Radio frequency identification tags are not fully catching on, thanks to objections from Alan Watt, Katherine Albrecht, and others who have been hammering away for years at RFID’s threats to privacy and civil liberties.
For global corporations and the US Department of Homeland Security, who remain eager to track individuals, that means it’s time to shift their efforts back to barcodes.
MIT scientists last week said they’ve overcome the barcode’s strongest privacy protections–its close read range, and fussy need to be scanned, line-of-sight. Now, using the camera in a mobile phone, a spy, or hacker, will be able to scan the barcode label on any object, or person, at an angle, and up to 60 feet away.
The MIT scientists are working with grants from Nokia, Samsung, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation–named for its founder, the ruthless auto industry chief that one reporter counts among “Hitler’s carmakers.” Sloan is also a creator–through his strategy of “planned obsolescence”–of our modern, consumerist culture.
Here’s an excerpt from the BBC:
“For traditional barcodes you need to be a foot away from it at most,” said Dr Mohan.
The team has shown its barcodes can be read from a distance of up to 4m (12ft), although they should theoretically work up to 20m (60ft).
“One way of thinking about it is a long-distance barcode.”