RSA Keeps RFID Private

By Dennis Fisher  |  Posted 2004-02-23 Email Print this article Print


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RSA's "Blocker Tag" will prevent access to radio-frequency identification tags by eavesdroppers.

RSA Security Inc. will unveil a finished version of its RFID "Blocker Tag" technology that prevents radio-frequency identification tags from being read.

The technology, which RSA plans to demonstrate at its namesake conference this week in San Francisco, is one of the industry's first attempts to secure the anticipated oceans of consumer tracking data to be gathered by the tiny radio-powered tags. As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Gillette Co. press on with massive RFID rollouts, tags are expected to be attached, in increasing numbers, to all kinds of products, including manufactured goods, food and apparel.

According to company researchers and security experts, RSA blocker technology could have a profound and positive effect on the budding RFID industry, which has been drawing intensifying criticism from civil libertarians and consumer advocates over privacy concerns.

"There is a huge privacy issue because you can't ever verify that the tag has been killed when [customers] leave the store," said Randy Breault, manager of information security services at Hannaford Bros. Co., a grocery chain based in Portland, Maine, that is in the early stages of planning an RFID implementation in its warehouses. "That's the reason that we're starting slow with it and doing it at the pallet level. You're dealing with a lot of negative potential at the item level."

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