier.

I can tell you a funny story about a person that wanted to buy a mag card reader 
from us and charge people at shopping centers $1 to read *all* the data on their 
medicare card  and provide a print out with pages and pages of all this secret 
data. The medicare card only hold the medicare number, as printed on the card. 
Needless to say, this project did not go ahead.


Geoffrey Ramadan, B.E.(Elec)
Chairman, Automatic Data Capture Australia (www.adca.com.au)
Managing Director, Unique Micro Design (www.umd.com.au)

> Jan Whitaker
> JLWhitaker Associates, Melbourne Victoria
> jwhit at janwhitaker.com
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