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Last update: 2008-11-09

End: 2009-01


a demonstrator of a different way to inform consumers about the RFID tags

Increasingly, products for sale in shops are being tagged by RFID tags. These tags contain a unique product or item number, which can be read out wirelessly over a short distance by an RFID reader. Their function in shops and supermarkets is similar to the ubiquitous paper barcode, except that RFID tags can also be read out if the tag is not in plain sight of the reader. This means these tags can also be read out surreptitiously when walking around the store, or afterwards when the items are in your shopping bag and you are walking on the street. This also holds true for payment cards and travel passes (e.g. the OV chipcard in the Netherlands) that people carry with them. This has raised concerns about the impact for RFID technology on the privacy in our society.

The goal of the project is to develop a demonstrator of a different way to inform consumers about the RFID tags on the items they buy or the tags that surround them in their environment. Main idea is to use a mobile phone to display information about RFID tags in the vicinity.

In particular, the setup of the demonstrator will operate as follows. A consumer sets his privacy preferences in a profile stored on his mobile phone. If he holds the phone close to a product in a shop containing an RFID tag, the phone will read the tag number from the tag. It will then query (over the Internet, either through GPRS, UMTS or WiFi) the backoffice to retrieve the privacy policy corresponding to the tag number. Then it will match the tag policy with the consumer policy, and present the result of the match to the consumer on the display of the mobile phone in an intuitive and appealing manner.

This demonstrator will be used to show how such a concept:

  • empowers users in deciding for themselves how their privacy is affected and how to respond to that information, and
  • allows producers to efficiently communicate their privacy policy to consumers.