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RFID

Pew Survey Offers Further Evidence of the Privacy Panic Cycle

The Pew Research Center released a survey last week that investigated the circumstances under which many U.S. citizens would share their personal information in return for getting something of perceived value. In the survey, Pew set up six hypothetical scenarios about different technologies—including office surveillance cameras, health data, retail loyalty cards, auto insurance, social media, and smart thermostats—and asked respondents whether the tradeoff they were offered for sharing their personal information was acceptable.

To be sure, some of the questions that Pew asked described one-sided tradeoffs that could have tainted the findings. Nevertheless, the overall results reveal that the Privacy Panic Cycle, the usual trajectory of public fear followed by widespread acceptance that often accompanies new technologies, is still going strong for many technologies.

The Privacy Panic Cycle explains how privacy concerns about new technologies flare up in the early years, but over time as people use, understand, and grow accustomed to these technologies, the concerns recede. For example, when the first portable Kodak camera first came out, it caused a big privacy panic, but today most people carry around phones in their pockets and do not give

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RFID chip

RFID: Readily Forced Information Distortion

The sign of a civilization in decline is when there is widespread fear of the future and longing for the past.   While America may not yet be in decline we are certainly fearing the future.   Case in point, California’s decision to back off its deployment of drivers’ licenses with embedded radio-frequency identification chips (RFID) in them.   RFID chips are small electronic devices embedded with a unique code that communicates with an electronic reader usually within a range of 1 to 2 inches.

We can thank the privacy-fundamentalists for this, for they love nothing better than to spread fear based on misinformation about technology.  As supposedly pro-tech Wired Magazine writes, this is “spy-friendly technology.”  The article claims that “Privacy advocates worry that, if more states begin embracing RFID, the licenses could become mandatory nationwide and evolve into a government-run surveillance tool to track the public’s movements.”   It goes on to say “law enforcement already monitors drivers’ whereabouts via the mass deployment of license-plate readers. But the ability to scan for identification cards in public areas could evolve into another surveillance tool.”

That sure scares me.   I don’t want the

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