Chips, tags and scanners: Ethical challenges for radio frequency identification


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems identify and track objects, animals and, in principle, people. The ability to gather information obtained by tracking consumer goods, government documents, monetary transactions and human beings raises a number of interesting and important privacy issues. Moreover, RFID systems pose an ensemble of other ethical challenges related to appropriate uses and users of such systems. This paper reviews a number of RFID applications with the intention of identifying the technology’s benefits and possible misuses. We offer an overview and discussion of the most important ethical issues concerning RFID, and describes and examine some methods of protecting privacy.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kenneth W. Goodman.

Additional information

Norman G. Einspruch serves as a consultant to several high-technology companies, one of which is in the RFID components and systems business.

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Glasser, D.J., Goodman, K.W. & Einspruch, N.G. Chips, tags and scanners: Ethical challenges for radio frequency identification. Ethics Inf Technol 9, 101–109 (2007).

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  • business ethics
  • ethics
  • privacy
  • radio frequency identification
  • RFID
  • surveillance