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Researchers in Amsterdam say they have completed a device that prevents radio
frequency identification tags from being read. The university professor overseeing the
project says the goal is to protect people from a technology that is gaining wide
acceptance but has the potential to compromise consumer privacy.
and clothing from T-shirts to shoes. They're being used tomoni tor vehicle traffic, track inventory and livestock, identify missing pets, and help pharmaceutical companies fight counterfeit drugs.
"Industry thinks nothing about invading your privacy," Tanenbaum said. "European banks
plan to put RFID in money, larger bills. That means a robber can walk down the street
with a scanner to find out how much money you have in your pocket and determine who
will make the best target."
The RFID Guardian runs on a 550-Mhz XScale 32-bit processor with 64MB of Ram that
functions as the central nervous systems. XScales are often found in PDA and cellular
phones, said Tanenbaum. The protocol stack was written inC to run on top of eCos, an
open-source operating system.
Tanenbaum and a team of students are working on further developing the software,
looking into building multiple protocol stacks that can run on the device. Plans also
include fully debugging the device and securing the communication channel between the
device and readers. Tanenbaum envisions spending the next few months debugging and
preparing the device for commercial use.
Forrester Research Inc. principal analyst Christine Overby, who follows RFID in the
retail industry, said these types of devices points to a need for consumer privacy, but "I
don't think you'll see any mainstream adoption."
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