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Ateneo de Manila University explores data security in the use of RFID

Ateneo de Manila University explores data security in the use of RFID

According to the announcement
made by the Ateneo de Manila University, the popularity gained by RFID is due
to the fact that it has made life more convenient. But alongside its benefits
is the possible issue of data privacy breach, given that an RFID contains an
identifier that is uniquely assigned to the individual.

The use of the Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID) is popular nowadays. It works by electronically encoding
data and storing it in a smart tag. Data will then be picked up during use by a
reader through radio waves. Once captured, the data can be turned over to and
processed by a computer.

The potential uses and applications of an RFID
are varied. Smart cards or tickets equipped with RFID tags are being used to
ride buses, trains, and other public transportation. It is more convenient
since passengers only need to tap their card or ticket.

RFID made shopping easier as well. Amazon
Go, for instance, allows customer to just grab items off the shelves and leave.
Upon exit, tags attached to the items are processed by a reader. The store will
then automatically charge the items to the customer’s Amazon account.

Organisations use RFID to keep track of
employee attendance as well as facilitate employee access to certain areas,
systems, applications and other company resources.

It should not be forgotten that although
innovation and emerging technologies are vital to the economic growth of the
country, it should not be at the expense of the fundamental rights and freedom
of the people.

Privacy-related issues have been raised
ever since RFID was first introduced. Concerns on how government and private
sector use the data stored are unavoidable since an RFID tag can record unique
identifiers assigned to an individual.

This may reveal information about them
directly or indirectly. Something as simple as a loyalty card equipped with an
RFID technology can give a general picture of a person’s spending habits or
preferences which can then be linked to that person’s other records.

Moreover, once data systems are
interconnected, profiling will also be so much easier. The possibility for an
individual to lose control over their personal data may inevitable. There have
been occurrences wherein organisations shared their databases with
subsidiaries, affiliates, service providers, and other third parties.

Any one of them could use the data for unauthorised
purposes. Any one of them could be potential targets for hackers and frauds.
Having access to a trove of personal data can be very tempting.

As the capabilities of the RFIS continue to
evolve, authorities need to keep up and regularly monitor its development.
Appropriate regulations should always be instituted.

Attention should also be given to mechanisms
that guarantee security of RFID systems. Users, on the one hand, must take into
account all possible risks posed by the technology, particularly those related to
a person’s privacy.

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