Friday, July 29, 2005

This is exactly what I was talking about

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about Radio Frequency Identification or better known in the indutry as RFID. I mentioned the fact that it was too Orwellian for me. These little chips placed in packaging track the packages lifespan. From production plant to store inventory to store shelf to consumer to consumer's home. It is then tracked how long it sits on the shelf at the consumer's home. All this is done through satellite transmissions. Creepy!

So today I open my Food Production Daily update and read: According to ABI Research the RFID industry is due to undergo a shakeup in the next 6-9 months. Why? Better inventory management? Better tags and readers? Better software to handle transport info? No on each account. The number one reason given for the shakeout ABI believes many companies are only now realizing that data management is key to the technology rather than the tags and readers, previously regarded as the "business end" of RFID. Ick. I knew they would want to manipulate the data more than offer a service. It is exacty that type of statement which really bothers me. With the breach recently made public with financial data information, do we really trust someone else keeping our buying habits private?

What if you are a struggling corporation with specific needs in production you don't want your competitors to know about? I have a friend who works for a large food production company. When you go visit him at work, you first must have permission to be there. Then when you arrive the building has no identifiers. If you didn't know who my friend worked for, you'd never know. The production floor is off limits to everyone unless you have prior authoriztion. They are trying to keep their production methods secret. They are trying to also keep what they produce secret. Why? Because in their industry a few cents can make the difference between success and failure. Would they want an RFID firm tracking their purchases? Would they want an RFID firm manipulating their data? Possibly someone using their information to give someone else a hand in the competition? I think not. This information is important to consumers and businesses alike.

It makes me wonder will there be anything that anyone won't know about us if they're willing to pay the price? Shop local. Grow your own. Cook from scratch. Know your meat producer locally. All those mantras are becoming more and more important to me. We need to be careful out there!