Ryan J. Foley writes from Madison, WI:
What makes UW-Madison’s lab unique is its collaboration with industry and its focus on the physics and engineering behind the technology, said Sweeney, who has visited other RFID labs elsewhere.
Critics worry, however, that UW-Madison is contributing to technology that could ultimately track humans.
One such fear involves the use of tags in clothing and shoes. If the chips aren’t deactivated at the time of sale, unsuspecting consumers might essentially be carrying around information about their buying habits, allowing stores to target them with intrusive marketing pitches the next time they visit.
“When I see the move of RFID into universities, it concerns me,” said Katherine Albrecht, a privacy advocate who specializes in RFID technology and shoppers. “It is sending a message that not only do we not have to worry about privacy but you can profit from it by a career perspective.”