Posted by Lori Ayre on January 2, 2006

Well, it has happened. A friend sent me an article in which libraries are lumped in a group with other RFID users like FasTrak and Walmart thereby giving the technology the Librarian Stamp of Approval.

The January 2006 issue of National Geographic contains a short article (not available online) by Joel Achenbach about RFID entitled "The Radio Age: RFID tags are tracking everything - even you." The article describes far-fetched futuristic applications of RFID ("gizmos" that beam back name, occupation, hobbies, obsessions...availability for a date Friday night to other singles). He also gives readers an overview of the technology which includes this line:

Already, RFID technology is used by highway toll plazas, libraries, retailers tracking inventory, and it might appear in your passport.

Unlike WalMart, FasTrak and the Department of Defense (the usual RFID suspects), libraries are an institution committeed to protecting the privacy of its users. To fulfill our mission, we must help ensure that privacy protections are co-developed with RFID applications. Otherwise, how can we justify using them and being unintentionally among the industries giving RFID the thumbs-up?

That means pushing for privacy protections for all RFID applications. Not only in our library applications. The citizenry doesn't really see the difference between our applications and the Walmart applications. All they know is "if libraries are using it, how bad can it be?"